- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck called out the Atlanta Falcons' offensive line ahead of the team's NFC wild-card playoff game, referring to what other opponents have deemed dirty play.
"We know they have that quote unquote reputation," Tuck said when asked on Monday about the reputation of Atlanta's offensive line. The Falcons have drawn criticism from opposing teams this season for supposedly playing dirty and playing beyond the whistle.
"But in a way it kind of is exciting. Most people, you would call them dirtbags," Tuck said. "But it is what it is. We got to make sure we do our job and if we are doing our job well, then they will be upset and they will be trying to do things to get us off our game and we got to take that as a compliment. But in the same sense you got to protect yourself and hopefully the referees have 20/20 vision this week."
Atlanta's offensive line came under fire twice in a span of three weeks early this season against a pair of NFC North opponents.
Following Atlanta's 25-14 home loss to the Packers on Oct. 9, several Packers players were not happy with Atlanta's play.
"Great teams don't indulge in the kind of cheap stuff the Falcons do," Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We're the (defending Super Bowl) champions and we play that way. We walk away from the stuff they pull. These guys are coached to play after the whistle.
"I don't know what the deal is. I think it's a lack of talent on their part. We didn't worry about any of that. We came out and played our game."
Just two weeks later, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said that it was karma that Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was injured in the Falcons' 23-16 win over Detroit. Suh was referencing what he saw as questionable play by the Falcons' offensive line in the past.
"There are many, many plays that I could go back to that I watch on film all week that their offensive line has done," Suh said, "and that they've been coached to do, as far as I know. It's not anything that's been said, it's not anything that's new."
Lions defensive end Cliff Avril told the Lions' team website that Atlanta's offensive linemen run 20 to 30 yards down the field and are trying to cut players.
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck is aware that the Atlanta Falcons' offensive line does not have a stellar reputation.