Getting after the quarterback is one thing.
Knocking them completely out of the game? That’s quite another story. Stuff like that can turn a game around quicker than any ordinary sack. For all it lacks in humaneness, a clean but legal, hard shot that puts a quarterback on the bench for the rest of the game only helps the cause.
It’s part of the reason the Giants woke up Tuesday morning at 5-2 and alone atop the NFC East. When Michael Boley put Tony Romo down with a busted clavicle, Romo became the fifth quarterback in seven games to fail to finish a game against the Giants’ defense. Carolina’s Matt Moore, Chicago’s Jay Cutler and backup Todd Collins, and Detroit’s Shaun Hill all preceded Romo to the bench, though not for such extended periods as Romo’s anticipated six to eight-week recovery time will be.
Not coincidentally, the Giants won all those games.
“You prepare yourself for that outstanding No. 1 quarterback in the game,” Coughlin said. “And you realize that pressure on the quarterback is an extremely important, resourceful way in which the game is played.
“You can’t allow these great quarterbacks to have all kinds of time to throw the ball, so it becomes a situation where you’re facing a game today that is very much pressure-oriented. You’re trying to realize that the quarterback position is where the turnovers come from, so you’re making them not throw where they want to throw or get a tip.”
The Giants have, quite simply, been unloading on quarterbacks. In contrast to Osi Umenyiora’s strip sacks, which inflict minimal damage on passers as he slaps at their hands, Boley’s early second-quarter blitz allowed him to come in untouched and bury Romo, driving his left shoulder into the Cowboys Stadium turf as he completed a 14-yard pass to Miles Austin.
Romo’s replacement, the well-traveled Jon Kitna, didn’t compare to the starter. Kitna finished 16-for-33 for 187 yards and two touchdowns, but those both came in the fourth quarter when the Giants’ defense grew soft. For most of his appearance, he was wild high and wild wide, often missing his receivers by yards, not inches.
Kitna wasn’t even close on his four end zone throws from the Giants’ 6.
Kitna was the worst of the backups the Giants have seen. The week before, Detroit’s third-stringer Drew Stanton didn’t play poorly at all. But the Lions still would have been better off with starter Shaun Hill, just because Hill had the practice reps.
Same with any starter.
“Most people in this league have quality backups who, when they come into a game, are in a position to contribute,” Coughlin said. “But let’s face it, the starting quarterback is the starting quarterback for a reason.”
Coughlin couldn’t say whether he ever had a defense that KO’ed quarterbacks at such a rate. It’s unlikely, however.
“I don’t know if I could tell you point blank if I have or haven’t,” Coughlin said. “But we’ve had teams that have got after the quarterback.”
The rest of the league probably wishes the Giants would stop.