Antrel Rolle: No 'pedestal' for Packers
The New York Giants safety respects the defending Super Bowl champs but made it clear he does not fear them. And like teammate Jason Pierre-Paul, Rolle expects the Giants to leave Lambeau Field with a victory and be on their way to the NFC Championship Game.
"I don't put any opponents on a pedestal," Rolle said. "I understand that they have a lot of weapons and I understand that they are an awesome opponent. But then again, so are we."
"We are coming in here expecting to win this game," the safety added. "That is going to be our mindset and that is going to stay our mindset. We are not going to let anyone tear that away from us."
After hammering the Falcons 24-2 on Sunday, Pierre-Paul said the Giants will beat Green Bay. He reiterated his confidence in the Giants' chances on Wednesday.
"I think we are going to go [out] and win," the defensive end said when asked about his "we gonna win" statement that he made after the game. "If special teams and defense and offense plays the way we played last Sunday, we should come out with a victory."
The Giants have lost two straight to the Packers and allowed Rodgers to throw for four touchdowns in each Green Bay win. But they feel their confidence has grown since their 38-35 loss to the Packers on Dec. 4.
Offensively, the Giants know they can score on Green Bay's defense. They were nearly able to match Rodgers offensively last time. The Giants are very confident that Eli Manning and their offense, with playmakers like Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, can score against the 32nd-ranked Packers defense.
"I think the deep balls are there," said tight end Travis Beckum, who had a 67-yard touchdown catch against Green Bay last month. "Obviously they have a couple of standout players on defense but we got to capitalize on what they give us. You look at their numbers -- they're not very good at all."
"I don't know if it's necessarily double moves," Beckum added. "You just see guys flat-out getting beat. I don't know if it's miscommunication in the secondary or what, but there's been several times that you've seen guys just run past them."
The Giants also feel they are a much different defense than the one Green Bay last saw, let alone the one that lost 45-17 in Green Bay last season.
During the loss to the Packers last month, linebacker Michael Boley returned from a hamstring injury but said he was only at about "70 percent" while playing a total of 50 snaps.
And the Giants did not have defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Add on a healthier Justin Tuck to a defense that appears to have put behind all the lapses and miscommunication issues that plagued Tom Coughlin's team earlier in the season and the Giants are confident they can provide Rodgers and the Packers with a stiffer defense.
"We got a lot of key pieces back," Boley added. "So I would say this is a very much different defense."
The Giants also have been studying film of Green Bay's 19-14 loss to Kansas City, the Packers' only defeat of the season.
The Chiefs held Rodgers to 17-for-35 passing for 235 yards and just one touchdown. They sacked Rodgers four times. The Giants have a total of 13 sacks in their last three wins.
"You can take a lot from that game," Boley said. "Kansas City stepped up and did a lot of things, they hit them in the mouth and made it a real physical game."
Rolle also repeated the word "physical" on Wednesday. It's a good bet the Giants will try to make this Sunday's game feel like hand-to-hand combat in order to slow down the Packers' offense.
"That was the first film I watched," Rolle said of the Kansas City win. "They attacked them defensively and they were very physical. I think they were more physical than Green Bay."
The mental part of the game will be big for the Giants, whose confidence seemingly grows with each day. They have been a brash bunch in the last month or so, more than willing to express full confidence in their abilities and exchange verbal jabs with any opponent who wants to talk smack, whether it be Dallas' DeMarcus Ware or the Jets' Rex Ryan and Darrelle Revis.
And they have backed up most of their talk since mid-December.
Pierre-Paul said none of his teammates have given him any grief about his guarantee. Several teammates have said they whole-heartedly back the defensive end.
"It came from the heart," Pierre-Paul said. "If we go out and play like we are supposed to play, like we did last Sunday, we are going to win. In the right mind, who is going to say their team is going to lose when somebody asks you that question?"
The Giants, though, know that words won't mean anything in Lambeau on Sunday afternoon.
"No one is going to give us a chance," Rolle said. "Which is fine. We can care less about what anyone else has to say. The game still has to be played. It doesn't matter who says what. It doesn't matter what I say. It matters what comes on the field on Sunday."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.
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