Pass rush comes alive against Packers

November, 26, 2012
11/26/12
1:40
AM ET
Mathias KiwanukaBrad Penner/US PresswireThe Giants D pressured Aaron Rodgers throughout Sunday's 38-10 victory at MetLife Stadium.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants' defense seems to like the spotlight.

Big Blue posted a season-high six sacks in a 26-3 rout of the San Francisco 49ers back on Oct. 14. And they added five more in Sunday's 38-10 thumping of the Green Bay Packers.

"Guys played extremely hard," said defensive tackle Chris Canty, who collected one of the five. "When you take a look at the film, I’m sure that you’ll see the effort. And that’s what New York Giants football is all about. Superior effort, playing with a greater sense of purpose, understanding the opportunity that we have, and taking advantage of it."

The defense hasn't been quite as dominant as it was in 2011, when the Giants finished tied for third in the NFL in sacks, with 48. Entering Sunday's game, the Giants had 25 sacks, ranking them 13th in the league.

But the D has stepped up in the team's biggest wins of the season, against arguably its two biggest challengers in the NFC.

The performance against the Packers was even more impressive when you consider the opposing quarterback. Aaron Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, had thrown 27 touchdown passes and just six interceptions thus far this season. His passer rating was 107.3, tops in the league.

Canty, defensive end Osi Umenyiora, and linebackers Chase Blackburn and Mathias Kiwanuka all took Rodgers down Sunday. (In fact, Kiwanuka did it twice.) And Umenyiora's was the biggest play of the bunch -- a strip-sack in Packers territory late in the first half, which the Giants turned into an extra touchdown before intermission, making the score 31-10.
[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireGiants linebacker Chase Blackburn sacks Aaron Rodgers during the first half.


But the sack total doesn't tell the whole story. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Rodgers was under duress, sacked or hit while throwing on 17 of his 33 dropbacks (51.5 percent). That's the highest percentage a quarterback has been pressured on in a game this season.

"That was something we felt we absolutely had to do with someone with the talent of Aaron Rodgers and having the type of year that he’s having," said coach Tom Coughlin.

"He was running all night," said Tuck. "If he wasn’t a mobile quarterback, we probably would have sacked him 10 or 11 times."

Speaking of mobile quarterbacks, next up on the Giants' hit list is Washington Redskins rookie phenom Robert Griffin III. The Giants have already faced him once, back on Oct. 21. Griffin made some plays, but the Giants emerged with the victory, and Tuck, Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul all had a sack.

The Giants will need more of the same in our nation's capital next Monday night.

"That’s what we built this defense on. Getting after the quarterback," said Tuck. "We stop the run and get after the quarterback, we’re gonna have a lot of success."
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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