Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Premonition Came True for Revitalized Jpp

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Premonition Came True for Revitalized Jpp

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD -- If six straight losses defined the Giants' start to the season, then six incredible seconds might have just saved it.

Six seconds was all it took for Jason Pierre-Paul to change the course of Sunday's game against the Packers, an interception return for a touchdown that almost defies description for its combination of football smarts and football skill. It was a pickoff at the line of scrimmage that one Giant observer likened to "standing on the racetrack and catching an Indy car," a run to the end zone that reminded everyone of the player JPP is supposed to be, the one he's been before, and the one the Giants hope is here to stay.

"One of the best plays I've ever seen," safety Antrel Rolle said. "He's freakish."

Here's how freakish Pierre-Paul was Sunday:

With 10:55 left in the game, the Packers took over at their 30- yard line, down a touchdown and ready to drive for a tie. Pierre- Paul lined up at his right defensive end position, and when he saw where tight end Andrew Quarless was positioned, he was certain he knew what was coming. He alerted his teammates to the formation.

"You want the truth or a lie? Honestly, I called it before it even happened, in the huddle, and sure enough that was the play," he said.

And then, he made them a promise.

"He said he was going to pick the ball off," Rolle said.

Pity the third-string quarterback on the other side. Scott Tolzien had no idea what was coming.

Tolzien had been playing well, using his three-step drops and fast-paced releases to repeatedly burn the Giants over the top, and he figured to do the same when he aimed a quick out route Quarless' way. Yet as quickly as he let go of the ball, Pierre-Paul leapt in his path, snatching the ball with two hands. From the 24-yard line, he sprinted toward the end zone with a momentarily stunned Giants sideline barely recovering in time to see what was happening.

"You had to look up quick to see it," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

"I was on the sideline and I kind of missed it," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "You see the quarterback throw the ball and your eyes naturally track where the ball is going, all of a sudden you don't see the ball anywhere, and you see people turning and running, and you're like, 'Wow did he just catch that like that?' You had to really watch the replay to appreciate the play he made."

To truly appreciate the play, you have to understand the track of these past two seasons, the battle of this past week in practice. Pierre-Paul was held out of action until Friday because of a right shoulder so sore, one Giants source said coaches were told he couldn't even lift his hand over his head until the end of the week. Add that to the season-long recovery from off-season back surgery and the lingering frustration of last year's step back from his All- Pro, Super Bowl season in 2011, and you begin to understand how long Pierre-Paul has been waiting, and working, for a breakout moment like this one. …

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