The Giants had four sacks, three interceptions and held the Panthers to 18 points (two of which came on a safety) in the season-opening win. The offense got plenty of attention for a strong passing attack, but the defense — which gave up 427 points a year ago — appeared markedly improved in its first contest under new coordinator Perry Fewell.
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The defensive effort started up front. The defensive line was a revelation one year after this talented group disappointed. Mathias Kiwanuka collected two sacks, and Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck were extremely active. The Giants have gotten back to an attacking style they had during the Super Bowl season of 2007 and their division-title team of '08. They opened the game with Tuck and Umenyiora at defensive end and Kiwanuka at linebacker and tried to use personnel packages that put as much pass-rushing prowess on the field at once.
The secondary also had a nice game. CB Terrell Thomas allowed Panthers WR Steve Smith to get loose a few times but otherwise battled well and had an interception. SS Kenny Phillips, less than a year removed from a potentially career-threatening knee injury, had an interception and a TD-saving tackle against RB DeAngelo Williams. Deon Grant, a reserve safety who was on the field a good deal, had an athletic pick in the endzone. With CB Corey Webster rounding out the group, the secondary looks strong and balanced.
The Giants get a different kind of test in Week Two after taking out the Panthers and their vaunted run game. Next up is Peyton Manning, who despite his Colts losing at Houston, still leads a dangerous passing outfit. The secondary naturally will be on its toes, but the pass rush might be the key to victory.
The Texans kept Manning under fire most of the game and established a tone early by whipping the Colts' offensive line. The Giants must come up with their most devilish blitzes and line stunts and twists to keep the Colts guessing up front. Protection appears to be their weakness right now, though you can expect them to work on it extra this week to get ready for the Giants.