Tuck: Giants Go As Their Defensive Line Goes

Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning will take center stage in Sunday's divisional playoff game, but the overwhelming big matchup is the Giants' defensive line against the Packers' offensive line. Justin Tuck talked about that matchup during a conference call.

In a game featuring Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks, Sunday's playoff game between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers figures to be determined by the Packers' offensive line's matchup against the Giants' defensive line.

The Giants tied for third in the NFL with 48 sacks and added two more in last week's wild-card destruction of Atlanta. Of those 50 sacks, 43.5 came from the defensive line.

"Those guys are relentless in getting to the passer," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.

In a nutshell, if the Giants' front four can consistently harass Rodgers, they'll have an excellent chance of handing the Packers a home playoff loss for the second time in four years.

"Absolutely," agreed the Giants' Justin Tuck during a conference call with Packers beat reporters on Wednesday. "We've always prided ourselves on if you take away the seven guys behind us, we can still hold our own with just us four guys out there. It's a mentality that's been around here for a long time. We know what we're capable of doing. It's all about going out and doing it. Make no mistake about it, this Giants football team goes as their D-line goes and as our quarterback, Eli (Manning), goes. Those two positions have a lot to do with the success we've had around here."

There are plenty of comparisons being thrown around between the 2007 Giants, who stunned the Packers 23-20 at frigid Lambeau Field to win the NFC Championship, and this year's edition. While things like the Giants losing to the undefeated Patriots 38-35 in 2007 and the undefeated Packers 38-35 in 2011 are interesting, the big thing is the personnel.

In 2007, New York led the NFL with 53 sacks, with linemen Osi Umenyiora (13.0), Tuck (10.0) and Michael Strahan (9.0) combining for 32. Umenyiora and Tuck are still on the team, with Jason Pierre-Paul filling Strahan's shoes. Combined, they tallied 30.5 sacks, led by Pierre-Paul's 16.5, with Umenyiora adding 9.0 and Tuck 5.0 in 12 games.

"Actually, I think we've got more pass rushers, more people to do it," Tuck said, and he's not too far off, with linemen Dave Tollefson (5.0) and Chris Canty (4.0) and linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka (3.5) giving the Giants six players with at least 3.5 sacks, just like 2007. "Honestly, we haven't reached the peak that we were at in '07. We're rushing pretty good right now, but in ‘07, it just seemed like we took over ballgames. I don't think we've necessarily don't that as of now but hopefully it can start this Sunday."

The Giants have been rushing better than "pretty good." During a three-game winning streak in which they've allowed 28 points, the Giants have collected 13 sacks. On Dec. 4, Rodgers was sacked twice, hit on five other occasions and pressured an additional 12 times, according to ProFootballFocus.com's game review.

Relayed Tuck's comment about the Giants going as their defensive line goes, Packers left guard T.J. Lang said: "It's going to be a big game for us. With the talent they have, with the pass rushers they have over there, they're a very tough group to go against. They're definitely the strength of their defense. The way they can disrupt the passer makes it a lot easier for the defense if they're getting to the quarterback play after play. We understand it's our job to keep Aaron clean. If we do that, he can sit back there and make a lot of big plays. That's our No. 1 goal: making sure their pass rush is not a factor."

Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

The Giants Beat Top Stories