Last night in the opening pre-season game, in the final season at Giants Stadium, Tommie Hill secured his place in little known trivia questions surrounding Giants Stadium. Which Giant scored the first defensive touchdown in the final season of the Meadowlands. Tommie Hill of course!
After last night it may be totally forgotten, but it was a fitting ending to what was an example of the potential of the 2009 version of the Giants defense. Sure it is pre-season, but the strength of this team could be the depth on the defensive side of the ball. This depth will severely impact the balance of power in the NFC East. Sure Michael Vick, once reinstated, may end up running all over the field by season's end in Philadelphia, but that may be caused by running away from the Giants front seven.
Last night, the Giants defense was consistently pressuring the QB, creating penetration on run defense and causing turnovers (five in all) and near turnovers. The only flaw that I could see from my vantage point was when Carolina runners did get the edge they were able to create some space and yardage. There certainly opportunities for the Carolina backs to post gains, but overall the defense proved to be very opportunistic.
What stood out the most was the speed and energy of the defense. What cost the Giants a playoff run last year was not the loss of Plaxico, but the failure of the Giants defense to shut down the opposition at key junctures. Players like Justin Tuck and Antonio Pierce appeared to run out of gas. Last night certainly the play of Tuck, Osi, Cofield and Kiwanuka was certainly not unexpected, it was the impact of the second and third teams that was impressive.
Among the players that stood out was Clint Sintim. His contribution was very clear with 4 tackles, 4 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and a sack. He was not alone. The play of Stoney Woodson, Terrell Thomas, D'Andre Wright, Bruce Johnson and Sha'reff Rashad all leads one to believe that the depth in the defensive backfield may rival that of the defensive line.
The only blemish was the drive near the end of the game which allowed Carolina to tie or perhaps win the game. Throughout this first game, the defense was consistently creating turnover opportunities. In all there were 5 turnovers, including the final touchdown by Tommie Hill. There also were near turnovers, including two potential dropped interceptions by Terrell Thomas and Shareff Rashad. While this was only the first pre-season game, I think Jerry Reese was smiling at the architectural design of the 2009 Giants defense.
Yes Martha, the Giants are poised to make another run in the playoffs, and the defense will be paving the way.
Tomorrow, we will take a look at the offensive side of the ball.