When the New York Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history by defeating the New England Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII, one of the biggest factors in the game was the Giants defensive line putting pressure on Pats QB Tom Brady.
Brady was hit 9 times and sacked on 5 occasions. A Giants defensive lineman was responsible for 11 of those 14 QB collisions, including a sack and loss of 10 yards by Jay Alford in the Patriots final offensive series, a drive that ended in a 4-and-out.
The architect of the Giants defensive strategy in 2007 was current Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo. He was defensive coordinator in New York for 2 seasons, and his tenure there was highlighted by the team’s Super Bowl run at the end of 2007, when Spagnuolo’s defense had a string of impressive performances in which they held the league’s top 3 offensive teams – Green Bay (2), Dallas (3) and New England (1) – to a total of 51 points during their postseason run.
The common thread for the Giants in their ability to shut down powerful offenses was a defensive line that pressured the QB. Suffice it to say, Spagnuolo knows a little something about defensive lines. And he’s impressed with the unit the Vikings have put together.
“They are different in some ways, but the results are the same,” Spagnuolo said when asked to compare his former defensive line in New York to the one that exists currently in Minnesota. “That’s an explosive, very productive unit and one that everybody has to deal with. There is no weakness across the board and that’s what makes them so great.”
When he was in New York, Spagnuolo built up a line that featured more than just 4 good starters. Aside from stars Osi Umeyiora and Michael Strahan, the Giants also had in their DL stable players such as Alford, Barry Cofield, Fred Robbins, Dave Tollefson and Justin Tuck. Spagnuolo assesses the Vikings as having similar depth.
“They do it as a group and it’s not just four; they are firing five, six, seven other guys in there,” the Rams coach said. “(DL coach)Karl Dunbar does a great job and Leslie (Frasier), who I have a great deal of respect for and is a close friend of mine, does a tremendous job there. They package that thing well together and they’ve got good players.”
Tags: Karl Dunbar, Leslie Frazier
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