No more excuses for Giants' D-line

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The frustration has been building for weeks.

The New York Giants' defensive ends have garnered the kind of attention they'd rather not have from opposing offenses, and the formidable NASCAR package has been stuck in neutral as a result.

Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka have been trying to get to the quarterback every week, and know time is running out to get the pass rush going.

That's why Tuck says it's time to shut everything out and just find a way to overcome whatever is in front of them and get to Baltimore's Joe Flacco on Sunday. No more excuses.

"I haven't had a good year," said Tuck, who has been battling a shoulder injury. "JPP ... Kiwi, Osi, none of us have had good years. But maybe we're giving O-lines and offensive coordinators too much credit.

"We just need to stop worrying about what people write and say about our pass rush and just get back to beating people up front," Tuck continued. "I think you start listening to what people are saying about, 'You're not getting sacks and not doing this,' you start trying to look for answers instead of focusing on the answer -- which is you beating the guy in front of you."

Tom Coughlin's defense can desperately use a vintage performance from its pass rush in a must-win game at Baltimore on Sunday. The Giants need to win their remaining two games to get into the playoffs and the pass rush has long been a major ingredient in the team's formula for success.

Last year, the Giants collected 48 sacks, tied for the second most in the NFL. But this season, the Giants have a total of 32 sacks with two games remaining.

Pierre-Paul, Tuck, Umenyiora and Kiwanuka -- the foursome that makes up the NASCAR package in which the Giants rush four defensive ends on passing situations -- have combined for just 18 of them.

Pierre-Paul had 16.5 sacks by himself last year and was an unstoppable force. But this season, he has 10 fewer.

The Giants can certainly use a Dallas-type performance -- you know, the eight-tackle, two-sack, safety, forced fumble, blocked field goal type of game -- from Pierre-Paul sometime in these final two weeks.

"I am going to need to step up big-time this week," Pierre-Paul said. "I have to. It should be like that every week but I think I have to give a little more extra [than] for the past 14 weeks."

The Giants' pass-rushers have been trying to explain for the past several weeks what offenses are doing to neutralize them, and have sounded exasperated in their effort.

"I think they are frustrated mentally because of how [opponents] have taken their approach against them," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "It weighs heavily on them because they are a very proud, productive unit."

Fewell says he hasn't seen the ball come out of the quarterback's hand as fast as it has this season in some time.

Quarterbacks are not only getting rid of the ball but they are taking shorter drops while offenses are hitting the Giants ends with multiple bodies.

"People have publicized our sacks so much that people have taken a different approach to how they pass protect," Fewell said. "[The Falcons] came out and were in an empty formation and [Tony] Gonzalez chipped the end and the tackle hit the end and then it seemed like [Gonzalez] was going to stay in and help and then he released late and the back did the same thing."

Fewell and the Giants say their top priority on Sunday is to stop Ray Rice and the running game. After allowing an average of 138 yards rushing to opponents over the past six games, the Giants believe stopping the run will help ignite the pass rush.

Tackling is a major priority after the Giants said they missed 18 during the Falcons' 34-0 rout Sunday.

"They've been doing the same thing to JPP as they've been doing to me and doing to Tuck," Umenyiora said.
"They haven't been paying any special attention to one person so please don't get that confused.

"That's why if we stop the run early and put them in long-distance situations and one guy is really coming on strong, that takes the focus off of [somebody else] to be in a one-on-one situation."

But more than anything, the Giants' vaunted pass-rushers understand that they are just going to have to find a way to win their battles and come through with game-changing plays.

"I do believe they are a proud unit," Fewell said. "And they will have success in the next couple of weeks and I think you will see their numbers go up."

If not, the Giants might not make the playoffs. And that could mean changes to a pass rush that has had a lot of success.

"If we can't do it they're going to bring in people who can," Umenyiora said earlier in the week on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York 98.7.

Both Umenyiora and Tuck quoted Janet Jackson's old hit, "What Have You Done for Me Lately?"

It's time for them to do something before it's too late.

"What have you done for me lately?" Tuck asked. "Lately we haven't done much of anything as far as getting after the quarterback.

"And if you look at this football team, the success we've had, when the team's winning, the D-line's winning."