Osi returns with a pair of sacks

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As Osi Umenyiora entertained a group of reporters following Sunday's 31-14 win over Dallas, teammate Justin Tuck let the locker room know how he felt about his teammate's return.

"Yeah, Osi's back," Tuck said loudly, eliciting a laugh from his teammate.

Yes, Umenyiora certainly was back on Sunday night. The defensive end recorded two sacks in his return to help the Giants win the NFC East title. He had missed the last four games with a sprained ankle.

"It feels awesome," Umenyiora said of winning the NFC East. "I was just happy we pulled this off. It was a big win for this organization, we needed it and I was happy I was able to contribute."

The defensive end had missed the previous four games after spraining his ankle in a loss to New Orleans on Nov. 28. He finally practiced this week and helped the Giants wreck havoc on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.

On the Cowboys' third possession of the game, he took advantage of a stunt to get a clean shot on Romo and sack him to force a punt. He later sacked Romo in the fourth quarter with Dallas on the Giants' side of the field.

The defensive end said after the game that his ankle hurt a little bit but he did not want to leave the field. He said he hopes to be healthier when the Giants host the Falcons next Sunday.

"It hurt a little bit but I wasn't going to come out of the game," Umenyiora said. "They were going to have to kill me before I came out that one."

With Umenyiora back in the mix, the Giants' pass rush showed why it can be one of the best in the league when it has its full complement of players. Umenyiora's two sacks were part of a collective effort of six, which matched the team's season-high total.

His teammates talked positively about the effect Umenyiora had on the pass rush. He finished his season with nine sacks, the second-most on the Giants, despite just playing in nine games.

"We have some good pass rushers. But Osi, he's a game-changer," Tuck said. "He takes a lot of pressure off myself, the whole D-line, the whole defense, knowing that any play he can make one of those game-changing plays. He showed tonight why he's done it for so many years. Even when he's not 100 percent he comes in and it still works like clockwork."

With the postseason on the horizon, Umenyiora sounded optimistic about the team's chances. If he can continue to rush the passer like he did Sunday night, that will only help the Giants make some noise.

"We have great football players here, great defensive lineman, good D-tackles and good D-ends," Umenyiora said. "As long as we're able to keep the situation in our favor I think we'll be able to get after any quarterback."