The Giants’ shutdown Jackrabbit went down to the MetLife Stadium turf Sunday, and he didn’t get right back up.
Their best cornerback, Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins, took a knee to the back from teammate Trevin Wade three plays into the second quarter. While he ultimately trotted off, he never trotted back on.
It was another big hit for a defense that is minus the guy who had been playing the best along the line, Jason Pierre-Paul, out after Dec. 7 surgery to repair a sports hernia.
But the unit was unfazed. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie moved outside from nickel cornerback and Wade and Coty Sensabaugh took snaps at nickel corner.
And the Giants ended up allowing only two field goals. They beat the NFC North-leading Lions, 17-6, after defeating the NFC East-leading Cowboys, 10-7, the previous Sunday. So Big Blue moved to 10-4 and appears postseason-bound.
No Jackrabbit. No JPP. No problem.
“I think everybody is elevating their game because we’re talking about two of the best players in the game, not just on our team, that we’re missing,” linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said.
“ . . . I think guys stepped up [in this game], and that’s not just in [Jenkins’] position. Guys throughout the defense did.”
It said a lot about the defense’s depth, overall talent and “relentless mentality,” in the words of Rodgers-Cromartie.
Pierre-Paul, who has seven sacks, is out for the rest of the regular season and possibly longer.
Jenkins, meanwhile, had shut down just about everybody in sight after signing for five years and $62.5 million.
“To see him go down and what he means to the secondary, it gave us the mentality that we’ve got to go out there and play that much harder because it’s going to be tough without our buddy,” said Rodgers-Cromartie, who intercepted Matthew Stafford in the end zone and took a touchback with 1:58 left.
So despite the results, they want Jenkins back ASAP. Coach Ben McAdoo said he was “being evaluated.” Dr. DRC didn’t see much wrong.
“He seems good,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “But the main thing is we’ve still got a long season, so for him to try to go back out there, there really wasn’t no rush. So get healthy. We need him.”
Even when the Giants messed up on defense, it worked out OK.
Rodgers-Cromartie let Golden Tate run behind him with the Giants up 7-3 in the second quarter, then hustled to run down Tate after a 67-yard gain to the 11.
“It was definitely a mistake made by me, so I felt I was the only person who could right that wrong,” Rodgers-Cromartie said.
When Zach Zenner carried on the next play, Leon Hall separated him from the ball at the 4 and Olivier Vernon recovered it in the end zone for a touchback.
“The defense, they hold teams to six points, we’re going to win a lot of ballgames,” McAdoo said. “That’s tough to do in this league, especially against a team with that many weapons.”