Takeaways from the Giants' 17-12 victory over the Seattle Seahawks:
John Schmeelk: This is real now. No more asterisks. No more "well on the other hand". No more questions about the strength of schedule or the struggles of the NFC East. Even the biggest doubters have to believe in this Giants team now, their record be damned.
The Seahawks were undefeated at home this year and averaged 35 points per game. The Giants held them to 10 points (two came on a safety), and took advantage of Seattle's mistakes to grab two takeaways. Dk Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were held to fewer that 150 combined receiving yards and no touchdowns. Seattle had no passes of more than 30 yards.
The defense is real. They do not do it the traditional way with a star pass rusher flying off the edge and tight man-to-man defense with multiple top-tier cornerbacks, but that does not matter. This is one of the most assignment-sound football teams you'll see. They never allow big plays. They create takeaways. They stop the run.
Perhaps most importantly, the defensive coaches put a plan in place that allows the players on the field to play to their strengths within a scheme that gives the team a chance to win. They play a lot of zone defense, but it is not a soft zone defense. Coverage is tight, and defenders hit receivers hard. The team brings pressure on opposing quarterbacks from everywhere. They stunt and twist their defensive linemen to help players like Leonard Williams get to the quarterback more that they ever have before.
Offensively, the team does not throw the ball all over the yard or make a bunch of big plays, but they run and protect the football. The Giants had only three plays of 20 or more yards in the game and two were on the ground. The Giants ran for 190 yards on 31 carries against a team that had the third-best run defense in football. There are no "ifs and or buts" in a performance like that.
The Giants only turned the ball over once. The Giants have not had more than one turnover in a game during their four-game winning streak. They haven't lost the turnover battle in any of their wins. They are also consistently performing better than their opponents on third down and in the red zone. Their situational football has been consistently strong.
The Giants are not beating themselves and they are good enough at what they do to go on the road and beat good football teams. They are playing an old-school brand of football revolving around playing elite defense and running that football that I wasn't sure could still be successful in the modern NFL. They are proving me wrong. Is it sustainable? It certainly looks that way. We're certainly going to find out in the final four games of the regular season… and perhaps a playoff game(s) after that.
Dan Salomone: Well, the Giants certainly covered No. 3. MVP candidate Russell Wilson entered Sunday with his Seahawks averaging 31 points per game overall and the Giants held them to 12 points, their fourth consecutive game allowing fewer than 21 points.
"It's just an uncharacteristic type of feeling that we were not putting any points on the board," said coach Pete Carroll, whose Seahawks were 68-23 as the home team, including 6-0 in the postseason, since he took over in 2010. He added, "None of us have seen us play like that."
Giants fans were saying the same thing about their team on Sunday, but for the opposite reason. They hadn't seen the Giants play like that and get a signature win in quite some time. They were the first NFC East team to beat someone with a winning record this season (previously 0-17 combined in such games).
As Judge noted earlier in the 0-5 start, you're either viewed as the best team in the world or the worst team, depending on the week in the NFL. Right now, the Giants are enjoying some of the former. The key is to keep their sights short and focus on Arizona.
"We've got to get ready for a tough opponent going back home next week and that's the only thing that really matters," Judge said. "Nothing before that game matters except the lessons we learned from previous games and nothing after that game exists until we get past next week's game."
Lance Medow: For the second straight game, the Giants' defense put its stamp all over a victory. Entering Week 13, the Seahawks were third in the NFL, putting up more than 30 points per game. But the Giants held Russell Wilson and Co. to just one-third of their seasonal average (10 points) and only one touchdown, which didn't come until the fourth quarter. That's quite an accomplishment. So, how did they pull off such an impressive feat? They pressured Wilson and, most important, finished with some stellar coverage in the secondary.
The Giants recorded a season-high five sacks, but that number alone doesn't tell the whole story. Those five sacks resulted in a loss of 47 yards and three of them came when the Seahawks were in New York territory. Seattle was able to overcome just one of those five sacks (a trap of only 5 yards) to score a touchdown. The loss of yardage from the sacks completely changed field position as it knocked the Seahawks out of field goal range and stalled the momentum of drives.
Leonard Williams had half the team's sacks and set a career-high with 8.5 this season, surpassing the seven he had with the 2016 Jets. He has at least one sack in four of the last five games. Tae Crowder, Jabrill Peppers and Jabaal Sheard accounted for the other 2.5 sacks and that's essentially a microcosm of the entire season - 17 different players have recorded at least half a sack through 12 games. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham deserves a lot of credit for constantly utilizing different personnel and getting the most out of them, but you can't overlook the job the secondary is doing to help players finish up front. More often than not, Wilson had nowhere to go with the ball and held onto it long enough for the Giants to get plenty of hits on the quarterback (10).
Tied into New York's strong play on defense is the dramatic turnaround in turnover differential. The Giants are now plus-3 on the season and have 10 takeaways during this current four-game winning streak. A defense that plays fundamentally sound football and is opportunistic is extremely dangerous and that's why it's no surprise the Giants are on the upswing.
View photos from the Week 13 matchup between the Giants and Seahawks at Lumen Field.