The New York Giants Will Go as Far as Their Pass Rush Takes Them in 2010

Charlie ScaturroCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 28:  Justin Tuck #91 of the New York Giants sacks David Garrard #9 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during their game on November 28, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Despite the fact that things haven't gone exactly as planned for the New York Giants through 12 weeks of football, they find themselves at 7-4 and are in a heated battle with the Philadelphia Eagles for control of the NFC East.

But it hasn't been easy getting to this point. The team has dealt with more than their fair share of injuries, including those to Shaun O'Hara, David Diehl, Steve Smith, Mathias Kiwanuka, Madison Hedgecock, Shawn Andrews and Hakeem Nicks. 

All of these injuries have reared their head at some point during the season. Whether it's starting a different combination of offensive lineman seemingly every week or inexperienced receivers being thrust into crucial situations, the Giants have done an admirable job overcoming the fact that some of their most talented players are on the sidelines.

But injuries aren't the only thing the 2010 Giants have had to overcome.

Two of New York's offensive starsEli Manning and Ahmad Bradshawhave made a weekly routine out of giving the ball to the other team. 

Thanks in large part to Manning and Bradshaw, the Giants lead the NFL in giveaways. The team has totaled 30 through 11 games, 21 of which either Manning or Bradshaw are responsible for.

Of course, Eli Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw are also two of the biggest reasons why the Giants are in contention for the NFC East title and a possible playoff berth. Because they're both well on their way to career years in pretty much all major statistical categories. 

While the performance of Manning and Bradshaw has mimicked the old saying, "two steps forward, one step back" the Giants defensemore specifically, its pass rushhas shown flashes of the 2007 unit which carried New York to Super Bowl glory. 

Much has been made of the fact that the Giants defense has knocked five opposing quarterbacks out of the game this season. When Perry Fewell has had the likes of Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and the rest of the Giants defense flocking to the quarterback, Big Blue has been almost unbeatable.

At the same time, when the Giants have struggled getting to the quarterback, they have also struggled to win games. 

In their four losses this season, they've totaled just five sacks compared to 26 quarterback takedowns in their seven wins. 

Dating back to when Lawrence Taylor was revolutionizing the game, the Giants have known that being able to sack the opposing quarterback is the great equalizer. 

It makes up for so many offensive and defensive faults that you can afford to have a secondary that gives up the occasional big play or the quarterback who throws his share of interceptions as long as you have a fierce pass rush.

And this is why the franchise continues to covet players who can get to the quarterback like Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.

And why they were willing to draft a guy like Jason Pierre-Paul in the first round of this past year's draft, even though they had more pressing needs at other positions.

This isn't to say that the Giants don't value other positions, nor are they devoid of talent in those areas. But it's clear that this team relies on the pass rush to both keep them in and bail them out of close games.

In no contest was the Giants' pass rush more important than their last one against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

After Eli Manning threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Boss, which gave the Giants a 24-20 advantage, David Garrard had begun to lead what looked like it might turn into the game-winning drive for Jacksonville.

But with Garrard and the Jaguars just outside of the red zone with about two minutes to play, the Giants' pass rush stepped up once again. 

Justin Tuck and Antrel Rolle combined for a sack on first down. Dave Tollefson corralled Garrard in the backfield on second down.

Terrell Thomas finally ended the game with a sack fumble that Rolle recovered on third down.

There's no doubt that the potential is there for the Giants to make a run in the playoffs this season. But this team is not without its flaws.

Eli and the offense have struggled with turnovers all season, the special teams have hurt more than they've helped, and the defense gets that look about them every once in a while like they're going to revert to the unit that couldn't stop anyone at the end of 2009.

However, when the Giants' pass rush is making life difficult on the opposing quarterback, these flaws are pretty-well hidden and it gives the rest of the team a much larger margin of error.

The fate of this team rests with how successful the pass rush is because that's what the Giants have built their roster and philosophy around.

While it's tough to predict where this Giants team will end up, it is comforting for Giants fans to know that the teams success is reliant upon how well they play to their strengths rather than how well they can overcome their weaknesses.