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After Big Blue topped Philly to even its record at 2-2 on Sept. 30, TGI took a close look at several key statistical areas and how New York was faring in each. Now that the Giants have finished, as Tom Coughlin likes to call it, their second phase, it's time to revisit some of these integral categories to see how much, if any, progress was made.

Not surprisingly, the Giants, in the midst of a six-game winning streak, have fared very well and improved in most areas.

The good…

Rushing offense

As well as Derrick Ward did filling in for Brandon Jacobs during the season's first quarter, he certainly wasn't Jacobs by any stretch. In the past four games, Jacobs has reached or topped 100 yards on three occasions. In his four-and-a-half games this season, the October NFC Offensive Player of the Month has averaged a ridiculous 5.6 yards per carry and 90 yards a game. He has the ground game humming, and has been one of the main reasons the Giants went 4-0 during the second phase. With 448 yards, Ward has been no slouch, and Reuben Droughns has excelled as the short-yardage back.

Last year: 134.8/game

This year: 137.8/game

Status: The return of Jacobs has proved huge here

Passing defense

New York began the season with horrible secondary play. After two games, that all changed in a big way. The coverage has improved, the pass pressure increased and all of a sudden the Giants boast the 11th-best pass defense in the entire league. Yeah, we admit we're a little surprised as well. Big Blue has eight interceptions, including three by rookie standout Aaron Ross. The pass D certainly changed for the better once Ross was inserted into the starting lineup in place of ineffective Corey Webster. Sam Madison has been much better this year than he was in 2006, when he was banged up for most of the season.

Last year: 228.1/game

This year: 197.5/game

Status: Perhaps the most pleasant overall improvement

Rushing defense

The Giants started the season very well in defending the run. Lately, they've been doing even better. Behind exceptional play up front, further improvement has been made in the season's second phase. Antonio Pierce has been his usual solid self in the middle and several D-linemen, like Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, have shown to be excellent against the run, in addition to terrors in the pass rush game. The fact that the Giants have had the lead in games for most of the second phase certainly helps out here as well.

Last year: 114.4/game

This year: 99.8/game

Status: They're certainly heading in the right direction here

Punt return

New York still isn't where it was last season, but it's inching closer. R.W. McQuarters gives everyone the security that he's going to catch the ball. Lately, he's been a little more of a threat in the return game as well. McQuarters has returned 19 punts for 156 yards and has come close to breaking one for a long gain a couple times in the past few weeks. The Giants also have Domenik Hixon on the roster as someone with punt return experience, but he hasn't yet been sent back deep. Hixon averaged 4.6 yards per return on seven punt returns before coming to New York this season.

Last year: 8.7/return

This year: 8.2/return

Status: We've seen slight in-season improvement here as well

The bad…

Passing offense

Eli Manning started off the season winging the ball all over the place. But for some reason, against lesser competition, he's been unable to keep it up. New York ranks only 23rd in the league in passing yards per game and Big Blue has dropped almost 40 yards per game since the end of the season's first quarter. Overall, Manning has 13 TDs against nine INTs and a 79.5 rating, which isn't bad by any stretch. However, everyone around the Giants, including the fans and media, is well aware that this passing attack is capable of so much more. Since the end of the first quarter there's been one other development as well: Anthony Wright took the backup job away from fan favorite Jared Lorenzen.

Last year: 191.1/game

This year: 196.2/game

Status: A total nosedive from the season's first quarter

The same…

Kickoff return

With a 23.4-yard average on 16 returns, Reuben Droughns has definitely injected some life into this unit, which is currently ranked 11th in the NFL. They're up plenty from last year and seem to be not only more consistent, but dangerous. Most dangerous is Ahmad Bradshaw, who lost the job earlier in the year due to ball security concerns. However, he was given another shot in London and responded very well on his one opportunity, bringing it back 35 yards. Hixon also remains in reserve here. He had a 22.8-yard average on 12 returns before joining the Giants.

Last year: 20.1/return

This year: 24.7/return

Status: Pretty much status quo here from the first quarter; still doing very well

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