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Giants must defend Saints' running game


Whenever a defense breathes a small sigh of relief seeing that the Saints are up next, you know the previous game didn't turn out well.

OK, the Giants aren't exactly giddy about it. But at least they know what they're up against this week and how to attack it, especially on the ground. The Giants are coming off a loss to Mike Shanahan's gadget-driven Redskins, who put up 207 rushing yards on Monday night and 455 in their two meetings this season.

Now the Giants prepare for a more traditional New Orleans offense, which is led by, but not entirely dependent on quarterback Drew Brees. Tom Coughlin was asked if facing a conventional scheme will lead to better results.

"Well, it depends on which weapon you want to talk about," Coughlin said. "Will it help us in that it's a style that we would be more inclined to defend or try to defend? But on the other hand they ran the ball on us last time too. So we're not just going to have to defend the pass."

Despite ranking 27th in rushing yards, the Saints have notched 140 yards or more on four occasions this season, including three in the last five weeks. Over that stretch, New Orleans is averaging 120 yards per game on the ground, nearly 30 more than its season average.

And the Saints do it by committee. Mark Ingram (98 carries, 352 yards) and Pierre Thomas (89, 425) lead the way, while Chris Ivory and Darren Sproles provide a change of pace.

"We have to defend them pounding the ball," defensive tackle Linval Joseph said. "They have three or four good running backs. They have Ingram, they have Ivory, they have Thomas. So we just really have to get on our horses." In their 2011 regular-season meeting, the Saints recorded their second-highest yardage output in franchise history against the Giants with 577 -- 205 of which came on the ground.

"So there's a lot of things that are going to have to be grasped, but it's not the scheme that we're least familiar with," Coughlin said. "We might be familiar with it, but it still doesn't make it any easier to defend, I guess, is what I'm trying to say."

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