EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -The frustration of an 0-2 start that has seen the New York Giants give up 80 points got to Pro Bowl middle linebacker Antonio Pierce on Thursday.
Pierce didn't rant a couple of days before the Giants headed to Washington to play the Redskins (2-0). He just reverted to the ``us-against-them'' mentality that he employed a year ago when New York started 1-2.
There was sarcasm in his voice. He refused to talk about the defense much. Occasionally he pulled an air horn from under a towel and let out an annoying blast. And when pressed about the defense, he asked fans and the media to come up with solutions because the players and coaches haven't.
``We're asking the media and the fans, if you all know how, to help out the New York Giants' defense,'' Pierce said. ``We would appreciate it. Send it to Giants.com.''
The only time he sounded genuine was when he talked about giving up 80 points to Dallas and Green Bay, the franchise's worst combined opening two-game total since 1966.
``The fact is, we are 0-2, we have given up 80 points and we're 29th, I believe, in defense,'' Pierce said. ``We are a bad team right now. That is a fact. But it is a long season. We have 14 games left. I have seen a lot of teams go 2-0 and not go to the Super Bowl. I have seen 0-2 teams bounce back.''
Seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan was just as chippy. He ripped a television report during last week's loss to Green Bay that said the defenders had no spark sitting on the bench.
``You can't think about yesterday's spoiled milk, you have to worry about the delivery today,'' Strahan said. ``We are worried about what we are going to do on Sunday and that is our whole focus. You can't be upset. You can come out here and work harder, that is about the only thing you can do, and hopefully that will rectify what happened the last few weeks by getting a win on Sunday.''
With the defense reeling, it wasn't surprising that Jessie Armstrong was in the locker room Thursday. The former Pro Bowler who played for both the Giants and Redskins probably had a few words for the defense, which is being guided by new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo this season.
Armstead recalled that in the late 1990s when current Carolina coach John Fox became the defensive coordinator under Jim Fassel the unit struggled for four games.
``They'll be all right,'' Armstead said.
Spagnuolo also remains optimistic.
``You can't let two games shake your confidence in a 16-game season,'' he said. ``And you know, like anything that we all do, and you probably do the same thing, when you are in certain adverse situations, you rely back on prior experiences. In 2000 and I think it was '03 or '02, we (in Philadelphia) began 0-2. And we ended up in the NFC championship game. So it's not shaken me yet.''
If there is one thing the Giants need, it would be for someone on the defense to step up and play a big game. The defensive line has only two sacks this season and almost no one is making game-changing plays. The linebackers are missing tackles and no one in the secondary is staying close to his man.
Strahan believes the defense can turn things around quickly.
``I think the only thing we are lacking is just the confidence part of it,'' he said. ``Kind of like the chicken or the egg: what comes first, the confidence or the win?''
Second-year defensive tackle Barry Cofield seemed to have a better perspective. He said that for all the criticism the defense has taken in the media and from the fans, it's nothing compared to what the players are saying to themselves.
``When you're worst in defense, for us, this is a huge game,'' Cofield said. ``It wouldn't matter if we were playing a high school team. We want to hold them to zero to make up for what already happened.''
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