Revenge would be tweet for Giants

Justin Tuck, who says he hopes Michael Vick plays Sunday, pressures Rams QB Sam Bradford.
Justin Tuck, who says he hopes Michael Vick plays Sunday, pressures Rams QB Sam Bradford. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: September 21, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Giants safety Antrel Rolle thinks New York should be 2-0.

LeSean McCoy said the same thing about the Eagles after Sunday's loss.

See, there's common ground after all.

Truth is, Twitter is a helpful platform for athletes in need of a trash-talk fix, as the Eagles running back illustrated so vividly this summer when he initiated some toxic tweets with his rivals up north. For no apparent reason other than boredom, McCoy tweeted that Osi Umenyiora was "overrated and soft" and called him only the third-best defensive end on the Giants' roster. Umenyiora responded by calling McCoy "she" repeatedly in tweets and asserting that the Giants' defense commonly referred to him as "Lady Gaga."

As her attendance Monday night proved, Lady Gaga is a big Giants fan. So maybe it wasn't an insult? Hard to tell, since Umenyiora has been out since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in late August, and wasn't in the locker room after New York's 28-16 victory over the St. Louis Rams to clarify.

Osi might play for the first time when the Giants visit the Linc this Sunday, but at least for a while McCoy's barb will be accurate. With wide receivers Mario Manningham (concussion) and Domenik Hixon (knee) undergoing tests in the wake of Monday's game, though, Osi's health isn't even on the top of the list of Giants concerns. Besides new Eagles receiver Steve Smith, the Giants also lost tight end Kevin Boss to free agency. As coach Tom Coughlin quipped after reading the injury report following Monday's win, "Are there any other tight ends in the crowd?"

Eli Manning wasn't sharp Monday even before those two were hurt. New York rushed for only 119 yards and the Giants' defense surrendered 331 passing yards to Sam Bradford and the Rams despite the absence of Stephen Jackson.

Maybe that's why no one seemed interested in feeding the tweeting the other night. Asked if he wanted to play against Michael Vick on Sunday, New York defensive end Justin Tuck said, "Yeah, why not? I mean, that guy is a tremendous athlete, and as he goes, his team goes. You always want to beat teams at their best."

Ah, but no Vick would likely mean more carries for McCoy.

"So?" said the Giants veteran. "Just gives me more opportunities to tackle him."

Make hay with this if you like, but he said this matter-of-factly. The length of the lockout, the mad free-agent scramble that saw Boss leave for Oakland and Smith join the enemy, the uncertainty that hounds key components of both teams and critical injuries already to both sides - these are the topics that dominated their thoughts Monday, and are likely to this week.

Even Rolle, who ticked off Washington fans with his reverse Herb Brooks - "If we played them 100 times, they might win five," he said - waved off a chance to get off first after Monday's game. Rolle recovered by yesterday, though, telling WFAN radio in New York that DeSean Jackson would not be hard to stop.

But Tuck followed his tackle quote with this: "McCoy is a good football player. He's shifty. The combination of his speed and his vision comes hand-in-hand with how potent a passing offense they are."

This does not mean the Giants see Sunday's matchup as just another game. "There's a little bad blood there, right?" quipped defensive end Dave Tollefson, whose fumble recovery helped the Giants get untracked Monday.

"It's going to be a heated game," said linebacker Michael Boley, who returned an errant lateral pass 65 yards for another touchdown. "Especially the way we lost to them in that last game last year."

You remember. End of game. Jackson running down the sideline on a punt return as Coughlin slams his clipboard to the ground.

The Eagles make the playoffs. The Giants, despite a late-season run, do not.

"Last year," said Tuck, "will linger with me until I die."

"I think we were poised as a football team to make a lot of noise in the playoffs," he said. "We'd been there before and it was an eerily similar feeling. I told Aaron Rodgers that Green Bay team last year reminded me of what our '07 [Super Bowl-winning] team was. You never know what's going to happen. You get in there in those playoffs, you never know what team is going to get hot. And we had a shot."

Few people give them a shot this season. They were big losers in the postlockout free-agent scramble and, two games in, are already besieged by injuries to key personnel. Washington's Rex Grossman looked like Johnny Unitas against them and Bradford's big passing night was sabotaged by some key turnovers. Veteran offensive lineman David Diehl spoke about "continuing to gel" Monday and Tuck spoke of getting roles defined, but the best thing this team has going for it is the rivalry itself and the way the latest chapter of it ended.

"Everybody in that locker room feels as though we owe the Eagles a little something," Tuck said. "So that's going to be a big game for us . . . Hopefully we can go down there and handle what that game is going to be about. Those fans are going to be rowdy, we know they're going to be pumped.

"We're coming . . . "


Send email to

donnels@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

www.philly.com/SamDonnellon.

 

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