- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

Michael Strahan has taken to calling himself Superman. And the way the New York Giants' defensive end has been rushing passers lately, opposing blockers probably feel as if a bullet has sped by them while quarterbacks act as if they've been overpowered by a locomotive.
Strahan leads the NFL with 101/2 sacks, all in the last four games. That's more than 11 teams have this season and have given the 6-foot-5, 275-pounder plenty of opportunity to flex his muscles in celebration.
"Strahan's playing like a man possessed," said Washington coach Marty Schottenheimer, whose 1-5 Redskins play host to Strahan and the 3-3 Giants Sunday.
Said fifth-year Giants coach Jim Fassel: "Last year was Michael's best with me because of what he meant to this team. He was a big part of why we went to the Super Bowl. Michael has a tremendous attitude. He encourages guys. He plays hard. He's a great practice player. He sets the tone. The players follow him. And he's backing it up with his performance. He has taken his game to a different level."
And this is no mere four-game tear. Strahan has 181/2 sacks in his previous 11 games including New York's three postseason games last year. And Strahan's 541/2 sacks dating to 1997 are the NFL's most. But the nine-year veteran said he's not having his best season.
"I have definitely played better," said the 29-year-old Strahan, who can break Mark Gastineau's 17-year-old NFL record with 12 sacks in New York's final 10 games. "It's just that now the quarterback is going down and I'm getting the sacks, so everybody seems to recognize it a little bit more.
"I felt much better about the way I was playing last year than I do now. I seemed to make more plays, strange as it may seem. Maybe later in the season, I'll get on a roll and feel better about everything. That's always how it used to be. Anything I can get early on is just a plus. I don't go into a game thinking, 'I need to get two or three sacks this week.' It seems to work for me when I just let it happen."
If any blocker wields kryptonite against Superman with No. 92 on his chest, it's Washington right tackle Jon Jansen. Fassel said no offensive lineman has done a better job of neutralizing his 1997-1999 Pro Bowl pass rusher. Strahan went sackless in four games against Jansen in 1999 and 2000 before coming up with 11/2 sacks against the Redskins in New York's 23-9 victory Oct. 7 at Giants Stadium. The solo takedown came on a first-half stunt against since-benched guard Matt Campbell. Strahan and tackle Cornelius Griffin shared a sack on the meaningless final drive, but with that Strahan did finally get Jansen.
"Strahan is a great player," Jansen said. "He's one of those guys who can turn it on at any time. But I've always had my best games against him. Sometimes there are guys who you just tend to do well against. There are few matchups where you know this is going to be one that people are going to look at: how Jansen does against Strahan. If I want to get to the Pro Bowl, I've got to beat the best guys, and right now he's the best. He has so many things going for him. He's very comfortable with their system. He knows where his help is. [New York's front four is improved with Griffin and Kenny Holmes replacing 2000 starters Christian Peter and Cedric Jones.] He's allowed to do what he wants."
Physically and verbally. The ever-grinning, gap-toothed Strahan is such a yapper that ABC miked him for Monday's game against Philadelphia as part of its focus on the supposedly bitter battle between him and Eagles tackle Jon Runyan.
"I don't have a feud with Jon Runyan, and I don't have a feud with Jon Jansen," Strahan said. "It seems like every week I'm feuding with somebody. If that's the case, I'm the most hated defensive end in football. Every week I read that Strahan and this guy have a feud. That's starting to wear me down a little bit. I like these guys. When we're on the field, we have a good time. We joke around and smile at each other. Maybe for the entertainment factor everyone likes to think we don't like each other.
"Jansen doesn't talk. He just plays hard. He's a good player. He's one of the guys that challenges me. I like playing against him. He's a technician. He's strong. He has a lot of pride in what he does. That goes a long way. [But] if I get five sacks this game, I don't care if it's against Tony the Tiger."

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