Antrel Rolle talked the talk during the week, saying the Giants' defense needed a little more "dog" in it. And the dog came out early, when Rolle pounced on a fumble on the Saints' third offensive play.
The Giants' defense had four takeaways -- another fumble forced by Rolle and two more interceptions for safety Stevie Brown -- and that went a long way toward neutralizing Drew Brees and the fast-paced Saints offense in Sunday's 52-27 win.
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"You definitely want to go out there and play hard after someone makes a comment like that," Brown said of Rolle. "Everyone looks at 'Trel as a leader and he's played great for us this year. When someone challenges you like that, you want to rise up."
Brown has risen to the occasion game after game in the spot that Kenny Phillips would have occupied. Phillips already had missed six games with a sprained MCL this season, and he sat out again with the same injury that he aggravated two weeks ago.
That was no problem for the Giants' secondary. With linebacker Jacquian Williams and backup safety Will Hill helping to shut down tight end Jimmy Graham, who had five catches for 56 yards but was targeted on both of Brown's interceptions, the secondary held its own.
"I think we imposed our will on them, forced a couple turnovers, and we got a 'W,' " Corey Webster said. "We still gave up a couple big plays, and we can't have that. But we keep getting those turnovers."
Especially Brown, who is second in the league with seven interceptions and has nine total takeaways (two fumble recoveries) to lead the NFL. His 259 return yards on the seven picks are a team record, and his 70-yard return after picking off Brees at the Giants' 8 in the fourth quarter was a big turn of events, with the Giants leading 42-27 and the Saints poised to close within one score again.
"Boy, was that timing right," Tom Coughlin said. "He was in position again. They had flipped the momentum on us almost completely."
Rolle was the vocal leader the Giants' defense needed after the unit was gashed too many times in Washington on Monday night. He again was the leader against the Saints.
"Antrel's words are usually pretty much right on target, and he wasn't off this week, either," Mathias Kiwanuka said. "We had a little extra motivation because we knew one of our brothers was, not calling us out, but challenging us to step up. I think everyone took that to heart."