, Salem, MA


January 29, 2012

Giants' pass rush may be key to beating Patriots

FOXBOROUGH — A circle has no end.

A book has one end.

A line has two ends -- unless, that is, it's the New York Giants' defensive line, which has four ends, each of whom has the ability to take down Tom Brady.

In something of a nose-thumbing to football tradition, not to mention the laws of physics, the Giants have built their defense around four pass-rushing defensive ends that sometimes might be on the field all at the same time.

The Giants tied for third in the NFL with 48 sacks last season, led by the prolific Jason Pierre-Paul and his 16.5 takedowns of opposing quarterbacks.

In three postseason games, Osi Umenyiora has a team-best 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. A change from a linebacker-focused 3-4 defense to a defensive line-focused 4-3 defense has allowed Pierre-Paul, Umenyiora and their cohorts to attack the backfield relentlessly off the edge.

Suffice to say, the means by which the Giants beat Brady and the Patriots four years ago could well be the means by which they may beat Brady and the Patriots a week from Sunday in the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

"They can rush the passer; there's no doubt about that," said Brady, who was sacked twice and fumbled when the Patriots and Giants met at Gillette Stadium in early November.

"From playing them before, you understand that. They strip-sacked us on our own 10-yard line when we played them last. They get a lot of turnovers. They put a lot of pressure on you with their front four. They have a big, physical group that plays really well together."

In the NFC title game against San Francisco, the Giants sacked 49ers quarterback Alex Smith three times and hurried him six other times.

In an upset of Green Bay the week before that, the Giants sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times and hurried him five times.

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