LONDON — There are plenty of places for tourists to take snapshots of themselves in this town. In front of Big Ben. In front of Buckingham Palace. Riding the London Eye.
One of the more improbable would be on top of Aaron Rodgers.
That’s where the Giants’ Oshane Ximines found himself at the end of Sunday’s 27-22 victory over the Packers, having sacked the future Hall of Famer just before he could launch a desperation heave toward the end zone as time expired. He stood up and raised his arms while Rodgers remained on the turf for a moment, and the linebacker had the same reaction as any other sightseer might.
“I hope someone has a picture of that,” he said in the locker room.
The Giants’ defensive effort in the second half of the game was definitely a Kodak moment suitable for framing. With a cast that included several key players who weren’t even on the roster late in the preseason — some of them joining the squad as recently as two weeks ago, all backups pressed into service because of injuries — the Giants managed to hold Rodgers and the Packers scoreless in the second half.
“As a defense we played tremendous,” safety Xavier McKinney said.
After allowing Rodgers to complete 18 of 24 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, the Giants held him to 7-for-15 for 75 yards in the second.
“In the second half we turned it up a little bit, were able to do some different things,” McKinney said. “His second-half throws were a little different than the first-half throws.”
Did the Giants’ defense rattle Rodgers?
“For sure,” McKinney said. “We definitely did.”
That they did so without their best cornerback, Adoree’ Jackson, who sat out the second half with knee and neck injuries, was perhaps the most impressive aspect to it. Fabian Moreau and Nick McCloud, neither with the team when final cuts were made in early September, wound up playing the outside cornerback positions and managed to hold firm. Meanwhile, the front kept attacking Rodgers with a key sack from Dexter Lawrence, batted passes by Kayvon Thibodeaux and McKinney, and that final takedown from Ximines, who has seen a larger role in the defense with the injury to Azeez Ojulari.
“We have a lot of guys who are hungry,” said linebacker Jaylon Smith, whose six tackles were tied for the team high. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve been here for five or six years and it doesn’t matter if you just got here two weeks ago like I did, we just love to play the game the right way.”
Teams often talk about “next man up” in the NFL. The Giants practice it.
“Every player on this roster is here for a reason,” coach Brian Daboll said.
Even with Rodgers bearing down on the end zone in the final two minutes, even with him loading up for that desperation pass, the no-namers were able to top perhaps the league’s most visible player.
“Playing against a Hall of Fame quarterback, it presents a great opportunity,” Smith said. “Any chance you get to go and battle against the greats of this game is special. It came down to wanting to get a win, wanting to have something we can remember for the rest of our lives.”
That, after all, is what tourist snapshots are all about.