- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It didn’t surprise Osi Umenyiora that he and his fellow defensive lineman were mostly neutralized in the season-opening loss to Dallas. With the Cowboys using quick slants frequently in that contest, the Giants pass rush was almost helpless at times to pressure quarterback Tony Romo as they fell, 24-17.
“Anybody can neutralize us if they execute that game plan. It’s easy if you’re going to throw the ball in one second, nobody is going to get there. That’s just the way it is,” Umenyiora said. “We weren't surprised. It might have seemed that way on tape, but when we looked at it on tape we saw what they were doing and hopefully we will be able to counteract that this week.”
Sunday, the Giants will try to get more pressure from their defensive line when they head to Dallas for a pivotal NFC East battle. The Giants had just two sacks in that game, both by defensive lineman, and Romo was able to pick apart the secondary.
“I have no idea (if the Giants will get to Romo better). I don’t know what the game plan is going to be,” Umenyiora said. “If we have the opportunity to, I think we will.”
Umenyiora, who had one tackle against Dallas, credited the Cowboys for effectively using slants in their attack that night. While he and his fellow defensive ends saw double teams, he said it was Romo’s ability to release the ball quickly. Romo completed 22-of-29 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns that day, easily his best game of the season.
As the defensive backs have championed to use more press coverage this week, Umenyiora believes that is a tactic that would help the defensive ends more. Pressing would neutralize quick slants and lead to Romo having to hold the ball longer in the pocket.
“You have to. If you play off, then he’s able to just throw those quick slants. We’ll never get there,” Umenyiora said. “If you press them, that gives us that time to get that extra step and I think we’ll have a better chance of getting him.”
After a slow start to the year, the Giants pass rush has picked up in recent weeks. The defense had its breakout day against San Francisco, recording six sacks in its win two weeks ago. The Giants followed their performance with a three-sack effort against the Redskins' elusive quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Umenyiora has three sacks on the year and said he “hopes” the line is playing better now as the season approaches the halfway point. He believes the Giants are a better team than the one the Cowboys bested on opening night. They’ll get their chance to prove it Sunday.
“I don’t know if we’re a different team but I think we’re a better team,” Umenyiora said. “We’re coming together. I think all phases of the team are contributing better now than they were back then.”