Justin Pugh was so sick of hearing about J.J. Watt that by the time he actually faced the Texans' All-Pro defensive end, his head was spinning -- and he allowed a sack.
It was an inauspicious beginning for the second-year right tackle's day against Watt, but it turned out to be one of the few glitches in his game. The Giants neutralized Watt Sunday as much as any team can, holding him to seven tackles, the one sack and one pass defensed and keeping him from making any game-changing plays.
What's more, Pugh said that by the second half, Watt and his fellow defensive linemen had "tapped out'' of the game.
" 'What's he going to do? How badly is he going to disrupt? How much is he going to hurt you guys?' '' Pugh said to reporters, parroting queries he faced in the week leading up to the Giants' 30-17 smackdown, which included 193 rushing yards, 176 by Rashad Jennings.
"Now you guys are asking the opposite question -- 'Why wasn't he disruptive?' -- and I think that's because we didn't want to hear that and we didn't want to answer those questions.''
They answered it with their play and earned a one-word description from Eli Manning that hadn't been uttered in these parts about blockers in quite some time.
"The offensive line was really dominant today,'' Manning said.
The quarterback noted that they were so much in a groove that they ran the same running play three straight times at one point.
Watt wasn't lined up against Pugh the entire game, although he spent most of it stationed there. The Texans also moved him to the other side, where he was over rookie left guard Weston Richburg and going against left tackle Will Beatty.
"It wasn't so much about where J.J. Watt was going to line up,'' Beatty said. "It was, 'OK, we've got to get our running game going.' Rashad came out with his mind-set ready to go. It wasn't always running away from Watt.''
On Jennings' 1-yard touchdown run, the Giants went straight at Watt, with Pugh and guard John Jerry clearing him out. Jennings walked into the end zone untouched.
"We showed the resiliency of our offensive line,'' Pugh said. "I remember after Week 1, people were asking if we were the worst offensive line in football.''
They answered that question Sunday, too.
With Greg Logan