Playing meaningful December games in East Rutherford is no longer a pipe dream; still a dream, but a sensible one to consider. The Giants scratched and clawed their way into the W column for the 4th consecutive week, up-ending the shorthanded Packers by a pair of scores. They now stand 1.5 games behind the streaking Eagles, and one game behind idle Cowboys. For the first time all season, the G-men will own no part of the NFC East basement.
Despite allowing debut starter Scott Tolzien to toss for 339 yards, the Giants defense appeared in control throughout. They completely stonewalled Eddie Lacy — 14 carries for 27 yards — and were able to get off the field on critical third downs. Jason Pierre-Paul quickly erased brief moments of adversity early in the fourth quarter, snagging a Tolzien bullet from just feet away and strolling in for a touchdown. Suddenly, it’s the Giants who are making the momentum changing, swing plays on D. As has been the standard for the past month, the tackling effort was sound. If they got a paw on Lacy, he wasn’t escaping — and reigning in the beast is a noteworthy accomplishment.
Offensively, the Jints controlled the clock for 35+ balanced minutes. Eli Manning’s 71% completion rate represented his high-water mark for the year, and his 279 passing yards marked his top air accumulation in a Giants win. Going hand in hand, Victor Cruz put together his most effective slot effort since week four at Kansas City, catching eight balls (11 targets) for 110 yards and two chunk gains of 25+. There were a pair of costly miscommunications between Manning and receivers, but all in all, the pass game looked miles ahead of last week.
While 78 net rush yards looks far from impressive on paper, Andre Brown established the ground game early and often, shrugging off would be tacklers and pounding out four & five yard gains. The most pleasant sight of all: the Jints winning the battles upfront on 3rd and 4th and short, moving the chains and setting a “bully” tone. The Packers are anything but undersized in the middle of the line. Seeing his first action since October 10th, Brandon Jacobs converted two 4th and 1′s and muscled his way for a one-yard touchdown. Three carries that tell much of the story.
A win is a win, but shoulder patting time is not in order. The Giants rejuvenated season will be squarely on the line at 4:25 next Sunday versus Dallas. Already floundering at 1-4 against NFC East opponents, and with an opening night loss at Cowboys Stadium on the ledger, the intra-division margin for error is nil… just how the Giants like it.