When the Giants have made playoff runs in recent years, they’ve always been able to count on their pass rush, the kind opponents feared.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he respected the Giants pass rush, but said he “wouldn’t use that word.”
“He shouldn’t,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. “Not at all. There’s been years here it should have been feared. But this year, we haven’t had that year.”
The Giants have 32 sacks at the moment. Not awful (16th in the league), but hardly dynamic (they had 48 last year). The trio of Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul have combined for just 15.5 sacks — or 15 fewer than last year.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said he thinks there are several reasons the number is down, from teams paying extra attention to the edge rushers to opponents game-planning toward quick passes to give them fewer opportunities.
“I do believe this about them,” Fewell said. “They’re a proud unit. I think they will have success in the next couple of weeks. And I think you’ll see their numbers go up. . . .
“I think they’re frustrated a little bit mentally because of how [opponents] are taking their approach against them. I think it weighs heavily on them because they are a very proud defensive unit.”
It should weigh on them. Their ability to disrupt the passer has been central to their Super Bowl runs, and they’ve invested heavily in the position. So more is going to be expected of them now.