EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Not long after Justin Tuck was chosen as the New York Giants‘ defensive captain, a teammate bought a small plastic statue of the defensive end and put it in a meeting room.
It was a sign of respect for the veteran who has become the spokesman of the Giants (2-2), as well as a little joke among the defensive linemen.
“Homage,” one lineman quipped.
After dreadful losses to Indianapolis and Tennessee, and reports that coach Tom Coughlin was losing control of a seemingly undisciplined team, Tuck had had enough homage. A disgusted No. 91 walked into one of the defensive-line meetings last week, grabbed the statue and broke it in half.
Maybe it was frustration. Maybe it was anger. Whatever it was, the act sent a message to the rest of the unit: Pick it up.
“When he broke it, all the bad (stuff) before the game was gone,” said a lineman who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to talk about what happens in the group meetings. “I’m not going to say that was it, but what else could it have been.”
The 10 sacks were the third most in franchise history and two shy of the franchise and co-NFL record the Giants set in 2007 against Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles. It was also probably the line’s best game since dumping Tom Brady on his rear end five times in the Super Bowl upset of the Patriots in February 2008.
“It’s scary,” said Texans coach Gary Kubiak, whose team will face the Giants on Sunday in Houston. “What they did in that game hasn’t been done too many times in this league.”
Tuck didn’t argue with the suggestion that the line, which has been criticized repeatedly for falling to live up to expectations in recent years, was fed up and wanted to take it out on someone.
“But I have been in situations where we have been fed up and we came out and still got our butt whipped,” Tuck said Thursday. “I think it was just the perfect storm on Sunday night. There was a great atmosphere in the stadium and we just wanted to come out, and more than anything, play for the guys who played before us.”
The Giants inducted 30 men, including 22 players, into a new ring of honor at the New Meadowlands Stadium. The last time many of those men were at a game, the Giants laid an egg in being blown out by Carolina in their last game at Giants Stadium.
But the Bears' offense played into the Giants‘ hands this time. It’s a wide-open scheme that tends to put everyone out in the pattern and relies on the quarterback to find the open receiver and the line to keep him safe.
Taking a big drop consistently, Cutler never had the chance. When he was ready to throw, a lineman was bearing down on him.