Bear Pascoe caught a pass in the flat against the Vikings Monday night and made a move that had even the non-partisan Detroit fans gasping. After the reception, he turned upfield and jumped over a linebacker to gain a few extra yards.
"He tried to demonstrate his leaping ability," coach Tom Coughlin said, "which was probably a jump of about six to seven inches."
While it's easy to hardy-har-har about the big, clumsy fullback hurdling players, the leaps that the Giants are not laughing about have been made by Pascoe in his transition from backup tight end - he began the season on the practice squad, in fact - to starting fullback. He's been a big part of the Giants' successful running game this season, replacing Madison Hedgecock during the Week 4 game against the Bears and never relinquishing the position.
"I don't think Bear gets as much credit as he should get for all that he's done," tackle David Diehl said this past week. "You see the contributions and how well he's played and what he's done for our offense."
He'll be called upon to continue contributing Sunday. The Eagles are the only defense that has held the Giants to fewer than 100 rushing yards this season - the Giants had 61 yards on 19 carries in their November meeting - and some of that could be attributed to their complicated blitzes that Pascoe was not quite ready to absorb.
Now, a month removed from the last Eagles game and more than two months into his new career calling as a fullback, Pascoe is ready.
No play better exemplified that than the one on which Brandon Jacobs ran for a career-best 73 yards Monday night against the Vikings. On that play, Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway was close to the line showing blitz, so the non-verbal call was for Diehl, the tackle, to block down on Greenway. That left defensive end Jared Allen unblocked by Diehl, but Pascoe was there to pick him up. Sort of like a switch in man-to-man basketball defense. The Giants call it a "pizza" block - you take my slice and I'll take yours.
"As soon as I saw him creeping up, I was going through my head and I made that read on my first step," Pascoe said. "I saw Diehl come down on the Will [weak-side linebacker] and so I knew that the end was coming off the edge, so I tried to get on him as best I could, cover him up. Brandon made a great read and down the sideline he went."
Pascoe didn't exactly pancake Allen - "If anything, I just got in his way," he said - but the fact that he was able to see the play develop, analyze it and execute it is something he said he would not have been able to do earlier this year.
"You have to have a little more savvy on that," he said. "You have to see it coming and have a heads up and be playing with your eyes. If you play fast with your eyes, your feet will follow."
That last bit of advice came from running backs coach Jerald Ingram, who has worked closely with Pascoe to groom him at his new position.
"He's not only earned the respect of his teammates, but he's earned my respect in terms of play-calling," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said of Pascoe. "I don't hesitate to run behind him at all because I know he'll do the right thing."
Pascoe also had a key block on Greenway on Ahmad Bradshaw's 48-yard TD run. That was more straightforward than Jacobs' run. He simply came through the hole ahead of Bradshaw and sealed the linebacker. And on that play, Pascoe had the added satisfaction of seeing Bradshaw reach the end zone.
"That's as good as it gets right there when you make your block and you see that running back bounce out and he's down the field and then he's doing his job," Pascoe said. "I take great pride in giving those guys a great look and making it as easy as possible for them to get down the field and get us yards and get us points."
If he can do that against the Eagles, the Giants will have a much better chance of winning. The block on Jacobs' run last week has shown teammates and coaches that he is advancing rapidly.
"Can I say he'd make that play [earlier this season]?" Diehl asked of the pizza block he shared with Pascoe. "I don't know. But he's making the plays now, and there's nobody who deserves more credit than him for the impact that he's had on our offense."