Osi: Defensive line must do better

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Giants’ vaunted defensive line is underperforming when it comes to sacks -- and the players know it.

“At the end of the day, sacks is what everybody looks at, so we have to find a way to get more,” defensive end Osi Umenyiora said Thursday.

Last season, the Giants were tied for third in the NFL, with 48 sacks. Through 13 games this season, they have 31 -- tied for 12th in the league.

The Giants had just one sack in last week’s victory over the New Orleans Saints, and were shut out the week before in a loss to the Washington Redskins.

“It could have been better,” said Umenyiora, of the D-line’s performance against the Saints. “They do an outstanding job in the way they protect and the things that they’re able to do. I think we did OK. We won the game, which is the most important thing, but I think this week we’ll be better.”

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, however, came to his players’ defense Thursday.

“Our guys are very cooperative,” Fewell said. “It took a lot for them to do what I asked them to do last week. It wasn’t the most sack-friendly game (plan) for them, but it was the way we felt like we had to win that football game.”

When asked to be more specific about the plan, Fewell said, “I won’t reveal that. It’s a game-plan thing.”

Umenyiora used a baseball analogy when describing the situation regarding the D-line of late.

“It’s just like a guy who’s a slugger, and every single time, they’re throwing him balls,” Umenyiora said. “They’re trying to walk him. Then you ask him why he’s not hitting home runs? They’re trying to walk him. If they pitch him the ball, he’s gonna hit a home run.”

“We’re not getting pitches. It’s really that simple,” Umenyiora continued. “When we get the pitches, whenever we get ahead, whenever we get one-on-one blocks, we’re gonna take advantage of them. But we’re just not really seeing them right now.”

Umenyiora, who had the Giants’ lone sack against the Saints, now has 6 on the season. Jason Pierre-Paul leads the team with 6.5, while Justin Tuck has 3.

That trio combined for 30.5 sacks in the 2011 regular season.

The Giants’ defense does have fond memories when it comes to their next opponent, though. New York dominated the Atlanta Falcons in a wild-card playoff game at MetLife Stadium last January, shutting the Falcons’ offense out in a 24-2 win.

Those two teams meet again Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Dome, and Umenyiora thinks the D-line will get their cracks at Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

“We’ll have opportunities to get there,” Umenyiora said. “We just have to take advantage of them.”