Giants Take Menacing Defense to Philly, Hope to Avoid Fines

Giants defensive end Justin Tuck was fined $7,500 earlier this week for his seemingly legal sack of Cowboys quarterback Brooks Bollinger. The fine was later rescinded after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saw the play in question. So that's progress, I suppose.

This Sunday, however, the Giants won't be facing a diminutive third-stringer who has 10 career starts in six NFL seasons, they'll be up against the Eagles' Donovan McNabb, who is quietly having one of his best seasons. For New York's pass rush, the problem remains, though: how to sack the quarterback, but do it in a manner that doesn't offend the delicate sensibilities of the officials, or later, the league executives responsible for meting out punishments for questionable on-field behavior.

That we're even having this conversation is ludicrous, but Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield makes the best of an absurd situation, telling the New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano: "A guy like [McNabb], he's so strong, you have to tackle him violently, otherwise he won't go down ... You just have to hope the flag doesn't come out. It's kind of scary, but for $7,500 you've got to take that chance. I don't know what to say. You just go out there and play hard and hope that doesn't happen."

Cofield will almost certainly be fined for tangentially suggesting the officials might've blown a call, but rules are rules, as Goodell likes to say. (Not sure I've ever heard him utter those words but I envision him having the quote in a frame on his desk. Right next to the one that says "The Buck Stops Here" and his "World's Best Dad" mug.)

As for the Giants-Eagles matchup, New York currently leads the NFC East by a game and a half over Washington, with Philadelphia two back in third place. The Eagles are also currently one game out of the wild-card race (tied, unbelievably, with the upstart Falcons), so they certainly have more to gain with a victory Sunday night. The outcome will almost certainly be decided by defense -- Jimmy Johnson and one-time protege Steve Spagnuolo are two of the best coordinators in the league -- the only question is how many hard-hitting tackles will result in misguided fines from the league office.

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