After poor start, Giants get defensive

Oct 1, 2007 - 5:24 PM By Scott Serrano PA SportsTicker Staff Writer

Since opening the 2007 season with a pair of poor showings, the New York Giants' defense suddenly has gone from a much-maligned unit to a record-setting one.

The Giants sacked Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb 12 times Sunday en route to a 16-3 victory, which evened their record at 2-2 and snapped their five-game losing streak at the Meadowlands.

The 12 sacks set a team mark for a single game, surpassing the nine sacks they had amassed four times previously. The Giants also tied an NFL team record, while defensive end Osi Umenyiora established a new team mark with six sacks.

Not to be outdone, veteran defensive end Michael Strahan passed Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor on the Giants all-time sack list, notching career sack No. 133 1/2 in the second quarter.

"Phenomenal. We couldn't have asked for a better performance" Strahan said. "This was probably one of the best performances that I have ever been a part of defensively, especially against (the Eagles).

"Some of the individual performances were pretty incredible."

At the top of that list was Umenyiora's performance. He broke the team record held by Pepper Johnson, who had 4 1/2 sacks at Tampa Bay on November 24, 1991.

Umenyiora's six sacks tied him for second on the NFL's individual single-game sack list along with Fred Dean and the late Derrick Thomas.

"Sacks come in bunches," Umenyiora said. "Sometimes it just happens like that. As long as you keep working, as long as you keep putting pressure on the quarterback, it's eventually going to happen for you. It was just one of those nights tonight.

"The important thing is that we won the football game. We were just hungry. We have outstanding pass rushers on this football team. A lot of disrespect was going on, talking about how bad this defense was."

The recent success is quite a turnaround from the first two games of the season for the Giants, who yielded 80 combined points in dropping their first two contests.

Since allowing Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley to catch an 8-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter of their 24-14 victory in Week Three, the Giants have not allowed a touchdown since - a span of six quarters.

The Giants' defense stretched its scoreless streak to over 77 minutes Sunday before Philadelphia's David Akers kicked a field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Sunday's performance was even more impressive considering it came against an Eagles offense that scored 56 points in Week Three.

However, it should be noted that Philadelphia was without injured star running back Brian Westbrook, who missed the game with a strained abdominal muscle.

Perhaps even more evident was the absence of starting left tackle William Thomas, who was sidelined with a knee injury. His replacement, Winston Justice, was completely overmatched against Umenyiora.

McNabb was 21-of-26 for 381 yards and four touchdowns in the 56-21 win over the Detroit Lions. But he was under constant pressure from the Giants and completed only 15-of-31 passes for 138 yards.

"Outstanding defensive effort and just continuous pressure on the quarterback," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin, whose once-tenuous job security suddenly seems safe. "I think if you look at last week's game, it was a strong game as well. The guys just keep improving."

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