At least on one side of the ball, Sunday’s upset victory over the Philadelphia Eagles provided a glimpse of old-school New York Giants football.
A defense that entered Sunday’s game ranked 24th in the NFL yielded just seven points in a 13-7 victory while forcing four turnovers — three interceptions of the red-hot Jalen Hurts and a vital fumble from running back Boston Scott inside two minutes remaining in the game.
“We needed it bad, obviously,” safety Julian Love, who latched onto Scott’s fumble, said. “But not just for a win in the column, but to just set a standard for who we are as a team.
“I think we’ve been preaching that we want to be a physical, tough, resilient team and I think that showed today in a lot of ways. We’re happy how we recovered.”
Love and the Giants’ defense were torched for 30 points just six days earlier by the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers — a sizable regression for a unit that had allowed just 39 points combined over their previous three outings.
Hurts and the Eagles provided quite a sizable test, too, having averaged 34.5 points in their previous four games. They also had rushed for 175 or more yards in each of those victories, highlighting the dual-threat that Hurts has been able to bring.
Philadelphia’s ground game still got there’s, rushing for 208 yards at MetLife Stadium. But the Giants defense bore down when it mattered most — taking advantage of the peculiar decisions from first-year head coach Nick Sirianni to stray from the run game and throw the ball.
Nursing a 3-0 lead, Darnay Holmes intercepted Hurts at the Giants’ 5-yard-line to snuff out an early threat, though he left the game shortly after due to a chest injury. He was joined by cornerback Adoree’ Jackson on the shelf after he injured his quad.
But the defense held firm.
Linebacker Tae Crowder picked off Hurts at the goal line to end the first half before Xavier McKinney snuffed out an Eagles drive near midfield when he intercepted a deep pass in the middle of the field looking for Jalen Reagor.
“Just next man up mentality, making sure that everybody is prepared and ready.” McKinney said of the Giants’ philosophy after losing Holmes and Jackson. “You know that is something that we emphasize in practice, making sure that everybody is getting reps, everybody knows what they’re doing, and you know there were times like when it didn’t happen when the switches were made, we just had to communicate with each other off the field just to make sure everybody knew exactly what they were doing on what call, so I feel like we did that.
“We played well. We didn’t miss a beat, which was a really good thing for our unit.”
They also bailed out a sputtering offense that left plenty to be desired in offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens’ debut after the Giants canned Jason Garrett.
“I think that was huge,” Giants QB Daniel Jones said. “I think ‘help’ is an understatement. They played great all day and came up big for us.”