In the first meeting with the Packers, Linval Joseph had a borderline historical night. His nine solo tackles were the seventh-most by a defensive tackle in a single NFL game, but the stat line would be forgotten in defeat.
Meanwhile, Chris Canty racked up six tackles of his own, and together, they helped clog the Packers' run game that totaled just 89 yards. Thirty-two of those, however, were from their leading rusher that night, Aaron Rodgers.
The quarterback has been known to post those kinds of numbers, rushing 60 times this season for 257 yards (4.3) and three touchdowns. Some game plans call for flushing the pocket while others try to contain the quarterback to make him beat you with his arm.
But Rodgers is a magician able to beat teams with both tools.
"He's kind of like Houdini out there a little bit," Canty said on Thursday. "He avoids pass rushes. He avoids that initial surge. He can get out of the pocket and make plays downfield with his wide receivers, or he can extend it. He can run the football with his legs. He's a tremendous runner in his own right. You just have to be very disciplined when you're rushing."
Throw in the veteran Rocky Bernard, and the middle of the Giants' defensive will be tasked with the laundry list of wrinkles that Rodgers presents.
Given the Giants' tradition on the line, defensive ends get the bulk of the attention, especially this season with the emergence of Jason Pierre-Paul and injuries to defensive captain Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. However, the interior of the line -- and its rotation -- has been one constant on a defense that was often being shuffled.
Giants players often talk about everyone "eating" on the defense. For defensive ends, that usually means sacks. But for defensive tackles, that primary source of food is stopping the run.
In back-to-back weeks, the Giants held the Cowboys to 49 yards on the ground followed by limiting Michael Turner, the No. 3 rusher in the NFL, to just 41 yards. So it's safe to say the defensive tackles have eaten plenty during the postseason push, but they have also gone for seconds in the sack department.
Canty had recorded a sack in three of the last four games of the regular season while Bernard took up the torch and recorded his first of the season against the Falcons.
"We're all on the same ship," Joseph said. "So we need everyone. But when a d-tackle gets a sack, it just makes everybody play faster. Everyone wants to get a sack."
Rodgers, despite being sacked only once in their first game, knows it could be a long game if the Giants get to him early.
"They are in their rush lanes getting after the passer and they are making plays," he said on a conference call with the New York media on Wednesday. "They are tackling well and they are doing everything really well. I have a lot of respect for that defense because they play hard, play well, they play within the whistle and they have respect for the game. It is going to be a tough challenge for us."
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