Knock the competition they faced at quarterback if you like, but the Giants defense has come back to life over the last four games.
The exclamation point on their resurrection came when defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul picked off a Scott Tolzien screen pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter at the Meadowlands. JPP’s big play came just after a Giants drive went up in smoke with two sacks and turned a one-score game into a comfortable 27-13 lead for the Giants.
Pierre-Paul’s status was up in the air until game time because of a shoulder injury and he’s been less than 100 percent all year after back surgery, but the big play on Sunday was a vintage bit of athleticism as he snatched the ball out of the air and seemed to be in the end zone a couple of seconds later.
It capped a strong performance by the entire Giants defense that has them at 4-6 heading into next week’s date with Dallas. They’ve allowed just 47 points over those four games, a total that goes a long way toward explaining why their season still matters after the dreadful start to the year.
A fifth-straight win would leave them a game behind the Eagles in the NFC East, heady territory for a team that lost their first six games. That win won’t be easy to come by with an offense that still had plenty of problems despite a strong performance from Victor Cruz.
The Packers missed a chance to move themselves back into a tie atop the NFC North and their offense didn’t look any better after giving Tolzien a week to prepare. He made some big plays in the passing game and wound up with 339 yards on the day, but he threw another interception early in the third quarter and was picked off again with 1:49 to play to end any chance of a comeback. The Packers could never get their running game in gear when they were still in a position to rely on it heavily, which helped Tolzien’s numbers more than their chances of winning.
More is needed next week against Minnesota or the Packers will find themselves pushed to the fringes of the playoff race before they can get Aaron Rodgers back into the lineup.