LANDOVER, Md. - Exactly three months before the actual holiday, Antrel Rolle described playing in the secondary against the Giants on Thursday night as "like Christmas."
"You want games like that," Rolle said. "You want games where you're playing ahead and the other team is trying to play catch-up. You know they're trying to force the ball, they're trying to make the long throws and complete long passes and it gives the defense more opportunity to intercept passes."
The Giants' secondary finished with four picks off Kirk Cousins, one each by Rolle, Prince Amukamara, Quintin Demps and Trumaine McBride. Together they had more catches than any Washington receiver had (running back Roy Helu Jr. had five receptions). But it may have been a defensive end who helped out the most.
"JPP kept saying 'He's staring down his receivers,' " Amukamara said of getting advice from Jason Pierre-Paul. "That was great for us, great for the safeties. Wherever he was looking, he was going."
Pierre-Paul picked up on Cousins' flaw in video study (yes, it was there last week against the Eagles when he threw for more than 400 yards).
"JPP has become one of the better football players in the league and he's done it through his physical play, but he also studies the game a lot," Mathias Kiwanuka said. "That's what he was saying in the meetings yesterday was, the opportunities for interceptions are there. He stares down his receivers and whether they took that to heart or not, it worked out for us."
The Giants held Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson to a combined three catches for 37 yards. It wasn't all perfect. Cousins took advantage of some lack of chemistry with new starting safety Demps on a touchdown pass to Andre Roberts. But for the most part, the secondary was clicking.
And once they had Cousins figured out, all that was left was unwrapping the presents.