Every NFL "expert" contends the season is all but over for the New York Giants, but Big Blue isn't throwing in the towel just yet. The Giants kept their slim playoff chances alive with their 24-17 victory over their NFC East division rival the Washington Redskins on Sunday night. The Giants, who most analysts argue their playoff chances evaporated following their loss to the Dallas Cowboys a week ago, are still alive for a playoff spot in the NFC.
After starting out 0-6 on the season, the Giants have gone 5-1 in their last six games benefitted from a lot of improvement in many areas of their team. One player that has shown improvement from the beginning of the season is rookie offensive tackle Justin Pugh. Pugh was the Giants first round pick in the draft this past April, has helped the Giants get better in the running game the past six games.
"I think it's being out there, getting those live reps," noted Pugh. "When you're thrown into the fire like I was with Dave Diehl going down, me having to step up, you learn what you're made of. I think the NFL let's you find out real quick if you're going to be able to compete or not. I'm just trying to learn from the best, the guys in front of me, and go out there and play physical. I try to go out there and fight every play and just learn from my mistakes and learn from things I do well and trying to repeat those things."
The progress in Pugh's play has shown the past two weeks against the Cowboys and Redskins, where Pugh help set up some big runs for the Giants.
"It's an effort from all guys," noted Pugh. "Guys blocking backside, making sure they're doing their job, receivers blocking downfield. He may have found that one little hole on our side, but at the same time if someone else isn't doing their job, blocking downfield, those runs may never happen. I think as offensive linemen, you have to always talk about the five guys, not just one side or one guy."
A big part of Pugh improvements on the field has been playing next to Giants veteran offensive lineman David Diehl, who has given Pugh a lot of advice on becoming a good NFL offensive lineman/
"He tries to help me out and tell me what kind of moves those certain guys will make, or how I can adjust my set or get an advantage on certain plays," stated Pugh. " I really think it's just him showing me how to go out there and battle. You have to be a fighter out there in the NFL. Every guy, week in and week out, you're going against a top-notch player. Obviously, Kerrigan last night was a great player and he did give me some trouble at some points in the game. You have to be able to respond. I think that's something where you don't ever put your head down and let one bad play affect the next one. You go out there and start fresh every play."
With Pugh improvements on his play on the field, the Giants offensive line has been solid and needs to stay so these next four games if the Giants want any hope for making the playoffs or winning the division.