The Giants led the Green Bay Packers by two touchdowns when Osi Umenyiora literally had a hand in ensuring the visitors would not stage a comeback.
Late in the second quarter, a 15-yard Aaron Rodgers pass had given the Packers a first down at their own 39. A touchdown would have cut their deficit to just seven points just before halftime. But on the next snap, Umenyiora easily beat tackle Marvin Newhouse and was credited with a sack as he swatted the ball from Rodgers' hand. Jason Pierre-Paul picked it up and returned it to the 23. Two plays later, Ahmad Bradshaw scored from 13 yards out and the Giants' lead was a healthy 21 points. They went on to win, 38-10.
The forced fumble has become Umenyiora's signature play. Few defensive linemen are as skilled at separating a quarterback from the ball while executing a sack.
The Elias Sport Bureau, official statistician for the NFL, does not recognize forced fumbles as an official statistic. But Elias does track them by reviewing the play-by-play of every NFL game. Unofficially, Elias has Umenyiora with 32 forced fumbles since he entered the NFL in 2003. That is the league's fifth-highest total during that time, behind Indianapolis' Robert Mathis (40), Chicago's Charles Tillman (36), the Colts' Dwight Freeney (35) and Atlanta's John Abraham (33).
In 2010, Umenyiora had 10 forced fumbles, which is believed to have tied an NFL record set by Miami's Jason Taylor in 2006. But because Elias doesn't consider forced fumbles an official stat, it doesn't acknowledge the record. Apparently, however, no one has ever had more than 10 forced fumbles in a season.
Every one of those 10 forced fumbles in 2010 was on a sack – a strip sack. Elias doesn't track those either. But Zach Groen, a media relations intern with the New England Patriots, recently did an exhaustive study of strip sacks (because Pats rookie Chandler Jones also has a knack for executing that particular play). Groen determined that Umenyiora's 10 strip sacks in 2010 are an NFL record. San Francisco's Roy Barker in 1996 and Taylor in 2006 each had eight.
While those numbers aren't considered official, they are certainly indicative of Umenyiora's ability to force a turnover and influence a game while harassing opposing quarterbacks.
Of course, Umenyiora has long made life miserable for quarterbacks even without forcing them to lose the ball. His sack on Sunday increased his career total to 74.0. That places the two-time Pro Bowler 10th among active players and fourth on the Giants' career list (since sacks became an official stat in 1982). In third place is Leonard Marshall with 79.5 sacks.
*Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes in the rout of Green Bay to increase his career total to a Giants-record 200. Phil Simms had owned the mark with 199 touchdown passes.
Here is the list of Manning's milestone touchdown passes:
*Manning's 200 regular-season touchdown passes have been caught by 26 different receivers. Rookie Rueben Randle became the 26th when he scored on a 16-yard pass from Manning in the first quarter. Plaxico Burress is first on the list with 33 touchdown passes from Manning, followed by Nicks (25), Shockey (19) and Manningham and Kevin Boss (18 apiece).
*Manning is currently 33rd on the NFL's career touchdown passes list and 34th on the career yards list.
Roman Gabriel and Tennessee's Matt Hasselbeck each have 201 career touchdown passes, while No. 30 Jim Everett retired with 203.
Manning has thrown for 30,469 yards. Immediately ahead of him at No. 33 is former Giant Norm Snead, with 30,797 yards.
*The Giants became the 15th NFL franchise with at least one quarterback with 200 career touchdown passes. San Francisco has the most such passers with three (John Brodie and Hall of famers Joe Montana and Steve Young).
*In the last two weeks, San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick and Arizona's Ryan Lindley were first-time starting quarterbacks. That increased to 142 the number of quarterbacks that have started for the other 31 NFL team since Manning made his first start on Nov. 21, 2004.
*Detroit tackle Jeff Backus was inactive for the Lions' Thanksgiving Day loss to Houston, the first game he missed in his 12-year career. That ended a streak of 186 consecutive starts for Backus. Manning has started 130 games in a row, which is now the fifth-longest streak in the NFL:
*Manning's 59-yard completion to Bradshaw (actually a short pass followed by a long run) was his second-longest ever to a running back. Brandon Jacobs scored on a 74-yard reception vs. Dallas on Dec. 6, 2009.
*Randle, Nicks, Bradshaw, Victor Cruz and Andre Brown all scored touchdowns vs. Green Bay. It was the first time the Giants had five different players score touchdowns in a game since Dec. 21, 2009 at Washington, where Bradshaw ran for two scores, Steve Smith, Derek Hagan and Manningham caught touchdown passes and Terrell Thomas returned an interception for another touchdown. The last time they had five offensive players score was against Philadelphia on Dec. 13, 2009, when Jacobs and Bradshaw had rushing touchdowns and Boss, Nicks and Domenik Hixon caught Manning scoring passes.
*The Giants are 17-4 when Manning throws three touchdown passes.
*Manning's record as a starter is 76-54; he is 38-28 at home and 38-26 on the road.
*Nicks' five catches vs. the Packers increased his career total to 243. That moved him past Del Shofner (239) and Alex Webster (240) and into a tie with Earnest Gray for 13th place on the Giants' career list.
*In the fourth quarter Sunday night, the Giants had a 17-play drive that took 9:23 to complete. It was their longest drive in number of plays and time since a 19-play that consumed 13 minutes at Seattle on Nov. 7, 2010. Ironically, the Giants scored on neither drive. They gave the ball up on downs against the Packers and took a knee at the end of the series in Seattle to close out a 41-7 victory.
*The Giants did not have a turnover Sunday night. They have won their last 10 and 12 of 13 regular-season games in which they had no offensive turnovers. They last had no turnovers and lost on Nov. 8, 2009 vs. San Diego, a 21-20 defeat.
*Lawrence Tynes continues to lead the NFL in scoring with 117 points, six more than New England's Stephen Gostkowski.