EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Michael Vick has taken a pounding this season and the New York Giants' vaunted defensive line is hoping to wake up and add to his woes.
The line has been the focal point of the defense for years with All Pro Jason Pierre-Paul and two-time Pro Bowlers Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck leading an assault that led to a second Super Bowl in five seasons.
However, opponents have found ways to limit the line this season. Quarterbacks are releasing the ball faster, protections are being maximized with backs staying in to block and teams are using more screens and draws to slow down the line.
The statistics show it. Through three games, the defense has six sacks and eight quarterback hits. The goal is a 10 a game.
Vick has experienced that type of pressure this season. He has been sacked nine times, been hit another 28 times and thrown six interceptions. Still, Philadelphia (2-1) is tied for first place in the NFC East with the Giants and Dallas.
"I'm sitting here saying we're going to go get him, whatever formation they put on the field," Pierre-Paul said Friday. "We have one job to do as a (defense), two jobs. We have to stop the run and get to the passer by any means. This starts up front and we have to get after him."
Vick knows about tough games against the Giants. He broke his right hand in the first game against New York last season and missed the second one while nursing broken ribs.
"Hopefully my guys do well up front and take care of their defensive ends and the big guys on the inside of the defensive line," Vick said. "If I have to run, then I'll run. I'm just going to approach the game with an open mind. I feel good this week going into this game. My body feels good. I just look forward to playing a good one, against a good, tough defense."
Part of the problem for the Eagles has been injuries. Left tackle King Dunlap is going to miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury and Dallas Reynolds has taken over at center with Jason Kelce out for the year with a knee injury.
The Giants think the hits are a combination of things, not just the injuries.
"The games that I've watched, sometimes he leaves the pocket, and sometimes they have breakdowns here and there," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "When he leaves the pocket, people have been able to get some solid hits on him."
Umenyiora said team are blitzing the Eagles more with the Cardinals chalking up five sacks last weekend.
"They're not really getting beat with a lot of four-man rush, so I wouldn't say it's the offensive line's fault," Unemyiora said. "The tight ends, the running backs and maybe sometimes the quarterback is holding onto the ball longer than he's supposed to. I won't completely blame it on the offensive line."
Fewell refused to say whether the Giants would blitz more, although he admitted he likes to blitz. The problem with blitzing though is that it leaves the cornerbacks in single coverage on DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant and Jeremy Maclin.
If the blitzes also don't get to Vick, he has room to run.
"I saw some plays in that game where he still looked the same and he got out of the pocket and started running, but it's tough," Tuck said. "I think he's had some injuries on the o-Line and he's getting some clean shots on him and obviously that's going to take a toll on any player, not only him. I think he's still one of the most dangerous people on the football field."
It forces the linemen to be a little cautious going after the quarterback, and Pierre-Paul said sometimes the best thing they can do is get their hands up and block the pass.
Strategies aside, the Eagles have had the Giants' number, winning six of the last seven meetings.
"What I am hating is the wait at the hotel," Pierre-Paul said. "Otherwise, I am ready to play. The whole team is ready to play, especially the defense is ready to play."
Defensive tackle Linval Joseph was more succinct.
"Our job is to win the game," Joseph said. "Stop all the weapons they have. Stop Michael Vick, because he is the leader, and come out with a win."
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STAY TUNED FOR LIVE UPDATES THROUGH THE GAME:
09/30/2012 11:46 PM EDT
The Icing On The Cake
Michael Vick tells Michele Tafoya of NBC after the game: "I don't believe icing the kicker."
09/30/2012 11:43 PM EDT
@ MikePereira :
Wow!!!! Incredible last minute. Have to say the OPI all was the big call. To me, that was clearly OPI. Am I missing something?
09/30/2012 11:41 PM EDT
There was a bizarro ending befitting the replacement refs. There was a pass interference against the Eagles that seemed dubious then one against the Giants that knocked them out of field goal range. Second call was a two-way wrestling match that could potentially have gone either way. Backed up, Tynes doesn't have the leg on his second attempt (or the accuracy on the first).
That's a wrap.
09/30/2012 11:38 PM EDT
Tynes missed left on the first.. and short on the second.. WOW! Eagles win!
09/30/2012 11:37 PM EDT
But timeout called by Eagles. This might not work out..
09/30/2012 11:37 PM EDT
@ thesportsgeeks :
The refs in Philly are replacements disguised and normal refs. I'm convinced.
09/30/2012 11:36 PM EDT
An offensive pass interference by Barden as he wraps up Aso. It's now a 54-yard FG attempt at this spot.
09/30/2012 11:35 PM EDT
FYI: Cris Collinsworth would have not have called it.
09/30/2012 11:35 PM EDT
3rd and 10
Incomplete pass but another flag comes in. PI on Nmandi. It looks like the Eagles got hard done there. 1st down for Giants.
09/30/2012 11:34 PM EDT
On The Grass
Barden appeared to have a first down catch Aso jars it loose.