Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul recorded three sacks and returned a fumble for a touchdown to help lead the Giants to their sixth straight win with a 27-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Pierre-Paul's fumble return technically never hit the ground, so he called it an interception. In a one-score game early in the fourth quarter, Johnathan Hankins hit Browns quarterback Josh McCown, and the ball landed into Pierre-Paul's hands. Pierre-Paul returned it 43 yards to turn a 14-6 game into a two-touchdown lead.
"It's still an interception, man," Pierre-Paul said, according to Newsday's Neil Best. "How else can you get seven points? The ball never touched the ground, so we'll call it an interception."
The 27-year-old defensive end said he probably still would have caught it last year, when he missed eight games and had to play with a club on his right hand due to a fireworks mishap on July 4. That said, he still recovered two fumbles last year.
"Yeah, a year ago, I could have caught it with the club," he said. "It probably would have been harder, but I would have caught it. I recovered fumbles a year ago. ... See, you forgot all about that."
Pierre-Paul, recorded two of his three sacks in the fourth quarter, his final one sealing the game as McCown lost control of the ball and Kerry Wynn recovered it.
"He's been playing like a monster," Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon said.
What matters more? How many sacks a defensive end has or when those sacks come? I say the latter. JPP has been all over the field this year and now he has the numbers to reflect that effort. When he is not surging at the quarterback, he's batting down passes, forcing fumbles and cutting off running lanes.
JPP has seven sacks after 11 games after having just one during the first half of the season. Since the Giants played the Rams in London, they have gone from last in the league in sacks to 12th. Look out, NFL.
Olivier Vernon has been right there with Pierre-Paul and now has 5.5 sacks of his own. They are turning into the 1-2 edge rush punch the Giants had hoped for when they shelled out a combined $95 million dollars for the duo back in March. Each player also has 20 QB hurries, tied for fifth in the NFL.
The Giants' defense is back in business. That means they are back in business. The touchstone of their championship teams has been their ability to apply pressure on quarterbacks. That feature has resurfaced the past few weeks and it's no wonder the Giants are on a six-game winning streak.