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Giants defense gives fans something to cheer about

Leonard Williams of the Giants celebrates a safety

Leonard Williams of the Giants celebrates a safety during the second quarter against the Panthers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

There were 71,899 fans at MetLife Stadium on Sunday to watch the Giants demolish the Carolina Panthers, 25-3. Two of them stood out.

For defensive lineman Leonard Williams, there was the fan he was joking around with during pregame warmups. The fan was giving Williams the business about his comments from last week, when Williams said he didn’t like the home fans booing the Giants during a dreadful loss to the Rams.

So Williams blew some kisses at the fan. And he blew more kisses after his pressure in the end zone led to a second-quarter safety as Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold was called for intentional grounding.

That play set the tone for a dominant effort by the Giants’ defense.

"As a unit, we kind of talked about putting the team on our back more," Williams said. "We think our team is built around the defense. We take pride in being a defensive team. So far this year we haven’t really been stepping up to the plate, and I think this was a really big game for us."

Then there was the fan who told safety Logan Ryan that he had paid $5,000 for his personal seat license back when the stadium was being built and wanted more for his money than what the Giants had shown in their first six games, five of them defeats.

"This is our house, this is our fans, and they paid good money," Ryan said. "I heard a guy in the tunnel say he paid $5,000 for a PSL or whatever. Hey, I feel that. So I want to give him his money’s worth."

The Giants certainly did. They held Carolina to a first-quarter field goal and 173 yards of offense, including 56 on the ground, after Panthers coach Matt Rhule had said he wanted to establish an identity as a running team and pretty much dared the Giants to stop them.

The Giants not only stopped the run but prompted Rhule to bench Darnold in the fourth quarter.

"I’m not Michael Jordan — not everything’s personal," Ryan said. "But you hear that, man . . . You don’t let teams come in here and say they’re going to do this and do that to you. We definitely heard about it. But there’s a lot to take personal, how it’s been. So to us, we just had to play with a certain type of identity, and a dominant defense is a great way to start.

"It was kind of an identity game for us. We talked about pride. I have a lot of pride, this defense has a lot of pride and this area has a lot of pride. When people say we’re not playing with pride, that’s just inexcusable. You shouldn’t even allow that to be questioned."

The Giants had six sacks, with Williams getting credit for 1.5, linebacker Azeez Ojulari getting 2.5 and Jabrill Peppers and Dexter Lawrence picking up one apiece.

The Giants fans in attendance certainly enjoyed it. All of them.

"You want to give the fans something to cheer for," Ryan said. "You want to have good results. You want to, honestly, be rewarded for your work."

New York Sports