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Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Patchwork O-line may be permanent

By By Ian Begley

The Giants were forced to shuffle their offensive line shortly before kickoff on Sunday.

So Kevin Boothe shifted from left guard to center and backup Mitch Petrus slid to guard.

At the time, it was seen as a stop-gap measure.

Turns out, it could be the Giants' line for the rest of the season.

With center David Bass' return uncertain at this point and Will Beatty out of the season, the Giants may be forced to go with Boothe at center, Petrus at guard and David Diehl at left tackle for the rest of the way.

And, if that's the case, Diehl believes the Giants are in good hands.

"With those guys in there, there wasn’t a dropoff," Diehl said of Boothe and Petrus, who made his first career start against the Packers.

The numbers support Diehl's sentiment.

The Giants ran for 100 yards on 20 carries Sunday. That was the first time they'd topped the 100-yard mark since Week 9.

They also allowed just three hits on Eli Manning, though one forced a costly fumble.

But, by and large, the group got the job done.

"This entire season, guys have been accountable," Diehl said. "Guys go down, somebody steps in and steps right up for us."

The line faces a tough task on Sunday night; Dallas ranks second in the NFL with 35 sacks.

DeMarcus Ware, who missed practice but expects to play Sunday, leads the NFL with 15. Anthony Spencer has six.

Diehl is familiar with Ware from previous NFC East battles.

"We compete, we fight, we punch each other, we do a bunch of stuff," Diehl said of Ware. "... After the game you sit there and say great game. But when you are out there, there is no love."

There's never any love between Dallas and the Giants, particularly this season.

The two rivals face off twice in the next month. The Giants currently trail Dallas by a game in the NFC East standings. The division title is still within reach, even though Big Blue has lost four straight.

So for the offensive line, and everyone else on the Giants' roster, Sunday night's game at Cowboy Stadium is as close to a must-win as it gets.

"Our playoffs start now," Chris Snee said. "That’s how you have to look at it. We know what’s at stake.... If we take care of our own business, hopefully we’ll be playing in January."

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