Giants' defensive line has a fun night with five sacks
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Mathias Kiwanuka called it "fun football." That's what it feels like for the Giants' defensive line when just about every one of them gets on the board, as happened in Sunday night's 38-10 rout of the Packers.
Chris Canty got through for the first of the sacks on the Packers' second series, when it was still a game at 7-7 in the first quarter. That sack forced a 55-yard field-goal try by Packers kicker Mason Crosby that missed wide left.
After that, it seemed to be open season on the reigning NFL MVP, who didn't stand a chance behind a tattered offensive line that has been patching holes all season.
"We let the D-line just go after it a lot of the time," said linebacker Chase Blackburn, who burst through untouched for another sack on the final play of the first quarter. "We just tried to show different looks on the back end and let the line go after them."
Kiwanuka had a pair of sacks. Osi Umenyiora had one of his patented strip-sacks, batting the ball from Rodgers' hands with a little more than a minute to go in the first half. Jason Pierre-Paul scooped up the loose ball and brought it back to the Green Bay 23, the most pivotal play of the night.
The Giants held a 24-10 lead when the Packers got the ball for a two-minute drive, and a touchdown there for the visitors plus receiving the second-half kickoff could have spelled real trouble.
Instead, the Giants took advantage of the short field to seize a 31-10 lead at the half, one that ended with Rodgers throwing the ball into his own bench on the run, a sign of frustration.
Rodgers was sacked only 34 times all of 2011, and now he's been sacked 37 times through 11 games. This was the fourth game this season he has been sacked at least five times, something that happened once in the previous two seasons combined.
One of the keys was the defensive line making its own alignment calls at times.
"If someone saw a favorable matchup, we just made the call to line it up the way we wanted," Umenyiora said. "It worked pretty well. We did a pretty good job tonight."
Just as the beleaguered Giants offense needed the bye week to get healthy in body and mind, the Giants' pass-rushers needed the same. The renewed purpose showed in the week of practice and on the field Sunday night.
"We had two performances that you wouldn't exactly call Giants football," Canty said. "It was just a mind-set."
"I don't think it was anything special we did," Kiwanuka said. "We executed well, the offense was clicking, so it was easy to play off what they did. We did our job as a defense overall and put them in pass-rush situations, and that's when you can really go to work."