Just like the other two victories in the New York Giants' three-game winning streak, Sunday's clash with the Oakland Raiders wasn't very pretty. Quarterback Eli Manning threw for just 140 passing yards and the Giants turned the ball over three times, but another strong defensive effort was New York's ticket to victory.
"It's our job to make sure they don't score," said captain and defensive end Justin Tuck. "Today we kind of had some opportunities to prevent some scores and did a good job of it. That's pretty much it."
Taking advantage of opportunities was something that Tuck and his teammates did well on Sunday. They held Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor to just 11 completions on 26 attempts and forced him into two turnovers. Most importantly, though, was that the Giants defense held the athletic Pryor to just 19 rushing yards. That's his lowest rushing total of the season.
"He's slippery, man," said Tuck about Pryor. "There were five or six times where I felt like I should have had a sack and he kind of put on the afterburners and makes us all feel like we're running in quicksand. But, you know, that's kind of the way of the quarterback now."
The biggest play of the day was Terrell Thomas's 65-yard interception return that set up the go-ahead touchdown. With just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Giants trailing 20-14, Thomas stepped in front of a slant route by Denarius Moore and took the ball all the way back to the Oakland 5-yard line. The very short field was just what the struggling New York offense needed to punch the ball into the end zone.
"Everyone knows [Thomas's] story and how he's fought back from injuries," said Tuck. "He's been a consistent, just a great atmosphere around him and for him to come back and continue to play."
The Giants' ability to handle Pryor is a good sign considering that the team still has tough games against athletic quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson left on the schedule. If the defense can keep shutting opponents down, New York's postseason hopes will continue to rise.
"We still are in the hole but obviously it feels good to have three in a row here and two more games in a row at home. We're starting to play with a lot of confidence and that's something that hopefully we can continue to build on and continue to get back in this race."