EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Giants' 10-sack assault of the Chicago Bears Sunday night vaulted them into a tie for the NFL sack lead. The Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans and the Giants each have 16 sacks.
Winning the NFL sack title not only gives a defense something to brag about, it is often an indicator of team success.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in the 40 seasons from the 1970 merger through 2009, the team that led the league in sacks made the playoffs 30 times (75 percent). Five of those teams reached the Super Bowl and three won it. The last team to finish first in sacks in the regular season and win the Super Bowl was … the 2007 Giants. Everyone knows they upset New England in Super Bowl XLII. What is perhaps forgotten is that they had an NFL-best 53 sacks that season.
In 2009, the Minnesota Vikings led the NFL with 48 sacks. They advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
Of course, the correlation between sacks and success doesn't always hold up. Two years ago, the Dallas Cowboys led the league with 59 sacks but still finished out of the playoffs. Before 2007, the Giants had last led the NFL in sacks in 1998, when they had 54. That team finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
With 16 in four games, the Giants already have half as many sacks as their 2009 full season total of 32. That's a good sign, considering the team's sack totals dropped from 53 in 2007 to 42 in 2008 to 32 last year.
If they continue at their present pace, the Giants will finish the season with 64 sacks. That's an impressive total, but it would not be a franchise record (since sacks became an official stat in 1982). In 1985, the Giants finished with 68 sacks, including 15.5 by defensive end Leonard Marshall and 13.5 by Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor. (The NFL record is 72 sacks, set by the 1984 Chicago Bears.) The second-highest total in team history is 59, set in the 1986 championship season, when Taylor led the league with 20.5.
The Giants have finished a season with more than 50 sacks seven times. They made the playoffs in four of those seasons – 1985, 1986, 1997 and 2007.
Several Giants are among the league leaders in sacks. Mathias Kiwanuka, who didn't play Sunday night because of a neck injury, and Osi Umenyiora are tied for fifth in the NFL with 4.0 sacks. Justin Tuck is tied for 15th with 3.0 – all against the Bears.
Umenyiora's three sacks vs. Chicago increased his career total to 52.5. He is the fifth Giants player to reach 50 career sacks:
Giants Career Sacks Leaders
|1. Michael Strahan||
|2. Lawrence Taylor||
|3. Leonard Marshall||
|4. Keith Hamilton||
|5. Osi Umenyiora||
*Totals since 1982, when sacks became an official statistic.
Tuck increased his career total to 32.0 and moved past Jessie Armstead and Erik Howard and into eighth place on the team's career list.
*Tom Coughlin turned 100 on Sunday. Well, not really. But he did coach his 100th regular season game as the Giants head coach. He is the fifth coach in franchise history to reach the century mark. With a 57-43 record, Coughlin has the second-highest victory total among Giants coaches at the 100-game mark, though his record is almost identical to two other coaches at the same juncture in their Giants tenures.
RECORDS THROUGH 100 GAMES WITH GIANTS
The 57th victory tied Coughlin with Jim Lee Howell for fourth on the Giants head coaching list, one behind Fassel. It was also his 125th career regular season victory, which ties him with former New Orleans and Indianapolis coach Jim Mora for 23rd on the NFL's all-time list.
*Including his eight-year tenure in Jacksonville, Coughlin has coached in 228 regular season and 15 postseason games. The Giants' defensive production Sunday night was among the best in his 15-year career.
The Bears' 110 total yards were the third-lowest allowed by a Coughlin-coached team. The Jaguars held Cleveland to 53 yards on Dec. 3, 2000 and the Giants limited Tampa Bay to 86 yards on Sept. 27, 2009.
Chicago's 51 net passing yards were the second-lowest by a Coughlin opponent. The Browns had minus-9 passing 10 years ago against Jacksonville. It was the lowest passing total by a Giants opponent since Oct. 19, 2003, when Philadelphia threw for only 47 yards – but won, 14-10.
The Bears finished with six first downs, which trail only those Browns (two) and those Buccaneers (five) for the lowest total vs. a Coughlin team.
*Chicago punted nine times, tying a Coughlin-era high for a Giants opponent. It was the sixth time a Giants opponent has punted that often since Coughlin arrived in 2004.
*The Bears were 0-for-13 on third-down conversions attempts. It was the first time a Giants opponent was 0-for-13 or worse on third downs in a regular-season game since the merger. However, the Washington Redskins were 0-for-14 against the Giants in the 1986 NFC Championship Game.
*Jay Cutler, Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie completed passes for the Bears Sunday night. It was the first time three different quarterbacks completed passes against the Giants since Oct. 3, 2004 when Green Bay's Brett Favre, Doug Pederson and Craig Nall did it in a 14-7 Giants victory.
*Ahmad Bradshaw was selected the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Giants' 17-3 victory over Chicago. Bradshaw rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and caught two passes for 14 yards. His three-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter gave the Giants a 10-0 lead. The score was set up by Bradshaw's 25-yard run immediately preceding the touchdown.
Bradshaw is the first Giant to win the Offensive Player of the Week award since Derrick Ward was honored in Week 16 of the 2008 season after he rushed for 215 yards on just 15 carries in an overtime victory over Carolina.
The last Giant to win any weekly award was Domenik Hixon, who was the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week in Week 13 of the 2009 season.
Bradshaw is fifth in the NFL with 382 rushing yards, eighth in yards from scrimmage with 443 and tied for seventh with 22 first downs.
*With Bradshaw's 129-yard outing, the Giants' record under Coughlin when a back runs for at least 100 yards improved to 30-10.
*The win over the Bears was the 350th regular season home victory in Giants history.