He paused, then continued.
“Pretty much, you’ve got to get lucky.”
Tuck was talking about Robert Griffin III, the Washington Redskins rookie quarterback, the man who made Monday night’s 17-16 win possible, and the man who Tuck predicted will frustrate defenses for years.
The Giants won the last time these teams met, and Tuck told reporters after that contest that he was “mad at the football gods” for delivering Griffin to the NFC East, the title of which is in contention with the Redskins’ third consecutive victory.
This time, Griffin kept confusing New York’s outstanding defenders. A week earlier, the Giants sacked Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers five times in a victory.
Monday, they failed to bring down Griffin once. So is there just a mental strain on defenders when it comes to Griffin?
“No,” Tuck said, “I think it’s a lot of physical strain, chasing him around. . . . There were a couple times we had the perfect play called; he just outran us to the edge.”
This was hardly Griffin’s finest game. He passed for only 163 yards, but he rushed for 72 more and had no interceptions. The most memorable play, though, came when the Giants forced Griffin to fumble, but instead of jumping on it, those same defenders watched as the ball popped upward and landed in Joshua Morgan’s hands, and then they watched Morgan run into the end zone. Nothing came easy, and Tuck said he believed that nothing would come easy in future games against the Redskins.
“He’s going to be a problem,” he said, “for a lot of years to come.”
The Redskins exposed a problem for the Giants: Their outstanding defense, at least counting star players and Pro Bowl appearances, is having a disappointing season.
It entered Monday giving up 366.6 yards per game, 22nd in the league, and its best pass-rushing games have come only occasionally — six sacks against San Francisco, five against the Packers.
On this night, it wasn’t just Griffin who was confusing and frustrating and whatever words the Giants could muster. Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris also was outstanding, rushing for 124 yards.
“They outworked us,” Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said.
Pierre-Paul added that this time, six weeks after New York’s 27-23 win, it actually was easier to prepare for the Redskins. As much confusion as went on between the whistles, the days leading toward Monday were simpler. Or so it seemed.
“We had a game plan, and we tried to execute it,” Pierre-Paul said. “But they executed it better than us.”
There was frustration throughout the locker room and coach’s office. Giants Coach Tom Coughlin lamented his team’s mistakes, in penalties and in allowing the Redskins to convert time and again in the second half. “We talk finish, finish, finish, finish, finish,” Coughlin said.
And then he just shook his head. That kind of night.