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Justin Pugh reflects on 2013 rookie year

In a next-man-up league, the Giants were on the verge of finding out what happens if there wasn't a next man.

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But on a day Justin Pugh tied Lawrence Taylor in a corner of team history, the Giants avoided the situation, partly due to the continuity provided by the rookie right tackle.

Lining up to begin Sunday's finale against Washington, Pugh became the first Giants' first round draft choice to start an entire 16-game season since Taylor, the Hall of Fame linebacker, did so in 1981. From there, the Giants, who dressed seven offensive linemen in Week 17, lost their left side when guard James Brewer (ankle) and tackle Will Beatty (fractured leg) had to leave the game.

"I've never been a part of it where there was no one left," Pugh said. "If something happened, we had no other offensive linemen. But it's a credit to the leaders we have on this team. They stayed out there, and we fought to the end and it's great to get the win today."

Just as they fought to the end in the 20-6 victory over the Redskins, Pugh and the Giants never gave up on the season, which began with six straight losses.

Big Blue went 7-3 in their final 10 games to finish 7-9 on the year.

"We started out 0-6, so it's a lot of 'what ifs' now," Pugh said. "I wish we could go back and start and still have six games to play. But obviously you don't. So you've got to take the positives from the season and just keep getting better and keep playing hard and this is just going to be fuel to the fire."

Moments after concluding his rookie campaign, Pugh assessed his season, pointing to the Chicago game in Week 6 as his breakthrough.

"I think it was a little bit inconsistent for the way I want to be," he said. "I had some down games. I just want to be that guy that you can always count on, you know what you're going to get from him, and I think that's something I need to do a better job of being more consistent."

"I think I could play wherever they need me to play," Pugh added when asked about where he could play moving forward. "I'm not going to say 'I need to play this position.' I want to win games. I want to go to the playoffs. I want to keep the quarterback upright. So if that's me at tackle, me at guard, me at center, I'll play."

That's the same mindset he brought into the season after the Giants drafted him last April.

Pugh didn't know where he would fit into the offensive line, but after 16 games at right tackle, he knows how he feels about the team.

"I feel good about where we're heading," Pugh said. "I feel good about this team. I feel good about the fight that we have, and I think that never giving up is something that you can take away from this season. We're always going to go out there and fight."

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