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Giants have a new weapon in their quest to stop the run. Movie night.

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SAN FRANCISCO — There was popcorn, and there were drinks. The TV was on, and half of the Giants defense was at Kenny Phillips’ house.


Wednesday night was like movie night at Phillips’ house. Except the movie wasn’t from the video store.


Instead, a large group of Big Blue’s defenders had gathered there to huddle around laptops and dissect Sunday’s opponent, the San Francisco 49ers. They broke down Niners tailback Frank Gore, studied their own mistakes from the previous week against the New England Patriots, and discussed their own tendencies.


It was the latest late-night study session for a team that has started using them frequently. And it’s all part of the Giants’ latest effort to shore up their seemingly broken run defense.


“Whatever it takes to get better,” Phillips said, “whatever it takes to try to get on the same page to build that chemistry. We’re basically enjoying each other’s company, then basically just watching film, trying to get on the same page.”


The defense has held these film sessions all season, but in recent weeks, attendance has skyrocketed. What began as small five-man study halls has “everybody trying to get involved,” Phillips said.


The sessions touch on all aspects of the defense, but lately, players have focused on a run defense that surrenders a whopping 127.1 yards per game, which ranks 24th in the league . The Giants know they are running out of time to fix their greatest flaw. Sunday, they face the Niners, and next week, the Eagles’ top-ranked rushing offense comes to MetLife Stadium. The week after that brings the Saints and their 126-rushing yards per game.


“It’s getting better,” said defensive end Justin Tuck, “but it is not where we want it to be.”


Gore, the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher, will provide the unit with its toughest test so far. The bruising seventh-year back has five straight 100-yard outings, and he has been so effective that pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora called him “outside of Adrian Peterson . . . probably the best running back in football.”


“How hard is it to stop Frank Gore? There is no answer,” Tuck said. “We have a huge challenge slowing him down.”


Players are hoping that all those extra film sessions will help. Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said the squad saw evidence of that last week, when it held the New England Patriots to 104 yards rushing. It was Big Blue’s best defensive performance since the Rams rushed for just 59 yards in Week 2.


To Kiwanuka, the improvement had little to do with Perry Fewell’s play-calling or defensive sets or anything else. Instead, the linebacker said, the unit was sharper because those relentless film sessions helped players understand their roles on the field.


Early in the season, the Giants struggled to know their roles, as rookie linebackers Greg Jones and Jacquian Williams shuttled in and out of the lineup and Umenyiora and Tuck battled injuries along the defensive line. Kiwanuka didn’t always know for sure how Jones might handle a defensive play, and other players also battled those same issues.


Last week against the Patriots, however, things began to change. Linebacker Michael Boley said the Giants finally took away an opponent’s every rushing lane, and safety Deon Grant, who has been moving closer to the line of scrimmage to help stuff the run in recent weeks, added that players did not senselessly race to the ball against New England.


“Guys are just taking care of their responsibilities,” he said. “And not trying to do too much.”


Kiwanuka says that stems from improved trust. The Giants were pretty chatty in those film sessions, and eventually, that helped teammates to understand each other.


“Before (last week), we went out there, and we weren’t all together,” Kiwanuka said. “Now, when we go out there, I have an understanding of, ‘So if this is what I see, this is what it looks like to somebody else.’ We’re on the same page a lot more than we’ve been in weeks past.


“It’s not rocket science” he added. “Just cut out the mistakes, and everybody has to play smart.”


And make sure to show up for movie night.




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I think it's more of Gore having an injury that slow him down.


I said it before but today's lost was with the help of the sun in our WR's eyes. Not completely but it did help the 9ers


Ya, I like how everyone is saying we shut down Gore. The dude was out from like the middle of the 1st quarter on.


I think he was in for 2 possessions. And then came back in the 3rd for like a pass play, and immediately left again.


He was definitely hurt.

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