EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — While the record certainly doesn’t show it, the New York Giants are stopping the run this season.
Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte have all tested the Giants’ front seven and come up with no more than 67 yards. Peterson had it the toughest, being limited to 28.
The one group that has given the defense a little trouble has been the athletic quarterbacks — Michael Vick, Cam Newton and Alex Smith.
That’s what will make this week tough when the re-energized Giants (2-6) look for their third straight win and kick off a three-game homestand with a contest against the Oakland Raiders (3-5) on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Raiders have the NFL’s fastest quarterback in Terrelle Pryor and the AFC’s top rushing game, averaging 147.8 yards with Darren McFadden leading the way.
Pryor is the wild card, the one who creates unexpected problems. He has run for 485 yards and needs 45 yards to break Rich Gannon’s single-season team record of 529 yards set in 2000.
“He is a freak athlete,” Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason said of the 6-foot-4, 233-pound Pryor. “To be that big and that fast, that is a tough tackle. You really have to gang tackle.”
What makes Pryor so dangerous is his ability to improvise when a pass play falls apart.
“He’s not going to stay there long,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “He understands how gifted he is as an athlete and considering that most people chasing him are nowhere near as fast as him, he has an advantage. He’s used it to pretty good success. I don’t know if he’s necessarily looking for it but when the opportunity’s there he’s not hesitating.”
Pryor isn’t looking to run.
“If it happens,” he said. “They’ve got a very good, deep front seven. If something happens where I have to get out and make a play . but I want to sit back and see if I can find some guys downfield and get some explosive gains in the passing game. “
The Giants, who have won two in a row after losing the first six, will be well rested after a bye week. The Raiders are regrouping after an embarrassing 49-20 loss to the Eagles, the team New York beat 15-7 before the bye.
“Those things happen in the NFL,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of the loss. “I don’t think there’s anybody that’s been in the National Football League that hasn’t been through one of those days. We happened to go through it last week, but we’ve got to learn from it, we’ve got to put it behind us, we’ve got to move on and we recognize that we have a tough challenge this week.”
The Giants have limited the opposition to 102. 3 yards rushing, with most of the big numbers coming early in the season. A year ago, opponents averaged 129.1 yards as the team missed the playoffs for the third time in four years.
The bad start has almost put the Giants in a must-win scenario for the remainder of the season.
Here are five things to look for in the Raiders’ first game against the Giants in four years:
East Coast woes
The Raiders have lost 11 straight games in the Eastern time zone since beating Pittsburgh in December 2009. They have been outscored 353-178 in those games. That margin does not include a 44-7 loss to the Giants in ’09 before the skid began. New York tight end Brandon Myers, who played for Oakland last season, said the problem for players is that getting up at 7:30 a.m. for a 1 p.m. game on Sunday still feels like 4:30 a.m. for those on Pacific time.
This will be the deepest New York has been at running back in weeks. Andre Brown, who was supposed to be the backup to David Wilson, is expected to make his season debut after breaking his left leg in the preseason finale. In-season signees Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis also are ready. Wilson is out with a neck injury.
With Tony Pashos and Matt McCants fighting injuries, second-round draft pick Menelik Watson could get his first career start at right tackle. Watson has played just two years of football before this year, one at a junior college and one at Florida State. He’s a former college basketball player at Marist.
Perry Fewell’s group has not given up a touchdown in 10 quarters, dating to the second quarter of a game against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 10. The only TDs scored by opponents in the past two games came on a punt return by Minnesota and a bad snap on a punt that was recovered in the end zone by Philadelphia.
Oakland has a lot of work to do in the secondary after giving up a league record-tying seven touchdown passes against Philadelphia’s Nick Foles last week. Foles threw for 406 yards and the Eagles gained 542 yards in total offense.