EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., NOV. 18 -- This was a clash of offensive ideologies: Detroit's run-and-shoot, the supposed fad of the 1990s, vs. O.J. & The Miracles, New York's ground-based, grind-it-out attack led by 32-year-old running back Ottis Anderson.
Guess which method prevailed?
A hint: The Giants are still undefeated after today, 10 and 0 and counting.
New York may have set the run-and-shoot back 10 years by picking apart the Lions, 20-0, before 76,109 at Giants Stadium. New York made it look easy in getting its first shutout since Week 15 of last season against Dallas. Detroit (3-7) looked as if it just wanted to go home.
"Detroit quit," said cornerback Everson Walls. "They just gave up."
Said Lions Coach Wayne Fontes: "We have a long way to go to catch up to the caliber of the Giants. They shut us down better than anyone has."
So New York continues its march toward a showdown with the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 3 at Candlestick Park, a game that is already being hyped as much as any postseason game. If both teams enter the game undefeated, it would be the first time 11-0 teams played each other.
The Giants also can start counting down to an NFC East title. They need to win two more games to capture the division for the second straight season. But should the Redskins lose in Dallas on Thanksgiving and New York beat Philadelphia next week at Veterans Stadium, the Giants would then win the division too.
"We're thinking about the Eagles not the 49ers," said linebacker Steve DeOssie. "Overall the feeling is we want to be 11-0. That's the first thing we said when we walked into the locker room after the game."
"We have to be careful," said Anderson, who rushed 23 times for 91 yards. "Everybody around the league is looking for us to lose. Everybody is saying, 'When?' But we're not complaining. We like the feeling of being undefeated."
They stayed unbeaten because New York has so many athletes on defense and so talented a quarterback in Phil Simms (13 of 18 for 170 yards and two touchdowns). The Giants got all their points before the half and then put the system on cruise control, handing the ball to Anderson, who got them there in the first place. Anderson, the oldest starting running back in the league, marks his 33rd birthday Monday.
High winds (22 mph) and an icy day (18 degrees with the wind chill) made passing difficult, as Lions quarterback Bob Gagliano could attest. He threw for just 125 yards on 25 attempts with one interception and no touchdowns. He was sacked three times -- 1 1/2 times by Lawrence Taylor, who got his first full sack since Week 2. Last year's Heisman Trophy winner, Andre Ware, replaced Gagliano and didn't fare much better.
The Giants simply ran Anderson right, Anderson left, Anderson up the middle, and even outside. Then Simms threw an occasional strike to keep the defense honest, like the 33-yard touchdown to receiver Stephen Baker, who juked cornerback Chris Oldham on the right sideline so bad he had him turned around.
The Giants' second series was a drive 9:35 long that featured a brilliant run by Anderson. On third and one at the 47, he moved outside on a handoff and in the process broke four tackles for 15 yards, then had his facemask almost yanked off for an additional five. It helped set up a 24-yard field goal by Matt Bahr.
It didn't help that Detroit receivers were dropping passes, such as the one Richard Johnson muffed in the first quarter. He had slipped behind two defenders and had a clear path to the end zone.
But the Giants made no such mistakes. Not only did receiver Mark Ingram catch the ball, he broke a number of tackles for a 57-yard touchdown and a 17-0 lead. Bahr kicked a 49-yard field goal -- with the gusts at his back -- for the 20-0 advantage.
On offense the Lions were stymied, which should be expected against a defense ranked second in the NFL -- behind Miami -- and has allowed 110 points in 10 games. Running back Barry Sanders (11 carries for 69 yards) was effective on the draw plays but that was it. Using six and sometimes seven defensive backs on all but two plays, the Giants took the bang out of the run-and-shoot.
"They came out trying to nickel and dime us," said Giants free safety Myron Guyton. "But they don't have the patience to keep doing that."