Sorting through the Giants’ defensive stars in Monday night’s 21-20 victory over the Bengals is no easy task, not after a thorough performance in which the unit was asked to bend but not break on several occasions and came through.
“We just knew what we had to do,” end Jason Pierre-Paul said. “Great things are going to happen when you have 11 guys running to the ball.”
In no particular order, some standouts:
*** Safety Landon Collins made his fourth interception in three games and seems to make big plays every week, to the point that fans began to chant his name in appreciation.
“It means I’m doing a great job of what I do,” he said. “I’m being accountable. Last year, I had a bad season. I’m making up for it this season.”
He said he never has had a stretch like this, “not in college or in high school.”
*** Cornerback Janoris Jenkins helped limit the Bengals’ star receiver, A.J. Green, to seven catches for 68 yards.
*** Cornerback Trevin Wade broke up a play on which Tyler Boyd seemed to have a certain touchdown catch, and the Bengals had to settle for a field goal.
*** The defense held the Bengals to another field goal on a drive that began with an interception that gave them the ball at the Giants’ 7-yard line.
*** The maligned pass rush came up with back-to-back sacks on what turned out to be the Bengals’ final possession, the second of which was made by big-ticket free agent Olivier Vernon.
“We expect anybody on the defense to make plays,” Vernon said. “We’ve got a lot of playmakers that can do special things.”
It has not always looked that way. But week by week, this is a defense that is proving to coaches, fans and itself that it can be trusted to hold on to late leads.
What is the key to that? “Training camp, man,” Pierre-Paul said. “The struggle is real.”
The Bengals had only 12 first downs.
Said Collins, “We didn’t do this last year. We’re doing it when it matters most now.”