Giants defense has taken out 5 QBs in seven games
Tom Canavan, The Associated Press
7 hours, 39 minutes ago
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Playing quarterback against the New York Giants is a painful experience.
If you doubt it, just ask Matt Moore(notes) of the Carolina Panthers, Jay Cutler(notes) and Todd Collins(notes) of the Chicago Bears, Shaun Hill(notes) of the Detroit Lions and Tony Romo(notes) of the Dallas Cowboys.
All five have been sent to the sidelines by the Giants' defense this season, and it is one of the major reasons New York (5-2) is riding a four-game winning streak and tied with Atlanta for the best record in the NFC heading into the bye week.
"It ain't no fluke," safety Deon Grant(notes) said. "It's not that guys are just going back there and just rolling over on the ground and guys are just stepping on them and twisting their ankles. Guys are really delivering powerful hits to them. And it's legal. That's the good thing about it. It's legal."
The Giants have not been hit with one penalty in knocking out Moore and Cutler with concussions, Collins with a stinger, Hill with a broken left arm and Romo with a fractured left collarbone.
"That's really hyping up what the NFL is trying to preach as far as protecting the quarterback, and at the same time you can be physical," Grant said. "That's what our guys are showing."
The hit that might have left the most vivid impression was linebacker Michael Boley's(notes) hit on Romo on Monday night, early in the second quarter of the Giants' 41-35 win in Dallas.
Boley came on a blitz and had a clean shot at Romo as he threw a pass to Miles Austin(notes). The quarterback landed on his shoulder with the weight of the Giants' player on top of him.
"If you look at that hit and how he lands on his shoulder, anybody is going to break their collarbone like that," Giants backup defensive end Dave Tollefson(notes) said. "I'll tell you what, Boley is really hitting guys now."
Boley heard Romo let out a little scream and the quarterback said he felt a pain that made it tough to breath.
"Anytime someone gets hurt in this league, it is heartfelt," said Boley, who had never been involved in a play where an opposing player broke a bone. "We're a fraternity. You hate to see your fellow brother get hurt."
However, Boley said it's not surprising that quarterbacks (24 sacks) are going down against the Giants.
"As much as we have been getting to the quarterback this season, I am not going to say it's bound to happen, but we have been getting to the quarterback a lot and unfortunately some guys have gotten hurt along the way," Boley said. "It comes with the game."
The key for the Giants this season hasn't been the pass rush. It's been their ability to stop the running game. They are ranked third in the league against the run, limiting opponents to an average of 85.4 yards, and that has put opponents in some tough down-and-distance situations on second and third down.
"That's the key to everything," defensive tackle Barry Cofield(notes) said. "If you can stop a team from running and make them one dimensional, they have to sit back and pass and they have a very difficult task of keeping all our pass rushers and schemes, and keeping their quarterback off the ground."
And when a team gets one-dimensional, the Giants have some of the best pass rushers in the league, starting with ends Osi Umenyiora(notes) (8 sacks) and Justin Tuck(notes) (4).
What has been equally amazing is the fact that the Giants have put together their winning streak after losing defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka(notes) for the season with a herniated cervical disk early in the month. He had a then team-high four sacks when he was sidelined early in the month.
All the Giants did in their first game without him was record 10 sacks against the Bears. Cutler was sacked nine times in the first half and didn't return for the second. Collins started the second half and was hit by Boley late in the fourth quarter.
Relative unknown Caleb Hanie(notes) finished up, but not before Tuck sacked him.
New defensive co-ordinator Perry Fewell wasn't ready to say the Giants have become one of the most feared units in the league.
"We're trying to be a physical defense," he said. "We're trying to punish the runner and punish and destroy the run game … so I hope that we are developing a physical mentality."
Cornerback Terrell Thomas(notes) said Fewell has moved his players around and put them in position to attack the quarterback. Some players are coming clean and making plays.
"Every week it is someone new," Thomas said. "We are not trying to hurt anybody. We're out there playing physical and that's what happens some times."
Giants offensive co-ordinator Kevin Gilbride knows opposing co-ordinators are looking at New York's defense and making plans.
"You have to consider how many people do we keep in," Gilbride said. "Do we have to shorten the pass game? Do we have to move the pocket? You are always weaving those things into your decision making. Do I need to help both sides? Do I need more three step (drops)? You try to mix it up enough so the defense can't pigeon hole exactly what you are doing. That's what their going to have to do."
Getting the hits though is having a desired effect for the Giants. They are knocking out the other team's offensive leader while giving backups something to consider.
Boley said veteran Dallas backup Jon Kitna(notes) was a case in point after taking over from Romo.
"Just watching the film, we could tell at some points Kitna was a little on edge," Boley said. "That's a positive for us. When a quarterback is rushing through his progressions, that's a positive for us."
To a man, the Giants said they are not going into games looking to knock out an opposing quarterback.
"Our guys up front are getting after guys," safety Kenny Phillips(notes) said. "It's not intentional, but we are just trying to get to the quarterback. It just so happens every time they get there, they are causing some serious pain."