Imagine a world where the New York Giants have a dominant defense and rely on their running game to provide scoring for the offense. Ball-hawking safety Antrel Rolle intercepts two passes while workhorse back Ahmad Bradshaw runs for 116 yards and a Touchdown on 27 carries.
Believe it or not, that was the storyline for the Giants last week against the 49ers. Sure, Eli Manning played as well as he usually does and could have had an even more impressive game if not for the usual few drops by his receivers, but his late game heroics were rendered unnecessary thanks to dominant performances by some aspects of the team that have been lacking—some for as long as two years.
Ahmad Bradshaw ran for a whopping 200 yards against the Cleveland Browns in Week 5, but this was largely acknowledged as an anomaly against a weak team and it was widely assumed that he would come crashing back down to earth versus the 49ers, a staunch defense which had not allowed 100 yards to a running back since Chris Johnson in 2009. Bradshaw responded by pounding the rock for well over 100 yards, and even rookie David Wilson got into the mix with 35 yards on 7 carries. The success for the running game can largely be attributed to the Offensive Line, which has only seemed to get better and better ever since RT David Diehl was injured in Week 2. Diehl did play this week, albeit as an extra blocker on running plays, and the entire line (including the Tight Ends and Fullback) did a superb job in both the run game and pass protection.