Giants defense in a deep 0-2 hole again

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The New York Giants defense has allowed 77 points in its first two losses.

The Giants were unable to sack Peyton Manning before dropping a 41-23 loss to the Denver Broncos at home on Sunday.

But perhaps there’s reason to be optimistic. The Giants defense has started a season actually worse than this before and managed to finish that season as a Super Bowl defense.

In 2007, the Giants surrendered a total of 80 points in the first two losses that season to Dallas and Green Bay. Steve Spagnuolo, then the defensive coordinator, came under fire but his unit turned things around, giving up a total of 79 points in the Giants’ next six games –- all wins.

Now, it is up to veterans like Justin Tuck and Corey Webster, who were on that team, to help defensive coordinator Perry Fewell turn things around or else this season could slip away very quickly.

“We gave up 80 [points in the first two games of 2007], I still remember it well,” Tuck said. “I mean, you are alarmed. I think we have done some good things. I think we have had opportunities to get off the field on third downs and in situations we have had balls on the ground that didn’t bounce our way and we didn’t make a play on them."

“But there are things that we need to work on,” he continued. “I would be a dummy to say that there are not.”

For the second straight game, the Giants defense played well in the first half. Fewell’s defense held Manning and the Broncos offense to just 10 points at halftime. Manning was held without a passing touchdown in the first half after throwing seven in the Broncos’ opener last week against Baltimore.

But the one touchdown they did surrender in the first half came on a 20-yard run by Knowshon Moreno, who scored easily along the right side as the Broncos offensive line sealed off Tuck and the left side of the Giants defense too easily.

On the Broncos’ first drive of the third quarter, Manning marched the team down for a touchdown, throwing a 2-yard strike to Wes Welker, pushing Denver up 17-9. The Giants answered with a touchdown to cut the deficit to one, and the defense had an opportunity to perhaps turn the game.

Manning completed a pass to Demaryius Thomas for 16 yards but Thomas fumbled the ball away. The ball bounced across the field from left to right and linebacker Mark Herzlich just couldn’t secure it as the ball bounced away from him and into Moreno’s hands.

So instead of potentially getting the ball near the Broncos 37-yard line, the Giants defense watched Manning march his team down the field before calling Moreno’s number. Moreno scored easily again, running to the right side for a 25-yard touchdown as Mathias Kiwanuka and the left side of the defense got sealed off.

The Broncos led 24-16 just before the end of the third quarter and a fluke interception at the start of the fourth gave the Broncos the ball in Giants territory. Moreno then gashed the Giants for 23 yards on two carries before Manning hit Julius Thomas for a 11-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach at 31-16.

Moreno rushed for 93 yards on 13 carries against a defense that made stopping the run a priority in the offseason.

“We had a great game plan, outstanding game plan,” safety Antrel Rolle said. “That is two weeks in a row that Perry has put something great together for us.”

“There are times when we go out there and play great,” Rolle added. “It is just the little things that we need to clean up. We got to clean up, got to learn how to attack, how to come together and learn how to fight the odds. Right now we are fighting the odds but we are not overcoming the odds.”

Since 1990, only 22 teams have overcome an 0-2 start to make it to the playoffs according to ESPN Stats & Info. And only three went on to win a Super Bowl. Of course, Tuck was on one of those teams that defied the odds.

“It is early in the season and the season is still right in front of us,” Tuck said. “What we want and what we want to do is within our reach. And we all know that, no doubt. But we got to play better.”