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Giants D sparked by DE Okwara & LB Kennard


*Media experts react to the Giants following Sunday night's win over the Cowboys: *

With the absence of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, it was no secret that someone on the Giants needed to step up Sunday night against the first-place Dallas Cowboys.

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The Giants, who swept the season series with a 10-7 victory, saw both rookie defensive end Romeo Okwara and third-year linebacker Devon Kennard set the tone for a defense that held the Cowboys to just seven points and did not allow a score in the final three quarters.

Okwara, who made his first career NFL start on Sunday night, led the way with a team-high eight total tackles, five of them solo, deflected a pass and registered his first career sack that resulted in a five-yard loss in the second quarter. Okwara also added 1.5 tackles for a loss and was a force to be reckoned with all night.

"He was obviously inspired," coach Ben McAdoo said. "He played at a high level and played with a great motor. It was encouraging to see."

"(I had) a little bit of nerves, but I think they were good nerves," Okwara said. "I was calm right before the game. … I am just excited to be where I am and it is just a great feeling."

Fellow defensive linemen Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon were confident all week in Okwara's ability to step up and fill the void.

"He played big," Harrison said. "He got his first sack. I was happy for him. He got in there a couple times on some big plays. We have faith in him, that's why coach started him. You know if it wasn't for that he wouldn't be out there. We knew what he was capable of, it was just a matter of him going out there and showing it."

"We had confidence in him all week," Vernon said. "We had confidence in the young guys all week to go out there and be able to perform. Those guys have been ready. All of the young guys have always been ready throughout the week preparation-wise and it showed out there today."

The players behind them also stepped up.

Kennard had his biggest game of the season with six tackles, four of them solo, including a sack for an eight-yard loss on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Kennard also forced a fumble in the second quarter. Both the sack and forced fumble were his first since Dec. 14, 2014.

"I thought DK was flying around, making plays," McAdoo said. "He had a nice batted ball in the last drive. It was encouraging to see."

It certainly was.

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