For one game at least, the Giants kept their differences inside the locker room and listened to someone other than themselves.
Spurred both by addresses from Ring of Honor members Michael Strahan and Jessie Armstead, the Giants' defense came out and completely shut down the Bears' offense Sunday night. But it wasn't just the two fiery former leaders who got them going. It was the criticism of the last two weeks, and the thought from outsiders that Tom Coughlin was losing the hearts and minds of his players.
They might not have made those 10 sacks as a direct show of support for their coach who, even in the best of times, can be bristly. But there was an element of loyalty there, especially in light of another Ring member's opinions of the week, Tiki Barber.
"No question about that," DE Osi Umenyiora said after his three-sack outing. "He's an outstanding coach, and he has our back. We didn't like what we heard, and we had to go out there and play for him. We had to play also for all the Giants who came before us."
Justin Tuck, who also had three sacks, said Coughlin's grasp of the team was never in doubt.
"We know what goes on in the locker room," Tuck said. "How we feel about each other and coach Coughlin; we don't worry about anybody outside these walls. I love (the media), but I don't play the game for you. I love the fans, but they don't play the game for us.
"As long as that 53 in the locker room is together, that's all I worry about. I think coach Coughlin has a great hold on us. So I'm not worried about that."
If backing up Coughlin did have anything to do with Sunday night, the philosophy worked. The Giants held the Bears to just 110 yards of total offense, put two quarterbacks on the sideline, and created three turnovers. On a night when Giants defensive greats Andy Robustelli, Strahan, Armstead, and George Martin personally saw their names unveiled on the new Ring of Honor, the present-day Giants got back to playing the ferocious defense that marked the franchise's history.
For the first time this year, Perry Fewell's multiple-look schemes paid off big. Tuck played outside and in, even getting one of his sacks while lining up directly over the center. With a new tackle replacing the injured LT Chris Williams, the Giants knew they would have matchup advantages.
One of those was Umenyiora against Williams' replacement Frank Omiyale, who moved over from the right side. He tore Omiyale apart, reminding one of the six-sack game he had in ‘07 against then-Eagles rookie Winston Justice. Second-year right guard Lance Louis was also no match for Barry Cofield, and he eventually went out with a knee injury.
The result? Nine sacks in the first half, an NFL record. Ten sacks overall, the third time in history they've reached that number. They fell two short of the record of 12, set during that ‘07 game against Philly.
"It felt like old No. 98 and No. 92 were back," Tuck said, referring to Armstead and Strahan.
For an evening at least, the team supported its coach and the voices of the past, in the person of Armstead and Strahan, were heard.