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Experts impressed with Giants' win over Lions


Media experts give their take on the Giants following Week 15:

"Coach of the Week: Steve Spagnuolo, defensive coordinator, New York Giants. In the past two weeks, the Giants have faced division leaders (Dallas, Detroit) with MVP candidates at quarterback (Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford). The Cowboys and Lions had the ball for 26 possessions in those two games … and scored one touchdown.

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In the span of one off-season, with defensive players GM Jerry Reese bought, Spagnuolo has constructed a defense rounding into the kind of form eerily reminiscent of the D he built into a Super Bowl winner in 2007 in the Meadowlands. The Giants are a very interesting team right now. The defense is why.

"No one talks about Giants nose tackle Damon Harrison much, but look at how the Giants' run defense has improved: from 4.4 yards per rush by foes in 2015 to 3.6 this year."

"On a dreary day at the Meadowlands, the Giants rode their new formula—rely on the defense to keep the game close, then string together enough short offensive plays to allow their stud wideouts to explode occasionally—to pick up their 10th win of the season for the first time since 2010. The means are different from those of the last two playoff teams, which relied largely on a strong ground game and an adequate defense, but the end could be the same: a deep postseason run."

"On Sunday, the Giants faced a late third-and-1 from the Lions' 4-yard line. Fail to convert and New York was looking at a field goal and a 13-6 lead — in other words, right where the Lions wanted them. That's what should have happened after Manning threw a pass too hard and too wide of his favorite target. But Beckham reached out and, like he does so often while goofing around in warm-ups, caught the pass one-handed, as if he was wearing a catcher's mitt (or the 1981 Oakland Raiders entire supply of Stickum) on his left hand. He brought it into the body, stuck the ball over the goal line, and a tenuous lead turned into the team's 10th win — the first time in six seasons they've had a double-digit win total."

"Last season, the Giants had the 30th-ranked scoring defense, one that surrendered one late lead after another. Since Week 7 of this season, their scoring defense has been the best in the league. And Giants opponents have yet to score a touchdown in seven drives with the chance to tie or take the lead in the final two minutes of a game or overtime. That the new pieces have come together so quickly is certainly a testament to their talent but also to how defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has deployed them. Spagnuolo slipped out a side door after the game, but his handiwork has been obvious. The run defense, with Harrison's dominance, is eighth in the league in rushing yards allowed. They have not allowed a 300-yard passing game since Week 6. Last week, the Giants made Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott -- both considered MVP candidates before the game -- ordinary. This week, Matt Stafford -- another MVP contender -- went 24-of-39 passing for 273 yards, one interception and no touchdowns."

"The Giants were gifted a knockout-blow touchdown in the fourth quarter thanks to an unbelievable individual effort by Odell Beckham, who outstretched his non-dominant left hand and hauled in a pass before slipping just inside the pylon. The Giants will take it. Their defense has come together beautifully and they may be the single most dominant unit in football heading into the final two weeks of the season. Should Manning, who still managed over 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns without an interception, find his form from last year, this is without a doubt a serious Super Bowl contender."

"So often already in his young N.F.L. career, Odell Beckham Jr. has seemed to pull the Giants to victory with his one-of-a-kind receiving gifts. It has almost come to be expected. And the Detroit Lions still could not stop him. A one-handed touchdown grab by Beckham late in the fourth quarter Sunday helped the Giants prevail, 17-6, at MetLife Stadium in a game between two of the N.F.C.'s best teams. At 10-4, the Giants now have the conference's second-best record. Detroit fell to 9-5." hands out game balls in Sunday's win over the Lions

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