Giants defensive line slumping as 49ers loom
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants' defensive line is in a slump.
The sacks and quarterback hits that marked the line's performance in the run to the Super Bowl last season have become few and far between.
For the season, the group that features All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and two-time Pro Bowl ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora has been limited to eight sacks and 14 overall quarterback hits in five games.
That's less than two sacks a game and less than three hits. The goal for the team is a combined 10 — a game.
It's no surprise that the Giants (3-2) and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell have had to answer a lot of questions about the rush heading into Sunday's showdown with the 49ers (4-1) in San Francisco.
"What I am tired of, is you all asking about it," Tuck said of the lack of sacks and quarterback hits. "Am I concerned? No!. As one of my great colleagues just told me, it's a waste of time to sit here and answer about it. We just have to go out there and play better. That will be the end of it."
This has been a hard time for the line, which carried the defense to five straight wins last season.
Pierre-Paul, Umenyiora and Tuck hounded opposing quarterbacks down the stretch and it was uncommon to see an opposing signal-caller not pick himself up off the grass or turf a least a few times a half. Umenyiora leads the trio with two sacks. Pierre-Paul has 1½ and Tuck has none.
In their 41-27 decision over winless Cleveland this past weekend, Browns quarterback Weeden wasn't sacked and hit only two times on 35 passing attempts. That's not good for any defense, particularly one that prides itself on its pass rush.
"The way the offenses are attacking us right now, sometimes that limits their opportunities," Fewell said Thursday. "The ball does come out pretty quick on us. The way people are playing us, it doesn't matter. We give them a number of opportunities to do what they do best. Obviously, yes, we have to figure out and make the game more one dimensional. If we do a better job in the run game, we can help them by letting them do what they do best."
Defensive players say opponents are using a number of tactics to limit the pass rush. They sometimes use two tight ends, have one of their running backs chip the Giants ends, run shorter pass patterns and many times, use plays in which the quarterback only uses a three-step drop and releases the ball.
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