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Giants Now: Next Gen Stats praises Big Blue defense

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Next Gen Stats praises Giants' defensive front vs. Panthers

The Giants defense put together a dominant overall performance against the Carolina Panthers this past Sunday.

Big Blue held Sam Darnold and the Panthers offense to a mere 173 total yards, including just 117 net passing yards. Patrick Graham's unit registered a season-high six sacks, including 2.5 from rookie linebacker Azeez Ojulari and 1.5 from defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund took a look at some of the most head-turning performances from Week 7, and coming in at No. 4 on the list was the the Giants' defensive front.

"Rookie Azeez Ojulari had 8 pressures and 2.5 sacks on 29 pass rush attempts for a ridiculous 27.6 percent pressure rate," said Frelund. "Leonard Williams added 7 pressures and 1.5 sacks on 36 pass rush attempts for a 19.4 percent pressure rate."

As a unit, the Giants defense recorded a total of 28 pressures against Carolina.

Perhaps the most impressive stat from Sunday's game was the defense's success on third down. The Panthers had 15 third-down attempts and converted on just two of them for a conversion percentage of 13.3 percent.

Darnold threw for 111 yards and an interception for a passer rating of 57.2. He was then benched for backup QB P.J. Walker, who was able to complete just 3 of 14 passes for 33 yards and a passer rating of 39.6. Each quarterback was sacked three times.

Ojulari's performance earned him a nomination for the Pepsi Rookie of the Week Award. He now has a team-high 5.5 sacks on the year, which is the most among all rookies and matches the Giants rookie record for most sacks in a season. His 68.8 pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus is the highest among rookie edge defenders this season.

Williams is second on the team with 4.5 sacks. His 79.5 overall grade is tied for the 10th-best among all interior defensive linemen, while his 84.0 run defense grade is the third-highest mark at his position.

Vote Azeez Ojulari for Pepsi Rookie of the Week

After each slate of games, Pepsi nominates six players around the NFL for its Rookie of the Week Award. In Week 7, Azeez Ojulari stands out as the lone defender in the group.

The second-round draft choice had the best game of his young career against the Panthers, registering 2.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and eight total pressures. Ojulari was also nominated in Week 3 after becoming the first player in franchise history to record a sack in each of his first three games.

"As I continue to play these games, I'm getting used to it and adjusting to the game speed and everything. It's just kind of slowing down for me and getting better by the week..." Ojulari told the media Monday. "I'm blessed to be able to go out there and compete and make those big plays out there. At the end of the day, I was just happy to get the win, to get back in the win column. I'm just happy to get the win for the team and just continue to go from there and just keep going. So, it was a great day."

The other nominees for this week's award include:

  • New England Patriots QB Mac Jones: 24 of 36 (66.7 percent) for 307 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Cincinnati Bengals WR Ja'Marr Chase: 8 receptions for 201 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Atlanta Falcons TE Kyle Pitts: 7 receptions for 163 yards
  • San Francisco 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell: 18 carries for 107 yards (5.9 avg.) and 1 touchdown
  • Chicago Bears RB Khalil Herbert: 133 scrimmage yards (18 carries for 100 yards, 5 receptions for 33 yards)

Inside the Numbers: Giants vs. reigning champions

They will play two games in MetLife Stadium, the first against the Las Vegas Raiders, who are 2-0 under interim coach Rich Bisaccia, currently lead the AFC West and will be coming off their bye, and the second vs. the Philadelphia Eagles in their initial NFC East home game.

But it is the road games that could make this a truly memorable month for the Giants. They will play as visitors twice, with each game on a Monday night and each against a team that played in Super Bowl LV nine months ago. The Giants will visit the two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs this Monday, Nov. 1, and the reigning Super Bowl titlist Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 22 (after their bye).

This is the first season since 2000 in which the Giants are playing both participants from the previous year's Super Bowl. The Giants lost to both the Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams that season, though they did advance to Super Bowl XXXV.

The Giants, like most teams, do not have a dazzling record against teams that recently competed for the Lombardi Trophy. They are 7-24 in regular-season games against defending Super Bowl champions. The Giants have lost their last eight regular-season games vs. sitting champions, most recently at New England in 2019. Their last victory against the team that won the previous season's title was their last-minute, 20-16, triumph against the 13-0 Denver Broncos on Dec. 13, 1998.

In the playoffs, however, the Giants are a perfect 3-0 against defending champions, defeating the San Francisco 49ers in 1985 at home and 1990 in Candlestick Park in the NFC Championship Game, and the Green Bay Packers in a 2011 divisional playoff game in Lambeau Field.

The Giants' record against the runners-up is similar to that vs. the champions. They are 6-20 in the regular season against Super Bowl losers and 1-0 in the playoffs (beating Philadelphia in 1981 in their first Super Bowl-era postseason game).

View photos from the New York Giants' 25-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium.

Sights & Sounds: 'Got the W, keep it rolling'

Check out the video below for a behind-the-bench view of Daniel Jones' trick play and more exciting moments from the Giants' 25-3 victory over the Panthers in this week's Sights & Sounds.

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