NFL’s worst defense has to find a way to slow down Tom Brady
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) If there is a mismatch in the NFL this week, it's the New York Giants defense against Tom Brady and the undefeated New England Patriots.
It's the well-oiled offensive machine against a banged-up defense that is ranked 32nd overall.
How bad can it get? Less than two weeks ago, Drew Brees threw for 505 yards and seven touchdowns – both league highs this season – in New Orleans' 52-49 win over New York.
Now it's Brady's turn. He comes into the game leading the league in touchdown passes (22), interceptions (2) and quarterback rating (113.5).
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was ready when asked why wouldn't Brady match Brees' numbers.
''I wasn't there,'' said Pierre-Paul, who played this past weekend for the first time since losing a finger in a July 4 fireworks accident.
Pierre-Paul gives the Giants the hope of a pass rush, but no guarantee against a quarterback who gets rid of the ball as fast as anyone.
''It's a big challenge,'' Pierre-Paul said. ''He's a great quarterback, pretty soon he'll be in the Hall of Fame when he retires or whatever, but it's going to be a big challenge and we're up for a challenge.''
The Giants beat Brady twice in Super Bowls, but that was when their defensive line included Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and a very young Pierre-Paul the second time.
The current line has nine sacks in nine games. That's not the way New York beat Brady in the Super Bowls. They pounded him in those games.
''We have pass rushers, but we have to work together and that's what we're doing now,'' Pierre-Paul said.
Veteran defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins said the defense needs to play its best game of the season. It has to be consistent, not blow any assignments and be confident.
With Brady's quick release, there probably won't be many chances for sacks.
''There are still ways to help,'' said Jenkins, who will play at tackle with Johnathan Hankins (pectoral) on injured reserve.
''You can try to get a little push so he can't follow through on his throws, or you can get your hands up and get a deflection, to help the back end or force a turnover. We just have to be smart.''
The Giants offense will share some of the responsibility for slowing down Brady. If it can control the ball, the Patriots offense will have it less.
''We've got to be smart with the ball, we can't afford turnovers, so we've got to be smart and hold on to it, but we have to convert third downs, we have to move the ball, and control the game clock a little bit,'' quarterback Eli Manning said. ''Hopefully we can manage that. It's going to come down to executing well and playing good football.''
The Patriots have scored at least one point in 31 consecutive quarters, which is tied for the longest streak in NFL history. The St. Louis Rams (1999-2000) and Indianapolis Colts (2005) share the record.
The Giants lead the league with a plus-12 turnover differential, including 13 interceptions.
''They do a lot of different things that create disruptive plays for their defense,'' Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. ''They take the ball away better than every team in the league. So the number one thing that you talk about each week is taking care of the ball, and this will be our greatest challenge to date because of how they do it.''
Pierre-Paul hopes that his game will improve this week. He had two quarterback hits against Tampa Bay and two tackles.
''My hand doesn't hurt, guys, so let me just get that out there,'' he said. ''It doesn't hurt, there's no pain, so I'm good.''
Pierre-Paul isn't worried about facing the Patriots or whether this is a statement game for the Giants.
''Any given day, you can be beat and any given day, you can win some,'' he said. ''It all happens on Sundays. It's a big game, everybody knows that, and we're going to play the best we can.''
NOTES: Starting left guard Justin Pugh is undergoing the concussion protocol and did not practice. He has had headaches since Sunday. … Cornerback Prince Amukamara (pectoral) practiced on a limited basis. He has not played since Oct. 11. …Tight end Larry Donnell (neck) hopes to play Sunday after missing last week. He did not practice Wednesday.
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- Cullen Jenkins
- Drew Brees
- Eli Manning
- Jason Pierre-Paul
- Johnathan Hankins
- Justin Pugh
- Justin Tuck
- Larry Donnell
- New England Patriots
- New York Giants
- Osi Umenyiora
- Prince Amukamara
- Tom Brady