The Giants’ defense were able to contain and control Houston’s DeShaun Watson last week in gaining their first victory.
Maintaining that same level against Drew Brees likely won’t that easy, as the 39-year-old quarterback and the Saints’ high-powered offense can make history late Sunday afternoon at Met Life Stadium.
The Saints (2-1) are coming off a 43-37 overtime win over Atlanta, and they will look to keep pace with the high-flying Rams in the NFC South. They are second in the league in points with 104 (34.7 per game) and fourth in total yards (428) and third in passing (345.3).
Yet, the Saints have shown they can play either way, losing a 48-40 shootout to Tampa and then edging Cleveland in overtime with a field goal, 21-18.
The Giants’ defense will be looking for the latter type of game, knowing they have to keep the clamps of running back Alvin Kamora (141 yards) and receiver Michael Thomas (40 receptions for 398 yards with 3 touchdowns). Thomas is second in the league and Kamora is third (38 catches)
Brees continues to defy time in his 18th season as he is 417 yards shy of holding the all-time yardage mark held by Peyton Manning and is four touchdowns passes short of hitting the 500 mark held by Manning and Brett Favre.
The Giants (1-2) don’t want to host that party.
“One of the top offenses in the National Football League and really an offense that collectively has been one of the top five offenses for a while,” said Giants’ defensive coordinator James Bettcher. “They (head coach Sean Payton and Brees) have been together for over a decade, and they called a lot of plays and run a lot of plays together and you can see that.
“The running back (Kamora) is a really special player. A guy that they use in the backfield to carry the ball, heavily in the screen game or they split him out and use him as a slot-type receiver. They’re going to find ways to target him and get him touches, and Thomas is another really, really talented receiver on the perimeter. Has really strong hands at the point when balls are up and some of those 50/50 balls, he’s a really good player in those scenarios.”
The Giants will be without linebacker Olivier Vernon and cornerback Eli Apple, and they again will need to rely on an overall team effort.
They are ranked 14th overall in the league, sitting 11th in passing defense (232 yards) and 18th in rushing (111.3).
Head coach Pat Shurmur doesn’t see a potential shootout with his surging offense.
“No,” he said. “We’ve got to play the game like we play it, and it’s important that we get big plays, but it’s also important that we move the ball and score. I think that’s the most important piece, is to score and continue to score however you do it. Sometimes it takes you a lot, sometimes you get a big play and you do it quickly.
“On defense, when you watched the way they played, they’re schemed up, they’re a five-on-the-line defense just like we are in base, and they like to play man coverage although they have played a healthy amount of zone in stretches this year. We’ve got to be ready to attack everything, and then just change gears if they’re giving us a little more of one thing than we expected.”
Safety Landon Collins knows there is a huge task ahead with stopping Brees, who had completed 80 percent of his passes this season. Yet, Collins sees the unit already jelling.
“It’s a big challenge and we look forward to it,” said Collins. We’re excited for it because this is an explosive offense, and they’ve got a great quarterback back there that knows how to run it.
“But we’re settling down. We’re getting down the right concepts and we’re getting our defense right in terms of how we want to play. We know what defense we’d like to play. When we play the right defense for us, we’ll play at 110 percent.”