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Justin Tuck says he and Giants are unaffected by criticism

Defensive end Justin Tuck reacts after a defensive

Defensive end Justin Tuck reacts after a defensive play against the Minnesota Vikings during a game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Oct. 21, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Justin Tuck is well aware of all the negative things that have been said about him and the Giants' defense. But that doesn't mean he cares much about it.

The defensive lineman defended himself and his teammates Friday night amid criticism that the defense -- and the team as a whole -- has vastly underperformed in 2013.

"It's kind of like water rolling off a duck's back," Tuck said at an event in Manhattan benefiting the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund. "You take it with a grain of salt and you move forward."

Tuck was responding to Rodney Harrison's comments in The New York Times. The former NFL safety, who last played in the league with the Patriots in 2008, said, "I don't know if they're sitting back shining their Super Bowl rings too much at home, but they're certainly not a good football team now." He added that Tuck, 30, "is on his last legs."

"I can say this with the utmost respect for Rodney Harrison: We don't care," said Tuck, who has 11/2 sacks in seven games this season. "We don't care what anybody outside that locker room says. At the end of the day, we understand what our job is and what we need to do, and that's what we're working on doing."

Tuck also said that although the Giants have given up an average of 30.9 points per game this season, the final score hasn't always reflected how the defense has played.

"A lot of people don't even know what our assignments are or what went wrong or what went right when it goes right," Tuck said. "They just see the end score, I guess, and make judgments that way."

Still, the Giants' defensive captain said that to return to respectability, the team has quite a bit of work ahead.

"We've obviously got to do it better because we're not where we want to be as a team yet," Tuck said. "But we're getting there, and we'll continue this fight and get better every day."

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