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Don't Wake A Sleeping Giant

Posted Dec 21, 2012

New York has plenty of pass rushers, but just two sacks in its past three games.


There’s no hiding where the New York Giants’ defensive strength lies.

“Our front is our bread and butter,” Head Coach Tom Coughlin said.

It’s in guys named Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka. As Coughlin added, when those players are pouncing on opposing quarterbacks, “other things seem to fall in order.”

Oddly, the Giants’ collection of feared pass rushers has been relatively quiet recently. New York has just two sacks in its last three games. The aforementioned trio has just one.

Thus, the Ravens’ goal this week is to not wake a sleeping Giant.

Baltimore has allowed 34 sacks this season, with ranks as the 12th most in the league. The Ravens have allowed eight in the past three games, including three fumbles by quarterback Joe Flacco.

Whichever team can rebound best will give their team a big advantage Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

“They’ve got a lot of pass-rush specialists,” right tackle Kelechi Osemele said. “They’ve just got a lot of talent, a lot of natural ability. They’re guys with long arms, tall guys that can rush the passer.”

The Giants don’t blitz a lot up front. Osemele said they bring extra rushers only about a quarter of the time, which is the lowest percentage the Ravens offensive line will see this season.

Instead, New York relies on talent up front to get the job done, allowing the defense to drop more players in coverage.

One would think that would create one-on-one battles in the trenches, but it’s usually more like one-on-two.

Coughlin said the trend in defending against the Giants’ pass rush this year has been to max protect and take shots deep down the field. Opponents have doubled up New York’s edge rushers or chipped them at the line of scrimmage to allow more time for the quarterback.

The Giants rank 28th in the league in pass defense, allowing an average of 253.7 yards per game.

“It’s been effective,” Coughlin admitted of the strategy of having extra blockers.

“If you weren’t a good pass-rush team, you wouldn’t have people staying up at night trying to figure out how to keep you from getting on the quarterback. Yet it has been an issue that we’ve dealt with all year long, but haven’t really found a way, consistently, where we get pressure on the quarterback.”

Pierre-Paul was one of the best defenders in the league last year with 16.5 sacks. He has only 6.5 this season. Umenyiora is also below his usual pace with only six sacks and Tuck has notched just three.

They can still bite at any time, however. And Osemele is keenly aware of that.

“They wait for you to make a mistake,” the second-round rookie said. “We just have to protect and be consistent.”

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