A solid player for more than a decade, first with Jets and then with Giants beginning in 2005 when he signed as free agent ... Steady, rarely commits penalties or makes errors ... Must watch for onrushing linebackers against Patriots.
LDE (91), 6-5, 268, 7th season, Notre Dame
Leader of defense, has fought through series of injuries and is playing his best ball now ... Can play anywhere on line in passing situations ... Missed four games this season, compromising his numbers, but has been very active in playoffs with nine tackles, 1 1-2 sacks, two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss ... Has 18 forced fumbles and six recoveries in career.
LDT (97), 6-4, 323, 2nd season, East Carolina
Second-round pick in 2010 who has been starter for most of career ... More of a force against the run, comes out on most passing downs ... Inconsistent, but has improved as season went along.
RDT (99), 6-7, 317, 7th season, Virginia
Brings veteran presence inside, also can rush passer ... Signed as free agent from Dallas in 2009, was fourth-round selection by Dallas in 2005 ... Blocks passes with long arms and reach, can also block kicks ... Has four sacks among his 47 tackles this season.
RDE (72), 6-3, 255, 9th season, Troy
Injuries limited him to nine games, defense has taken root since he returned for Jets game, and team hasn't lost since ... Was Giants' lone Pro Bowl rep in 2008, when they beat Patriots in Super Bowl, and is more-rounded player now ... Gets to QB (69 career sacks) and has forced 30 fumbles in career, recovering 13 ... Despite limited time on field, had nine sacks this season, has 31/2 in playoffs.
RDE (90), 6-5, 278, 2nd season, South Florida
Rising star on line, All-Pro who makes dynamic plays ... First-round pick, 15th overall in 2010, who is still raw, yet had 86 tackles, 161/2 sacks and two forced fumbles in 2011 ... Exceptionally quick burst off the line, will be the main defender Patriots must control ... Uses reach to block passes and kicks, clinched win over Dallas with blocked field goal.