It's been a while since we've seen Justin Tuck play as dominantly as he did on Sunday night in the New York Giants 24-17 win over the Washington Redskins. In the two seasons of 2011 and 2012, Tuck registered just nine sacks, but he now has six-and-a-half in 2013 thanks to a four-sack effort versus Washington.
"At the end of the day, you want to have a successful season, you want to lead your team to victory," said Tuck after the game, "That's basically what I focused on doing this offseason and last night it finally came together a little bit."
Giants fans have been waiting for Tuck to put everything together for a couple of years now. The defensive end and captain has battled injuries for the past two seasons and the beginning of the 2013 campaign before his four takedowns of Robert Griffin III led New York to a win it desperately needed.
"Everyone knows my struggles to get healthy the previous two years and how that affected me on the football field," said Tuck, "But this year I've stayed out of the training room and started eating the right things and trying to do the right things."
Tuck's reemergence is coming at a time when the Giants need it the most. The team has struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks all season long and the problem was most apparent when Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo picked apart the defense during the final drive of a Week 12 loss. On Sunday, however, the Giants kept the pressure on Griffin III and allowed just three points in the second half.
"We understand that it's a long season and we have to keep fighting," said Tuck, "Regardless of what our record is, we have to keep fighting. I think that's the approach we've taken."
The Giants have no choice but to keep fighting if they still hold hopes of making the playoffs this season. The team is two games out of the division lead with upcoming games in San Diego and at home against Seattle.
Tuck, for one, isn't satisfied with four sacks and a victory, but that might be because his old friend and former Giant Osi Umenyiora once had six sacks in a single game.
"The first text I read was from Osi last night," said Tuck. "He politely said that I was close."
If the Giants plan on getting close to the playoffs, they'll need more great performances from Tuck and the rest of the defensive line in December.