ometimes it is most obvious in body language. Aaron Rodgers’s shoulders drooped. He put his hands on his hips and kicked at the dirt. His head turned from side to side, as if he were looking for something — because something was definitely missing. His stride shortened, and his walk back to the sideline took longer with each trip to the bench.
This is what the Giants’ defense — at least the Giants’ postseason defense in 2012 and 2008 — can do to elite quarterbacks in big games.
It’s all too easy, and commonplace, to try to compare the Giants’ current run through the playoffs to their Super Bowl championship postseason four years ago. But one unmistakable comparison rings true. As it did four years ago, the Giants’ defense has gone through a startling metamorphosis as the games have grown more important, and what it does best is make opposing quarterbacks — even future Hall of Famers — look confused, frustrated and dejected.
As it once did to Tom Brady and his 18-0 New England Patriots, the Giants’ defense disrupted and flummoxed Rodgers and his 15-1 Green Bay Packers on Sunday until the game was a rout. The 37-20 Giants victory did the unthinkable: it made Rodgers, a most valuable player contender, look bad. And sent the Giants to the N.F.C. championship game next Sunday in San Francisco.