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Calvin Sets the Pace for Jets' Vicious Pass Rush


2008 Preseason Week 3 - Jets vs Giants Photos

In a game that was ballyhooed as a battle of Bayou quarterbacks — Eli Manning vs. Brett Favre — it was the Jets defense that stole the show.

The Giants quarterbacks were fusilladed all night, resulting in eight sacks that helped carry the Jets to a 10-7 victory. Going in, much was made about the Giants' ferocious pass rush (which produced two sacks), but it was the Jets front seven that did the menacing.

"We didn't come out trying to prove anything against those guys," Kerry Rhodes said. "We just wanted to prove to ourselves that we can do it."

The proof was in the pounding.

Synopsizing the Green & White barrage was David Carr's getting sacked on back-to-back plays twice. And Eli Manning, behind the starting offensive line in the first half, was taken down three times; twice by Calvin Pace.

Pace's first sack, on a second-and-10 in the first quarter, was the Jets' first of the preseason and Pace's first as a Jet. And it was something they were conscious of.

"It meant something because we were looking to getting that first one out of the way," the outside linebacker said. "We're trying to get off to a good start."

Manning saw pressure up the middle and tried to scramble to his right but couldn't pull the Super Bowl slipperoo again as Pace hauled him down from behind for a 2-yard loss.

Pace's second drop of Manning kiboshed a potential scoring drive. The Giants faced a third-and-goal from the Jets 8 with 19 seconds left in the first half. Manning dropped back and before he had a chance to survey the field, Pace beat left tackle David Diehl around the edge, chased Manning back 16 yards and took him down. The sack forced the Giants to settle for a 42-yard field goal attempt, which Josh Huston missed.

"I was just trying to get some pressure on him and affect his throw," Pace said, "but I saw it open up and I went in there and got him."

David Harris, who had four tackles, also sacked Manning. Harris shot the "B" gap, he explained, and got through unblocked. "Literally unabated to the quarterback," Eric Barton jokingly interjected.

What's most encouraging for the Jets, though, is that they were that productive despite holding back schematically. There was some blitzing, but the defensive players agreed that it was mostly the individuals winning the one-on-one battles.

"We didn't even show a lot of stuff," Rhodes said excitedly. "We did a lot of base stuff and that's good. We wanted to get pressure with our base fronts and whenever you can do that, you'll be successful."

They were, holding the Giants scoreless for more than 46 minutes.

"It seemed like everything that was called worked," Harris said. "For some reason, everybody was honed in and it paid off. Whenever you can get a pass rush like today, it just makes everybody's job easier."

The second- and third-teamers followed suit. Kareem Brown, C.J. Mosley, Drew Coleman, Abram Elam and Cody Spencer kept the pressure on with a sack apiece in the second half, and Coleman iced the game with a sideline interception of André Woodson on the Giants' final drive.

"You're always happy with that kind of production, and a lot of different guys were involved," said head coach Eric Mangini. "We were working on some different things with the pressure package and to see those work was positive."

The Jets' 29 sacks last season ranked 25th in the NFL, so naturally, improving the pass rush was a focus of the off-season.

"We needed to put more pressure on the quarterback and help the rest of the defense out," Harris said. "Last year we felt like too many times we left them out of the dryer, hanging."

The acquisition of Pace was made with that in mind. The 6'4", 270-pound pass-rusher registered 6.5 sacks with the Cardinals last year,

"Calvin did a nice job tonight," Mangini said. "Not just the [sacks] he had, but he applied some pressure in some other areas."

According to Rhodes, Pace has been a terror on the edges in practice, and Saturday night it carried into the game.

"I don't want to hit all my home runs in the preseason," Pace joked. "It was about us fine-tuning. As well as we played, they still had a couple of big runs on us."

The Giants totaled 107 rushing yards on 5.1 yards per carry. Pace promised that those problems would be corrected this week in practice.

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