It was perhaps the greatest individual performance Justin Tuck has had in his career, registering four sacks and playing every defensive snap against the Redskins in Sunday's 24-17 road win. When he came into the locker room, though, one of the first messages of congratulations he saw was from former teammate and old friend Osi Umenyiora, who reminded him, not so subtly, that he could have done better.
"He politely said that I was close," Tuck said of coming within two sacks of Umenyiora's franchise record of six in a single game.
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Tuck wouldn't provide the details of their correspondence, but Umenyiora, now a Falcon, told Newsday via email that he texted Tuck to tell him he was thrilled to watch him play at such a level.
"It was an amazing performance from him and I told him how happy I was for him," Umenyiora wrote.
The performance was a prime-time validation that Tuck is playing his best football in years. He's been quietly going about his business for most of this season, gaining the praise of coaches but not making too big of a splash on the stat sheet. That changed Sunday night.
"I feel like this season, I have been more of a complete player," Tuck said. "I feel like I could have had a few games like the one [Sunday] night, if everything fell into place. I feel like I've had games where I was in the backfield a lot, disrupting plays and was [close] or half a second away from sacks."
Tuck played all 68 defensive snaps against the Redskins (as did fellow defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka because of the absence of Jason Pierre-Paul). It was, Tuck said, the first time since 2008 that he's done that. The Giants normally play a rotation of defensive ends, but Tuck said he thinks he can sustain that kind of grind if Pierre-Paul is sidelined for the next few games. Tom Coughlin said he did not have an update on Pierre-Paul's condition.
"It was fun last night being out there the whole time, because it allows you to get into a rhythm and I think I kind of benefited from it in some regards," Tuck said Monday. "My body isn't telling me that right now, but it was fun."
Tuck even said he felt like he left a few takedowns of Robert Griffin III on the field Sunday night. Which may be a good thing, because had he registered any more sacks, he might have lost a fan.
"I was going to be very happy for him unless he got six sacks," Umenyiora wrote. "I told him I will hold on to that record."
Notes & quotes: Rookie DE Damontre Moore played 17 defensive snaps against the Redskins, his first extended action of the season. "It was good for him to be out there and he did a couple of good things and got an opportunity to play some in that regard, as well as special teams," Coughlin said. "Those are all positives." . . . Eli Manning has been sacked 31 times, more than any other season in his career and there are still four games to play. "We're not real pleased with that, but it's not just the line," Coughlin said. "It's your tight ends, it's your backs, it's your ability to get in the right protections." . . . The NFL announced that the Dec. 14 Giants home game against the Seahawks will remain a 1 p.m. start. It was eligible to be flexed to later in the day.