Any defensive coordinator will tell you that the difference between defending second down and five yards to go and 2nd-and-10 is like night and day. On 2nd-and-5, the entire playbook is open, including play-action; on 2nd-and-10, it's a throwing down for most teams. That makes first-down defense crucial. And most teams play better when they're ahead on the scoreboard, both offensively and defensively. So that is a good reason to be stingy defensively in the first halves of games. Want a hidden factor to the Giants' recent success? Here you go: Perry Fewell's bunch has played excellent first-down and first-half defense. The great first-down performance has put opponents in unfavorable situations and allowed the Giants to force 20 three-and-outs, second-most in the NFL through Week Five. And check out the total yards the Giants have allowed in the first halves of the past three games: 78 vs. the Titans, 22 against the Bears and 74 vs. the Texans. That's a winning formula the team hopes to continue.