The Giants again reaffirmed how good their defense can be in their stingy 13-7 victory over the Eagles Sunday.
They made the stops when they had to make them,and showed what has been expected from them since the start of the season. The three interceptions and a gumble recovery certainly helped.
It was the kind of stifling showing that gained them the league’s ninth-ranked unit last season, and their offseason acquisitions and draft raised the bar even higher since April.
At 4-7, the Giants can be carried by their defense the rest of the way. The question is have they finally reached their water level?
They had contributions from rookies defensive lineman Chris Roche, an effective run stopper and rusher with three tackles, and cornerback Aaron Robinson, who had six stops. Robinson was significantly effective after Darnay Holmes and A’dorre Jackson went down with injuries.
Xavier McKinney continues to look like one of their best draft finds in years with his stellar play at safety, as he grabbed his fifth interception of the year, His play is making Jabrill Peppers a steady afterthought with Peppers leaning toward free agency next year.
Vet tackle Austin Johnson has quietly put together a banner year with his steady play.
Julian Love’s play at safety quieted the concern of Logan Ryan missing from the lineup.
The master blueprint of the defense being the dominant part of the team can pay itself out if they can maintain their consistency. Their cast of characters can expand and that makes it easier.
Now, they will have to maintain that status over the final six weeks to possibly have a shot at the playoffs, and save general manager Dave Gettleman’s job.
It will be the defense that has to make the difference until Joe Judge and Freddie Kitchens figure out the switch to turn on the Giants’ offense that produced 264 yards last week.
Giants’ fans should be grateful for Graham Gano, who again made the difference with a pair of field goals against the Eagles, even though he missed a 51-yarder.
The Giants travel to Miami Sunday and then to Los Angeles to battle the Chargers the following week before they return with a key showdown against the Cowboys.
As for Gettleman, the 71-year-old may walk away if the pressure gauge is turned up a few notches. He wanted to build his “hog mollies,” but his mark was made on the other side of the ball.
Jason Garrett was the fall guy for the offense, and that move has allowed the offense time to regroup and keep the pitchforks and torches away from Gettleman on one side. Daniel Jones’ sudden neck injury also will lower the expectations.
Like last season, though, this will come down to the defense for a six-game revival and Gettleman’s job.