Linebacker Michael Boley was a difference-maker in the Giants’ Thursday night matchup with the Panthers, which is why he deserves the defensive game ball for Week 3.
Boley was a force in the middle of the field, racking up six total tackles (five solo) on the night. He played a pivotal part in the Giants' run defense, which held a potent Carolina rushing attack to only 60 yards.
It’s Boley’s versatility, though, that makes him such a valuable component of New York’s defense. Aside from his six tackles, Boley also added a half sack and an interception.
Boley’s half sack came in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s game. Just before the play began, Boley backed off his coverage and showed blitz off the left side. He cut through Carolina’s offensive line untouched just as the ball was snapped. With a clear shot at quarterback Cam Newton, Boley and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul were able to close in on him and bring him down with ease.
Two plays later, Boley dropped into coverage on a third-and-long situation. Newton looked to his tight end, Greg Olsen, deep down the middle, but Boley stepped in front of the pass and went the other way with it. He was able to return the interception 17 yards before being brought down by a pair of Panthers offensive linemen.
Boley’s play in Week 3 exemplified his usefulness to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and his defense. His half sack against the Panthers may have been his first of the season, but the interception was his third in as many games.
Holding the Panthers’ offense to seven points certainly required a full team effort on defense, but as the Giants’ defensive signal-caller, Boley deserves most of the credit for the stifling performance.