You have to admit it was strange to see the Patriots' Pro Bowl quarterback harassed as much as he was in this game. He was hit on more than half of his first 17 pass attempts in the first half alone -- the Giants sacked him three times and knocked him down six other times -- and Brady actually looked rattled at times. He couldn't stand in the pocket long enough to throw deep to Moss, and he even seemed confused at times. The bottom line: Brady faced his toughest challenge of the season at the worst possible time (he was sacked five times).
Said Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo: "We never put a number on it, but we said all week that we had to hit [Brady] whether he completed a pass or not. But that guy also is a warrior. When he was leading them down the field [for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:42 left], he wasn't thinking about the hits he took earlier in that game."
The impact of Faulk's left hamstring injury -- he limped off the field after the Patriots' first possession of the second half -- can't be underestimated. Faulk had been the best player on the New England offense in the AFC Championship Game win over San Diego two weeks ago, and he was just starting to give New York fits with his receptions out of the backfield Sunday. Without him at full strength, the Pats lost one of Brady's favorite third-down options. And as talented as Laurence Maroney is, he's not as clutch in those situations as Faulk can be.
"Kevin Faulk is as dangerous on third down as [Patriots wide receiver] Wes Welker is," Giants safety Gibril Wilson said. "They lost a lot when he wasn't out there."
Jeffri Chadiha covers the NFL for ESPN.com.