|Tuck is unimpressed with Atlanta's front five. (US PRESSWIRE)|
By Ryan Wilson
Well, that didn't take long. A day after the Giants beat the Cowboys and secured the final playoff spot, and six days before they host the Atlanta Falcons, defensive end Justin Tuck got down to the business of calling a spade a spade, at least from his perspective.
Namely: the Falcons' offensive line plays dirty.
“Yeah we’ve seen it. We know they have that quote-unquote ‘reputation,’” Tuck said according to the New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano. “Most people, you would call them dirt bags. But it is what it is. We got to make sure we do our job and if we are doing our job well. Then they will be upset and they will be trying to do things to get us off our game, and we’ve got to take that as a compliment.”
It is what it is, indeed. And it's not the first time Atlanta's front five have been accused of taking cheap shots. In October, the Packers' defense was unimpressed with the Falcons' tactics.
"It’s unnecessary,” defensive end Ryan Pickett said at the time. “They call it playing physical. But it’s after the whistle. It’s not physical. We know it watching tape that you they like to hit after the whistle. You have to watching yourself around the piles.
"They point at you if you react. We just felt like if we just punch them upfront at the start it would end that. It’s frustrating to a point, but we know we have to dominate them upfront in between that stuff.”
The idea, at least from the offense's perspective, is to take the defense out of its game. Tuck certainly recognizes this.
“They just want to get you fired up and get you to retaliate and draw a cheap penalty,” he said. “But it’s tough to ignore it, but you have a chance to get them back and have to take advantage of it.”
Easy in theory, a little tougher in practice. Going back to the Green Bay-Atlanta game from Week 5, Falcons' offensive lineman Joe Hawley pushed Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk in the back at the end of a play, Hawk retaliated, Hawley took a dive, and Hawk was promptly flagged for unnecessary roughness.
“I’m not that strong,” Hawk said. “I wish I was strong enough to do that.”
The Lions, who lost to the Falcons in Week 7, echoed similar sentiments.
“You watch film of Atlanta's O-line and they're 20, 30 yards down the field cutting guys,” Lions defensive end Cliff Avril said. “You're running toward the pile and they're trying to clean you up.”
The fun starts Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
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