Yes, they did just beat the lowly Minnesota Vikings, who started QB Josh Freeman for the first time since acquiring him from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; but defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and the Giants defense, has to be commended for their victory.
Reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson was held to just 28 yards on 13 carries and was bottled up on each carry. With the score close for much of the game, the Giants packed the box in an effort to make sure that AP did not break out for a game-changing run, something that he has commonly done over his stellar seven year career in the NFL.
One key aspect of the Giants defense, has been their ability to stop the run over the course of the season. The squad has allowed just one 100-yard rusher so far: DeAngelo Williams of the Carolina Panthers in week 3. Much of the talk coming into this week was the ability of Peterson, who rushed for over 2,000 yards last season, to take over a game, but he was a non-factor in an offense that made mistake-after-mistake on the arm of Freeman.
MLB Jon Beason, who had five solo tackles last night, has made an enormous impact on the defense and had a watchful eye on AP, bringing him down several times during the game, whether it was by the shoestrings or wrapping him up before he broke free into the open field.
While DE Jason Pierre-Paul has had a tough time on the pass rush, he has done a tremendous job on containing the opponent's ground game and last night was only more evidence in support of JPP.
Speaking of the pass rush, the Giants are still struggling on getting to the quarterback, but they did a better job last night of putting pressure on Freeman and forced him to make some bad throws, while taking some heavy pounding from the defensive line. More importantly, it was good to see DE Justin Tuck get his first full sack of the season, which could be a season-changing play that sparks some life into the veteran and the rest of the d-line.
Tuck said after the game that he almost forgot to perform his signature bow, since it has been so long since he has provided a solo sack (his last was week 16 last season against the Philadelphia Eagles).
With pressure on Freeman, the Giants were able to capitalize on some poor throws; S Antrel Rolle pulled in a highlight-reel interception, while the secondary provided lockdown coverage all night, holding the Vikings to just 176 yards through the air.
But take this game with a grain of salt. The Giants defense, all season, has been put into tough situations with their offense committing ample amount of turnovers and they haven't faired well. The defense has given up 25+ points in the prior six games, and haven't been able to generate any sort of pressure from the defensive line.
However, the Giants defense took full advantage of the struggling Vikings offense that doesn't have many options outside of AP, accompanied by Freeman taking snaps after almost a month on the sidelines.
The defense showed that the tank is not completely on empty and if last night was the spark that they needed to gather some momentum for next week, then so be it.