Alim McNeill swallowed the Giants in a breakout game for the ages


Alim McNeill, how do you do?

The Lions' second-year nose tackle had a coming-out party for the ages in Sunday's win over the Giants, ripping through New York's offensive line unlike any player of his ilk this season, this decade, maybe this century. Hell, maybe ever.

When McNeill sacked Daniel Jones to end the Giants' opening drive, he was just getting started. Over the next four quarters, he couldn't be stopped. He swallowed every play that came his way, and even some that didn't. He was a 330-pound problem, the engine of Detroit's best defensive performance of the season.

"Big Mac, man," said Dan Campbell with a shake of the head. "Look, here’s the thing, there’s so many things that Mac does that can go unnoticed at times."

On Sunday he was impossible to miss. On top of doing his usual dirty work in the trenches to help shut down Saquon Barkley and the Giants' vaunted ground game, McNeill shined as a pass rusher from start to finish. He posted a whopping 10 QB pressures, matching his total from last season, doubling his total this season and setting an NFL high in Week 11.

Did we mention he's a 330-pound nose tackle? Did we tell you this is basically unheard of?

In Week 10, according to Pro Football Focus, the Giants' Dexter Lawrence set a record for most single-game pressures (9) by a player over 320 pounds in the PFF era, which dates back to 2006. One week later, McNeill broke it.

McNeill's dominance on Sunday is hard to overstate. You might not find a better game by a defensive tackle all season. In addition to his pass rushing stats, which included seven QB hits, he made four run stops, defined by PFF as any tackle that constitutes a failure for the offense. The Giants held Barkley to a season-low 22 yards on 15 carries, and Campbell said McNeill was "one of the biggest reasons" why.

"But for him to be able to make the TFL's today and affect the quarterback like he did, that was great to see. We know what Mac’s capable of, but he just did it in a different way today, he helped us win in a different way," said Campbell. "He’s been there, but that was good to see."

This was McNeill's breakout game, in what can still be his breakout season. The Lions have always envisioned him as more than a run-stopper. They think he can be a game-wrecker. They drafted him in the third round last year to be a down-to-down force in the middle of the defensive line, their own version of Lawrence who anchors the Giants' defense.

If Sunday was a sign of things to come, Big Mac is just getting started, indeed.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Jamie Squire / Staff