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Giants' adjustments shut down Dolphins

Miami Dolphins running back Steve Slaton is tackled

Miami Dolphins running back Steve Slaton is tackled by New York Giants' Michael Boley and Deon Grant during the second quarter. (Oct. 30, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

The Giants couldn't have scheduled better coming out of their bye week than a game against winless Miami. But the Dolphins jumped out to a 14-3 lead as quarterback Matt Moore eluded the pass rush to run for 31 first-half yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.

It certainly wasn't what the Giants' defensive line expected with end Justin Tuck returning from the injured list and all the pieces of the NFL's best pass rush in place.

"It wasn't like we were lethargic,'' Tuck said. "I just felt that we weren't making the plays that Miami was giving us an opportunity to make. [Guys were] just a step slow. I felt that we were going to straighten it out.''

Tuck said Moore added to his collection of gray hairs, but after the Giants took a 20-17 lead with 5:58 left, the pass rush took dead aim. There would be no more scrambling as Moore was sacked four times in the final two Miami possessions and threw a game-clinching interception by cornerback Corey Webster on fourth-and-23 from the Miami 27.

Mathias Kiwanuka, who alternates between outside linebacker and defensive end, led the way with seven tackles, 11/2 sacks, one tackle for a loss and two quarterback pressures.

Explaining why the Giants contained Moore better in the second half, Kiwanuka said, "Gap integrity is a big thing, especially when you're talking about somebody who's going to pull the ball down and run.

"As we go through the year and get more and more sacks, teams are going to do something to ease that pressure off, whether it's screens, draws or quarterback runs. We have to be able to adjust.''

Tuck said the defensive tackles initially were positioned wider to help the pass rush, but that created running lanes for Moore and running back Reggie Bush. The Giants knew Moore was nursing a rib injury and didn't expect him to risk running. The change stopped the Dolphins' running game, and when the Giants took the lead, their pass rushers could take off.

"Right there at the end, it was about their O-line against our D-line,'' Tuck said. "We'll take that matchup any day.''

The game nearly got away from the Giants early in the fourth quarter when Miami held a 17-13 lead, but Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall was called for pass interference after barely pushing off Webster for a catch at the Giants' 47. The penalty put Miami at its 17.

"There's always [jostling] for position,'' Webster said. "The referee made a good call. I think [Marshall] did push me around once I got my head back for the ball. It doesn't take much to get you out of position. Everybody is trying to do those things, and the referee just made a call.''

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