The contrast between facing Indianapolis and top quarterback Peyton Manning and Tennessee and NFL-leading rusher Chris Johnson couldn't be greater for the Giants' defense. Because the Giants played mostly six defensive backs and one linebacker last week in an effort to contain the Colts' passing, the Titans' Johnson said today that game film is useless to him.
"They played Indy in a nickel front with only six people in the box," Johnson said on a conference call with media covering the Giants. "I know they're not going to play us like that. There's really nothing you can take from the Indy film."
Describing the kind of defense he usually sees, Johnson said, "There's at least eight in the box. It's going to be the type of thing where they're going to make a lot of plays just like Pittsburgh last week. But when we get out and break a long one, we've got to execute. We broke a long one last week, and we had a holding penalty. We just didn't execute. We have to take advantage, and we didn't. So, it's going to be a type of thing like that where you have to take advantage of every situation that you get."
In Tennessee's 19-11 home loss, the Steelers held Johnson to 34 yards on 16 carries, breaking his streak of 12 straight games with at least 100 yards rushing. However, the holding penalty to which he referred wiped out an 85-yard touchdown run that would have put him over 100 yards and given the Titans a chance to win.
In the opener at Oakland, Johnson rushed for 142 yards on 27 carries, including a 76-yard scoring run. That was his fourth career TD of 75 or more yards putting him in a tie with Barry Sanders and Tony Dorsett for second all-time behind O.J. Simpson, who did it five times. So, the penalty also cost Johnson a place in the NFL record books, at least temporarily.
Last season, Johnson became the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards, leading the league with 2,006 yards to give him a total of 3,410 yards in his first two seasons. Only Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James have done better in their first two seasons.
Obviously, the Giants may be expected to have more than one linebacker on the field, and that means former Titan Keith Bulluck should play an expanded role against the team he played with for the first nine seasons of his career. "He's a good friend of mine," Johnsopn said of Bulluck. "When you're facing a friend, it's going to be a good game. But it's not a me vs. him thing. It's Tennessee versus the Giants and trying to get our offense going and get another victory."
Two games into the new season, the Giants are facing leadership issues, but Bulluck could be part of the solution once he gets to know his new teammates better and if his role in the defense grows. "He was a great leader," Johnson said. "He talked to the guys. He helped everybody out. He was great leading us, but that's something we can't dwell on. We have to stick to what we're doing."