The New York Giants look as though they have gotten back to their ground ways.
In their 0-6 start, the Giants ran 18.9 times a game. In going 4-0, the Giants are running 31.3 times a game.
“The balance part of the thing is what we were striving to accomplish,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin told New York reporters. “And I think we are accomplishing that to a certain extent.”
The benefits are clear.
Eli Manning was intercepted 15 times in the 0-6 start. He has been intercepted twice in the 4-0 burst.
The Giants won time of possession only once in the 0-6 start. They have won it every time in going 4-0.
Defensively, there has been a boost, too. The Giants gave up 14 touchdown passes in the first six games. Since? Zero.
“We are starting to play the way we expect to play,” Manning said. “Obviously, we’ve got a good run going. We are playing better.”
Most of the ground work is being done by Andre Brown. He had 18 carries last week against Green Bay, a week after carrying 30 times against Oakland in his first action of the season since coming back from a broken leg in preseason.
But he has help. Big back Brandon Jacobs is healed from a hamstring injury. He converted two fourth downs and scored on a 1-yard run, giving the Giants a power punch in short yardage.
The Giants have won four straight games, but they realize Tony Romo is better than any of the four quarterbacks in that winning streak.
Romo is the fifth-ranked quarterback in the league, far ahead of Josh Freeman, Matt Barkley, Terrelle Pryor and Scott Tolzien.
But linebacker Jon Beason said the Giants did more than stop the other quarterback. They stopped the running game, as well.
“People can say we haven’t faced the best quarterbacks, but we don’t get much props for shutting down the top running backs, either,” he said. “To me, it all depends on how you want to spin it. Guys are going to say you haven’t played anybody, but we know how hard it is to win in this league.”
The Giants held Eddie Lacy to 27 yards last week. Also this year, they have limited LeSean McCoy to 46 and 48 yards, Adrian Peterson to 28 yards, Matt Forte to 67 yards and Jamaal Charles to 65 yards.
The Giants are mildly puzzled that Hakeem Nicks has not scored yet. He has 42 catches, but no touchdowns.
“There have been opportunities, but we’ve just got to continue to try to get better, work together, and it will happen,” Coughlin told New York reporters.
Nicks scored six touchdowns as a rookie in 2009, 11 the following year, 11 the next and three last year for a total of 31 through his first 59 games. He has four touchdowns against the Cowboys, but none in the past three meetings.
Cornerback Terrell Thomas is nursing a knee injury but practicing.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul wore a shoulder harness in the game last week.