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Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Tuck: 'Playoffs have started for us'

By Mike Mazzeo

Justin Tuck sounded a whole lot like Rex Ryan did last week during a radio interview on Tuesday.

“The playoffs have started for us,” the dejected Giants defensive end said.
“We haven’t given ourselves any margin for error.”

Just three weeks ago, the Giants were 6-2 following an impressive road victory in New England. But they’ve been awful ever since.

Consecutive losses to San Francisco, Philadelphia and New Orleans have put Big Blue in a serious bind. And the schedule doesn’t get any easier.

The undefeated Packers loom on Sunday. Tuck conceded after Monday night’s 49-28 blowout that a potential second-half collapse has already crept into his mind.

“I’m already thinking about that,” Tuck said.

At the same time, the 29-year-old defensive captain realizes that all it takes is one win to turn everything around -- and ending Green Bay’s perfect season provides a perfect opportunity for that.

“One game can be the difference-maker in a season,” Tuck said. “So hopefully can establish something this week and shock the world.”

The Giants have been world-beaters before. Just ask the 2007 Patriots.

They went 18-1. Not 19-0.

Tuck claimed to be “embarrassed” by the team’s effort -- especially on defense -- against the Saints.

Drew Brees and Co. carved up the Giants for 577 yards -- the second-most in team history.

Big Blue’s D gave up 15 plays of 15 yards or more and eight plays of 20 yards or more.

Unacceptable.

Tuck was upset that the Saints ran Mark Ingram outside for a 35-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter with the game already well out of hand.

“Was it a little low? Sure,” Tuck said.

Tuck felt as though coach Tom Coughlin was taking too much blame for the blowout down on the Bayou.

“I’m not gonna agree with him,” Tuck said. “We put him in a position to make [a lot of those calls.] I wouldn’t dare blame him for making the calls that he made.”

Tuck has been his own worst critic as well. Following the 49ers’ loss, he said he “sucked.”

On Tuesday, he called his current injury-plagued season a “humbling” experience.

In his last four games, Tuck hasn’t recorded a sack. But he’s not the only Giants’ pass rusher and the “vaunted” unit who has struggled.

In their last four games, the Giants have recorded just five sacks -- including one in their last two and none on Monday night. The last time the Giants’ defense failed to record a sack as Nov. 14, 2010 against Dallas.

Remember, they had five alone in the Miami victory.

Here’s a look at just how unproductive they’ve been of late:

Justin Tuck: last four games, no sacks; last six games, 1/2 sack

Osi Umenyiora: last four games, one sack; first four games, six sacks

Jason Pierre-Paul: last three games, one sack (did have six tackles Monday); first eight games, 9 1/2 sacks

Dave Tollefson: last seven games, no sacks; first four games, three sacks

Mathias Kiwanuka: last four games, no sacks; previous three games, 3 1/2 sacks

Chris Canty: last 10 games, no sacks

Linval Joseph: last four games, one sack; first seven games; one sack

The Giants, once the league’s best team in terms of sacks, has dropped to sixth with 31.

“I think [the Saints] did a good job of chipping ends and muddling things inside,” Tuck said. “Drew Brees knows where he’s going with the football before he snaps it. He gets it out of his hands really quickly. That scheme doesn’t allow you to get a lot of pressure on him. It’s tough to come by.”

The Giants hit Brees six times. Tuck even had a chance to bring him down.

He didn’t.

“It’s frustrating,” Tuck said.

The Giants aren’t going to beat the Packers if they don’t sack Aaron Rodgers.

Not gonna happen.

It’s certainly a scary matchup for Giants fans.

“For the players too,” Tuck said.

“We’re a mediocre football team right now,” he added.