With all three of their division rivals winning over the weekend, the New York Giants kept pace in the NFC East with an impressive 21-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday.
On a night where Ernie Accorsi, Tom Coughlin, and Justin Tuck were inducted into the team’s ring of honor, the New York Giants won their fourth consecutive game and improved to 6-3 on the season to claim sole possession of second place in the NFC East.
Here are three quick takeaways from Monday’s win:
The defense continues to look sharp
New York’s top-10 rushing defense was on full display against Cincinnati.
The Giants limited the Bengals to just 78 rushing yards on 23 attempts, a 3.4 yard-per-carry average.
As a result, the Bengals faced many third-and-long situations and converted only two of their 11 third down attempts.
The Giants’ defense, which came into Week 10 with a league worst 11 sacks, applied constant pressure off the edges and brought Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton down three times.
Dalton threw for 204 yards and completed only 55.2 percent of his passes.
Over their four game winning streak, the Giants are allowing just 19 points and 86.5 rushing yards per game to opposing teams.
The defense will need to continue its outstanding play the last seven weeks of the season.
The offensive attack was finally balanced
The Giants’ passing and rushing attack finally worked in sync.
The offense rushed for a team total 122 yards on 27 attempts, which helped open up the passing game for quarterback Eli Manning.
Running the ball effectively enabled the Giants to posses the ball for over 31 minutes, their second highest time of possession total this season.
With their offensive line shuffled due to the injury of starting left guard Justin Pugh, the Giants were still able to protect Manning, who threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns.
Manning was sacked just once on 44 drop-backs.
A balanced attack means a world of difference to the Giants’ offense, which was evident Monday night.
If they want to extend their four game winning streak, the Giants will need to string together more offensive performances like the one they had against Cincinnati.
Turnover differential still an issue
Despite the team’s offensive success, Eli Manning threw two interceptions at critical points in the game.
The Giants are now minus eight in turnover differential, the third worst in the league in that category.
Eliminating turnovers needs to be a major focus as the Giants enter the stretch run of the season.
With four of their remaining seven opponents having a record above .500, taking care of the ball will be essential.
The Giants’ hopes of catching the Dallas Cowboys atop the NFC East or clinching the wild card spot will partially depend on the teams’ ability to take care of the football and get takeaways.