Toward the end of the Washington game, Kevin Boothe was looking up at the clock just as Jason Pierre-Paul's stats flashed up on one of the screens. He saw a double-digit number in the tackle column and initially thought they must be his season tallies.
That wasn't the case. Pierre-Paul finished with 16 total tackles that game to go along with a sack, two tackles for losses and three quarterback hits.
"I was shocked," Boothe said on Thursday. "But that's the type of player he is. He's already among the elite in the league."
Boothe can appreciate the defensive end because he's "unfortunately" had the pleasure of going up against him in practice for two years. But that's just practice.
The Jets face Pierre-Paul in real time this Saturday on the field of MetLife Stadium, and one of the major subplots will be the matchup between him and their own first-round draft choice, left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
"Well, I think with Pierre-Paul, I think when you look at him, if you're going to block him with one guy, it's going to take a player like D'Brickashaw [Ferguson]," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said earlier in the week. "There are very few Pierre-Pauls in the league, there are very few D'Brickashaw Fergusons in the league."
Ryan obviously wouldn't divulge the game plan, but he said that Ferguson will "occasionally" have some help sent his way. Pierre-Paul acknowledged the marquee matchup today.
"I see he's a physical guy," Pierre-Paul said. "He's athletic so it will be a challenge with me and him. It's going to be nice to watch."
He also addressed what's at stake in the game as a whole and said that the winner will be "the talk of the town," regardless if people are calling it JetLife Stadium or Giants Stadium.
"At the end of the day, it's all who's going to win on Saturday at one o'clock," he said. "At 4:15, game's over, whoever comes out with the win, that's the best team."
Pierre-Paul has 13.5 sacks this season with two forced fumbles, 76 tackles and has broken up six passes. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez has been sacked seven times in the past two games heading into the Christmas Eve bout.
The quarterback has taken notice.
"He's been having a heck of a year," Sanchez said of Pierre-Paul on Wednesday. "It'd be crazy to say you haven't noticed him. He's a great player. He finishes to the whistle and I think that's one of the biggest things, he's just relentless. We're going to have to play well, give a great effort and be real sharp."
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