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Giants focus on stopping Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger

New York Giants defensive tackle Justin Tuck (91)

New York Giants defensive tackle Justin Tuck (91) and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, bottom, sack Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. (Oct. 26, 2008) Photo Credit: AP

The Giants' defensive line spent most of the first half of the season chasing quarterbacks who were fast and quick enough to make them look silly. Michael Vick, Tony Romo and, of course, Robert Griffin III have scrambled and danced their way around pressure from the pass rush.

Now, finally, this week they get a quarterback they don't have to worry about outrunning them. A more stationary target.

Against Ben Roethlisberger, though, getting there is only half the battle.

"There is a reason why they call him Big Ben," Justin Tuck said Thursday. "He's a guy that definitely does a great job of prolonging plays, not necessarily with his feet, but he is pretty good at that, too. You just see guys get straight rushes and he kind of sidesteps them and they kind of fall off of him. We realize that is going to be a big obstacle for us and make sure that we wrap him up and get to him."

Roethlisberger is listed at 6-5 and 241 pounds. That's about the same height as Jason Pierre-Paul, just a few pounds shy of the weight of Osi Umenyiora.

"It's going to be hard to take him down," Pierre-Paul said. "We have to group-tackle him. That's something we already know."

Pierre-Paul said he's watched tape of defenders bouncing off Roethlisberger. "That can happen to us, too," he said.

Making Roethlisberger even more dangerous is that he no longer has to buy as much time in the pocket. With Todd Haley as offensive coordinator, Roethlisberger is getting the ball out more quickly on shorter passes. That's something the Giants are used to -- teams have been slanting them all season to combat their pass rush -- but it's not something they have seen from Roethlisberger.

"I can remember when we played him [in 2008], as a D-lineman you are watching film and you are kind of licking your chops and Ben would stand in there for four or five seconds," Tuck said. "Now it's a little bit less, it's three or less most of the time. That is another challenge in itself."

Roethlisberger's size and ability to extend plays isn't an issue only for the linemen and linebackers who will be trying to sack him.

"He's always looking downfield to throw the ball," safety Antrel Rolle said. "He's a very hard guy to bring down. Although you do see someone have him by the leg or whatever the case may be, still stay in your coverage because he will break and throw, he will throw with someone hanging on one arm, he'll throw with someone hanging on one leg. That's just the kind of guy he is. A very tough, strong guy."

Said Tuck: "Most of the time you can get to him, and when you do get to him, he is strong enough to let you dangle off of him and he'll still complete a pass. We are going to have to be completely on our game to affect what they want to do when it comes to Ben."

Usually, the Giants make stopping the run their first priority. This week, though, it's about stopping Roethlisberger.

"He is the reason why they are so successful in their offense," Tuck said. "That's not a knock on their running game. But when you think of Pittsburgh first, you've got to think of him. He is, I think, the main reason why they are so successful on third down: his ability to prolong plays, and you got guys hanging off of him and he's still figuring it out."

In this game, it's not just Big Ben the Giants are worried about. Said Tuck: "The biggest thing is Ben."


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