Of all the storylines that are written, unwritten and re-written during the course of an NFL season, one underlying current that continues to grow stronger is the role of rookies on the Giants defense.
In each game, you can point to a critical play by one or two of them. But on Sunday against the Patriots, they all left their mark.
In the third quarter, Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger each recovered a fumble. Williams' came after Tom Brady was sacked, and Paysinger recovered Julian Edelman's drop on a punt return that was forced by another rookie, Tyler Sash. Meanwhile, Mark Herzlich and Greg Jones both jumped in with two special teams tackles apiece on a punt unit that pinned the Patriots inside the 20-yard line five times.
"On the sideline everyone was just focused on winning, the whole team," Herzlich said after the game. "From Eli [Manning] all the way down to us special teams guys, we are just focused on winning and doing our job right until the end of the game. We had a lot of special teams work. We knew we had to make plays and we knew the Patriots would make plays. It came down to who got the ball last and our offense just executed."
Combined, the rookies' stat line included 10 tackles, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble for the five freshmen who never shy from giving each other credit.
"I just happened to have my eyes open and made the catch," Williams said of his play. "Overall the defense played hard and played strong. It was fast. We made a couple of mistakes but overall we played a good game. Our special teams were running around flying. Mark Herzlich had a good play, a couple of good plays, Greg Jones, Paysinger with the fumble recovery…. We were very explosive thanks to coach (Tom) Quinn fixing a few things. It was good game to be a part of. "
Whether it's talking something out coming off the practice field or just laughs in the locker room, you don't need to be in the facility to see their cohesion, which has been apparent since training camp.
"I think everyone came out and put their heart out there," Jones said. "I don't think anyone ever gave up or thought we didn't have a chance, even late in the game. I would give our defense a good rating. Obviously we don't want to give up a score late in the game. That is how we lean on one another and build each other back up. We all make mistakes out there but we find a way to win the game."Join other diehard Giants Fans! Follow @Giants
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