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Turnovers give life to Giants' defense

Giants strong safety Antrel Rolle (26) is hit

Giants strong safety Antrel Rolle (26) is hit by Houston Texans wide receiver Keshawn Martin (82) with Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara (20) attempting to block after Rolle intercepted a pass during the second quarter of a game, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

The week began in earnest for the Giants' defense when coach Tom Coughlin drew their attention to the fact that they had created zero turnovers and were minus-6 in that category as a team while losing their first two games.

In case they missed the point, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell reminded them again Saturday night.

From the first quarter Sunday at MetLife Stadium, when Jason Pierre-Paul tipped a pass by Houston's Ryan Fitzpatrick that was intercepted by Prince Amukamara, that losing script changed dramatically. The Giants came up with three interceptions, stopped Houston on fourth down in its own territory and blocked a punt, leading directly to 20 points in a 30-17 victory.

"Coach Coughlin put on the board that we have zero turnovers and that needs to change," Amukamara said. "I think we rose to the challenge.

"As a defense, we live by a term that they 'come in bunches.' Once someone gets a pick, that means there's more coming. Once I got mine, then Antrel [Rolle] got his and [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] got his."

Rolle got his in the second quarter and Rodgers-Cromartie did it in the fourth. The Giants actually wasted Amukamara's interception when tight end Larry Donnell fumbled at the Houston 4-yard line on the ensuing drive. But Pierre-Paul's disruptive pass rushing set a tone.

"[Fitzpatrick] was getting ready to throw the ball, so I stuck my hand out there and tipped the ball," Pierre-Paul said. "I got a piece of it, and Prince intercepted it. That's the kind of plays we should make."

The Texans came in with a 2-0 record, but the Giants believed they could pressure Fitzpatrick. It helped that the Texans were without injured starting running back Arian Foster and couldn't rely on their running game.

"We thought our schemes would force [Fitzpatrick] to get rid of the ball quick," Amukamara said. "He made great decisions and stuck it in sometimes, and sometimes he just threw it. I don't know if it was him or his receivers, but it seemed like we were just there and took it."

The Giants' defense had an exceptional day on third down, allowing the Texans to convert only 2 of 12.

"It all starts up front," Rolle said of the job by the defensive line. "Those guys did a phenomenal job of keeping Fitzpatrick rattled, making him throw on the run and making him uncomfortable in the pocket. I think we did a great job overall as a defense of just being on the same page."

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