New York Giants safety Kenny Phillips didn't exactly ease his way back into the starting lineup Sunday after a grueling 11 months of rehabilitation from microfracture surgery. The former Miami Hurricane was incredibly active and I thought he made a play on the Panthers' third possession that changed the course of New York's 31-18 victory.
Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams appeared to have a clear path to the end zone when Phillips dove at his feet and made a shoestring tackle to prevent the touchdown. The Panthers settled for a field goal and a 3-0 lead. I thought that play set the tone for the rest of the game. Yes, I know Deon Grant's interception at the goal line on the previous possession was big, but Phillips' tackle prevented what appeared to be a walk-in touchdown.
"I grabbed his legs, but he’s a big, strong runner," Phillips told reporters after the game. "It takes a little bit more than that. But he fell down before the [first] down."
The Giants were held hostage by the safety position in 2009 but the arrival of Antrel Rolle and Grant has fortified that group. And with Phillips returning, the position has become a major strength for the Giants. There were a lot of decisive moments in the Beast in Week 1 (Alex Barron, anyone?), but Phillips' tackle really stood out.