The Giants don’t throw the ball well and are no better than mediocre at rushing or defending the pass.
But stopping the run? That’s supposed to be their identity — a pillar of toughness emphasized by general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Joe Judge.
Charge the Ravens with identity theft.
The NFL’s top rushing offense gouged the Giants for 249 yards Sunday as Gus Edwards (85), Lamar Jackson (80) and J.K. Dobbins (77) all topped 75 yards on the ground to lead the Ravens to a 27-13 victory.
“We didn’t do a good job setting the edge and they took advantage of it,” defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence said. “We were out of gaps and they found a way to get there. We didn’t do the best job tackling or being disciplined.”
The Giants invested high draft picks or big contracts in Lawrence, Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson along the line and middle linebacker Blake Martinez to build the NFL’s No. 6-ranked rushing defense.
“[The goal] up front is whoop a– and let the linebackers flow,” Lawrence said. “That’s what we do.”
It wasn’t on Sunday. Not from the start.
The Ravens built a 14-0 first-quarter lead by winning at the point of attack. They rushed 16 times for 95 yards and gained 11 first downs — blowing up Giants safety Logan Ryan’s blueprint to an upset of getting the early lead and taking away the run.
“You can’t really mirror Lamar Jackson,” Ryan said. “It’s something you’ve got to get adjusted to in the game. When you have a running quarterback and they are committing 11 guys to running the ball and the fullback is 300 pounds, they are going to move the ball a bit.”
This wasn’t just a bit. By early in the third quarter, the Ravens eclipsed the Cardinals (159) as the team with the most rushing yards against the Giants this season.
“They did a good job of keeping their third downs manageable and rushing for 4 or 5 [yards] at a time,” Ryan said. “In the red area, you have to hold Baltimore to field goals, get turnovers and plays that get them off rhythm. And we didn’t get that.”
The bigger concern for the Giants? Missed tackles. Lots of them.
“Ultimately that has been something that has been a strength for us this year,” Judge said. “Our guys really improved in tackling and spacing of in-line, short-space tackles. To be honest with you, that was surprising today to see that. We have to do some things better fundamentally.”
One week after containing the No. 3-ranked rushing attack with a trade-off that allowed the Browns to win through the air, Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham finally ran out of answers. Graham has gotten the most out of an undermanned unit all season through pre-snap disguises and other forms of trickery.
There was nothing tricky about the smash-mouth Ravens.
“We played a scheme early to handle a lot more with the run,” Judge said. “Lamar came out and did a really good job throwing the ball. They made some contested catches. With this team, the focus is to stop the run. Pat made some adjustments. We need to play good complementary football.”
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