Giants boast best DE tandem in the league

After yet another stellar outing, Osi Umenyiora was asked who, if anyone, was playing better than himself and his D-end mate Michael Strahan. "Nobody's playing better," Umenyiora stated. "We're going to keep on doing this thing. I don't feel like we can be stopped." They sure didn't look that way against the Cowboys when the dangerous DE duo combined for 11 tackles, three sacks and a pass break-up.

"This is something we knew we could do," Umenyiora continued. "At the beginning of the year, everyone was telling us that we were going to have two of the best ends in the nation. Stray's been doing it for 13 years. I'm just coming along now, I'm just starting."

Nick Greisen agrees that New York's DE duo is tops.

"Not at all (are there any better)," he said. "Those guys are just beasts. You can't say enough about them. They're doing so much for our team. They're both unbelievable players."

Former Giant Dan Campbell had the unenviable task of trying to block Strahan and Umenyiora during New York's huge victory.

"Strahan's in his 13th season and the guy's been in his prime for eight years now," Campbell told TGI. "Now he has someone on the other side that has some skills. He has a lot of speed and quickness. Those guys are just having a great year."

No less an authority than should-be-Hall-of-Famer Harry Carson was at the game and admitted that he's been very impressed with what he's seen out of numbers 72 and 92.

"They're playing outstanding ball," Carson told TGI. "It's been a long time since Michael's had some speed help on the defensive line. Osi is getting the opportunity to show what he can do. The onus is no longer just on Michael. I think a lot of teams are going to see that Osi is a force to be reckoned with, and they're going to have to account for him. By doing that, it's going to continue to open things up for Michael on the other side.

"To have these two guys on the field at the same time is something special."

It sure was special against Dallas, when Strahan's two sacks gave him 9.5 on the season. With 127.5 career QB bags, Strahan, who has 15 career sacks against Dallas, moved past former Chiefs great Derrick Thomas into 10th place on the NFL's all-time list. Strahan needs five sacks to tie Hall-of-Famer Lawrence Taylor for the Giants team record.

"He got two of them today, he's going to end up with like 15 or 16, maybe even more than that," Umenyiora said. "The thing about Michael is he was getting pressure every week and he kept getting pressure. That was happening to me earlier in the year. I was getting pressure but I wasn't getting sacks. If you get pressure, sooner or later, they're going to turn into sacks."

Umenyiora recorded his 11th sack of the season, a six-yarder of Drew Bledsoe in the first quarter. That is the highest total by a Giant other than Strahan since Chad Bratzke had 11 sacks in 1998.

Veteran Bob Whitfield hones his skills every day in practice facing off with Strahan and Umenyiora.

"They're probably the best tandem in the league," he stated. "They probably are. They work so hard, are so fast and always come with so much power and strength. What are you going to do, double-team both sides?"

Whitfield said their mental abilities are as important as their physical prowess.

"I like the way they set their moves up on the tackles," he said. "You can see that the tackles have no idea what's coming."

In addition to Strahan and Umenyiora, New York's other defensive star against the Cowboys was Antonio Pierce, who had seven tackles and scored the game-winning TD on a fumble return. He too loves what he's seen of New York's devastating DEs.

"They're playing the best ball," he said. "They're really wreaking havoc. It's fun because they free me up."

Just as Umenyiora's emergence has freed up Strahan, who's been battling double- and triple-teams for close to a decade now.

"Osi is a great player," Strahan said. "He's just had to let the mental part catch up with the physical and this year he's having an incredible year. He's very hard to stop. I think as a defensive lineman and for myself, it's great to have somebody like Osi, who other teams have to look for. You just can't line up one way and say, ‘He's worried about this guy and the rest of them you can handle one-on-one.' Now with the way he's playing and the way the guys inside are playing, you have your hands full."

Strahan has seen Umenyiora's progression up close and personal.

"Osi's always been fast," he said. "But now Osi will be as physical as he needs to be. Now he has a plan. He knows how to set up a blocker. He's going to have a great career."

"There's not too many guys that can block him one-on-one," Pierce added.

Umenyiora has the utmost faith in New York's defense, and you could hardly blame him.

"We're an outstanding defense," he said. "We always kept faith and knew that once it came to crunch time that we could stop anybody, that we could beat anybody on defense."

* * *

Boy is it ever refreshing when an athlete so clearly and obviously speaks the truth – whether arrogantly, modestly, positively or negatively.

That's exactly what Tiki Barber did after the big win over Dallas. Barber, as usual, gave the Giants his all and piled up 115 yards on 30 carries, the second-biggest workload of his Giants career.

"I know it sounds really cocky, but I know I'm good," Barber said. "And I know in critical situations they can rely on me."

It's no surprise at all that Tiki's the one we rely on for refreshing honesty.


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