David Diehl is a huge man. The Giants’ starting left guard is listed at 6-foot-5 and 304 pounds. He would tower over nearly any other person he might encounter, blot them out like an eclipse even. So how did he say he was going to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Patriots?
“I might have to eat a little extra this week going into this one,” Diehl said.
When the Giants line up on offense on Sunday, there will be only one player on the Patriots’ defense who was there when the two teams played each other in Super Bowl XLII. That’s Vince Wilfork, the IMAX version of a nose tackle and the reason Diehl tried to bulk up. It will be up to Diehl, fellow guard Chris Snee, and (likely) backup center Kevin Boothe to keep him from disrupting what the Giants are trying to do.
“He’s a big man and he moves well,” Snee said of Wilfork, having experienced playing against him numerous times, including three times in college. “He’s like 360 pounds. He’s exactly what it looks like. He’s a load and he’s a good football player.”
There will plenty of sexy battles taking place on the field today. Some of them will be head-to-head, like Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle covering Wes Welker or Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz trying to pick apart the beleaguered Patriots pass defense. Others will be parallel comparisons, such as the dissection of quarterbacks Eli Manning and Tom Brady to see who is more elite (if there is such a thing) and who is in whom’s class.
But deep in the trenches will be the nasty battle that could ultimately decide who wins this game. If the Giants can control Wilfork, they’re likely to control their destiny on Sunday. They can't afford to come up small in that confrontation.
It’s not just Big Vince that clogs the middle of the field. The Patriots have gone to more four-man fronts this season and have employed Albert Haynesworth to line up alongside Wilfork. Is it any wonder that the Patriots, despite having the worst passing defense in the league, have the ninth-best run defense?
“They’ve got about 600 pounds up there on their front line,” running back D.J. Ware said, shortchanging the unit a couple dozen cheeseburgers. “It’s hard to get some movement on those guys, and when you do they got those big linebackers that don’t want to do nothing but come down hill and hit you. It’s kind of tough. We just have to go out there and keep pounding.”
“We have to find some way to root them out,” Snee said. “We need to be physical, but with technique.”
Wilfork isn’t only a problem against the run; he has 1.5 sacks and two interceptions this season. Wilfork said he expects the Giants to play to their strength – Eli Manning and the passing game – against the Patriots’ glaring weakness.
“That’s not to say they’re not going to run the ball,” Wilfork said. “We understand that. But a one-dimensional team shouldn’t be able to beat us.”
There’s nothing one-dimensional about Wilfork. He’ll be coming at the Giants in all three dimensions. The just can’t flinch.