Giants’ defensive masterpieces keeping unrealistic playoff dreams alive

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS



The Giants stepped up in class Monday night and didn’t notice.

Didn’t give a damn, in fact.

The result — in an electric, scintillating finish that glowed Giants 24, Packers 22 on the MetLife Stadium scoreboards lighting up the Meadowlands night — now allows their once-wary fans to dream, even if for just a little bit.

The Giants, left for dead on the side of a Texas road after a 49-17 thrashing at Dallas last month, are riding a three-game winning streak and are 5-8, remarkably one game out of a playoff spot at the moment.

Playoffs?

Unrealistic?

Probably. But still, not dead yet.

Most Giants fans are understandably blind drunk from the euphoria that surrounds the storybook Tommy DeVito tale, 3-1 as their starter straight from practice squad emergency duty and now a legitimate NFL playing career.

Adoree’ Jackson said it’s on the Giants to “control the narrative and change it.” Getty Images

But don’t forget the Giants’ defense.

Tommy D and the offense don’t get to bask in chicken cutlet subs without the Giants’ D.

“We didn’t start the season the way we wanted,’’ Giants cornerback Adoree’ Jackson told The Post in the din of the raucous locker room. “And it’s on us to control the narrative and change it.”

Remember that time when Wink Martindale was reportedly going to be run out of Jersey by Brian Daboll before the end of this season because the two were “in a bad place?’’

Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

Well, Martindale, the Giants’ defensive coordinator, might be receiving a raise before Christmas the way his defense played Monday night.

Wink Martindale’s Giants defense limited Jordan Love on Monday. Bill Kostroun for the NY Post
Brian Daboll celebrates after the Giants’ last-second field goal sealed their victory. Bill Kostroun for the NY Post

“We go as our defense goes,’’ guard Justin Pugh said. “Our defense was unbelievable. Turnovers. Big stops. You name it they did it and we put them in some bad spots. This is a team right here. This is a team and we’re fighting every week.’’

Martindale’s defense forced two Green Bay turnovers. Kayvon Thibodeaux ripped the ball out of the arms of Packers quarterback Jordan Love. Jason Pinnock picked off a Love pass. Rookie cornerback Deonte Banks batted away a Love pass to Samori Toure in the end zone in the fourth quarter with the Giants clinging to a 21-13 lead, forcing a Packers field goal with 5:30 remaining.

There was more in between, too.

And now look what we’ve got: Giants games of consequence in December.

That was a notion that seemed unthinkable after that blowout loss to the Cowboys, who nearly swallowed DeVito whole.

After Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco and Tampa Bay, the four NFC division leaders, you have Philadelphia at 10-3 and Minnesota at 7-6 as the first two of three wild-card entrants.

Then come five teams at 6-7 — the Packers, Falcons, Rams, Seahawks and Saints, who the Giants play Sunday in New Orleans.

The Giants, without their starting quarterback Daniel Jones (out for the season with a knee injury) and his backup Tyrod Taylor (who just returned from a rib injury), the Giants have climbed into the “in the hunt’’ playoff graphic they keep putting on the TV screen.

“One game out,’’ Thibodeaux said. “We’ve got to keep doing this.’’

A win in the Big Easy Sunday and who knows where that leads them.

It makes you wonder what might have been had it not been for Taylor’s brain freeze at the end of the first half in Buffalo, where the Giants lost 14-9, and if Graham Gano makes one of a no-brained makeable field goal against the Jets in a 13-10 overtime loss.

Kayvon Thibodeaux had eight tackles and a half-sack for the Giants in their victory against the Packers. Bill Kostroun for the NY Post

Of course, you can’t, but reverse those two results and the Giants aren’t just “in the hunt,’’ they’re a playoff team right now.

Sure, DeVito has been a remarkable find, but that defense. The Giants have forced 11 turnovers in the past three games, including nine interceptions.

“We’re just playing with great anticipation and great execution,’’ linebacker Bobby Okereke said.

Okereke called the run of forced turnovers “huge’’ and “contagious.’’

“Guys are doing a great job flying to the ball, stripping the ball, getting picks, applying with great awareness and anticipation,’’ he said. “Wink’s just been a mastermind to our success on defense this whole season. Right now, we’re playing very confident and with a lot of anticipation, a lot of situational awareness and that’s a testament to Wink and how he prepares us.”

Thibodeaux put it this way when asked about Martindale: “If this was Madden, I’ll play Madden just like Wink calls the game.’’

The Packers — who entered the game on a three-game winning streak, a 6-6 record and in the thick of the NFC wild-card playoff race — figured to provide a bit more resistance than the Commanders (4-9) and Patriots (3-10), the previous two Giants’ victims.

Love was drawing some comparisons to his famous predecessor, Aaron Rodgers. The Packers entered the night as a 6 ½-point favorite and limped out beat up by the Giants’ defense.

Suddenly, all that damage control on the part of Daboll and Martindale about their supposed rift seemed to have evaporated Monday into the chill of the Meadowlands night.



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