Because the NFL never makes any sense, the New York Giants won this week despite being the biggest underdog of Week 11. They are now 2-1 this season against the AFC West and 0-7 against everyone else.
The Week 11 win over Kansas City made no sense, just like New York’s Week 6 win at Denver was confounding. The Chiefs game was even weirder though. There was a running back interception in the end zone, a tight end interception, fake punts, hail mary fourth-down conversions, and Andy Reid lost after a bye week. This game had it all.
The other thing this game had was a resurgent performance and effort from the Giants defense. It held Alex Smith to 230 yards and two interceptions on 40 attempts through the air. Travis Kelce got his, but the rest of the KC attack was pretty much held in check.
It was the type of defensive game that was expected of this squad all season, and it still wasn’t all the way there. There was still not enough of a push up front on passing downs, and as Kelce proved, the unit has no recourse for stopping opposing tight ends. Nevertheless, this was as close as the 2017 Giants have come to meeting expectations placed upon their defense.
Last year, NYG had the second-best defense in football. Nearly that entire unit returned in ’17, expecting to be even better with a year of continuity. Instead, they went in the exact opposite direction. A more complicated game plan by Steve Spagnuolo may have confused players, leading to unforced errors, specifically in the secondary. Injuries to Olivier Vernon and the linebackers sapped the pass rush. After a slow start, Ben McAdoo tried to get more hands-on with the defenders and it made things worse. The team looked like it had quit on that side of the ball. Then we get this in Week 11.
It is nice to see the Giants shut someone down. It is also incredibly frustrating. Why wasn’t this defense playing at this level prior to losing nine games? If a team meeting and chewing out was all it took, what does that say about the mental makeup of these players? This good performance is a double-edged sword for sure because it also means the team was either so confused or so lazy earlier in the season as to submarine the entire year. Then again, maybe this is nothing more than Smith, Reid, and the Chiefs having a really bad day. New York needs more than one good defensive game in a row to prove its issues are solved. And if the issues are solved, why did it take 11 weeks to address them?
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