Defense wins championships. Throw in a solid offensive line, powerful running attack and the ability to throw the deep ball and that has the makings of a Super Bowl championship team. Try, back-to-back Super Bowl championship team.
“That’s why we’re having so much fun,” center Shaun O’Hara said. “It’s not just one guy doing it. We’re all working together.”
Tackle David Diehl agreed: “All of us are playing together and on the same page. Everything is trickling down from the coaches to the players. Everybody’s playing with one common denominator and that’s to go out there and try and win football games.”
Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens proved to be more than just another victory. The Ravens came into East Rutherford, N.J. with the league’s best rushing defense, but left having endured the worst ground-attack performance since 1995.
The Giants’ Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 207 yards. Bradshaw’s fell four yards shy of 100, which would have made him the first player to reach that milestone against the Ravens in 28 games dating back to 2006.
“We have great character on this football team and we know what we can do,” said Jacobs, who had a pair of one-yard touchdown runs. “We should have had more than that, but due to technical difficulties, we couldn’t get it done.”
Those technical difficulties were a pair of sore knees for Jacobs. He also left the game for a few minutes to go back to the locker room and get re-taped.
One of the reasons for the Giants’ potent rushing attack is fullback Madison Hedgecock’s ability to create space. The fourth-year veteran once positioned himself in front of Steven Jackson in St. Louis and now is in charge of setting up the league’s most dangerous running game. Jacobs credits Hedgecock for many of his big runs.
“I’ve been having fun since I’ve been here,” Hedgecock said. “This was a test for us as a group and we had success against them this week, but I’m not going to take anything away from those boys, they’re good.”
Hedgecock is looking forward to next week’s match up between the 9-1 Giants and the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals. The Birds have the second-most dangerous offense in the league, with nearly 400 yards a game, 300 of them in the air. It will be a test on the other side of the ball for New York.
“We’re going to try and keep their offense off the field,” Diehl said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence in our defense and if we can keep them off the field, they’ll be more rested to attack.”
There’s also opportunities for new stars to emerge with each game. This week’s was tight end Darcy Johnson. The undrafted rookie in 2006 out of Central Florida spent all of last season on injured reserve. On Sunday, his first NFL catch came on a one-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning. After the game, Johnson said his cell phone had over 30 congratulatory text messages.
“It feels great,” said Johnson, who plans on giving the ball to his mother. “I’m part of a Super Bowl championship team and just to contribute, to give something that can help us win, is awesome.”
There’s six games left for the Giants, who are riding a five-game win streak. With a three-game lead over the second-place Washington Redskins, the players know they have to watch their backs.
“Somebody always wants to be the number-one team,” said cornerback Corey Webster, who will challenge Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston next week.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t confident.
“I’m not surprised about anything we can do,” Jacobs said. “You might see one of us fly one day.”
That’s about the only thing I don’t think this Giants team can do.