EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Antrel Rolle wants the New York Giants to start being a little nastier, and not just the defense.
The veteran safety who tends to be the team’s most outspoken player said Wednesday that the Giants (7-5) need to start showing the tenacity of one of those nasty dogs who is not out to make any friends.
“I don’t think we have played dominant on a consistent basis,” Rolle said Wednesday. “I think we can definitely go out there and have a little more dog in our system. Attack a lot more, be more physical at the point of attack and make plays when the opportunity presents itself.”
The Giants have done that only twice this season, and both came in games against teams that are leading their divisions They dominated San Francisco, 26-3, in mid-October, and made Green Bay look ordinary two weeks ago en route to a 38-10 win.
The rest of the season has been a series of ups and downs. The most recent was of the latter variety, a 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins Monday. The Giants shot themselves in the foot with nine penalties, and a failure to get a defensive stop late.
As such, the season has come down to four games for the defending Super Bowl champions. And now is the time to pick it up despite holding a one-game lead over Washington (6-6) and Dallas (6-6) in the NFC East.
The stretch run starts Sunday at MetLife Stadium against New Orleans (5-7), a desperate team that likely needs to win out to make the postseason.
Rolle not only wants to see the Giants be more physical, he wants them to play with an attitude — the same kind of style they used last season in finishing with a six-game winning streak.
“This game is just as much mental as it is physical,” Rolle said. “You got to give yourself an edge. You can’t go in there, you know, praising this team, praising that team. You’ve already somewhat defeated yourself at that point.”
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said Rolle is right on the mark, and that the defense has to step up.
“I think we’re a little soft, but I think we’ll get there,” he said. “We haven’t played our best game this year. I know that for a fact.”
Pierre-Paul would not say specifically how the defense was soft, other than repeating the best is still to come.
“As a defense, we have to make a statement,” he said. “We haven’t made a statement ever since, I’ll say, San Francisco. Well, I’m lying, because we did beat up on Green Bay quite a little bit. But, ever since then, we haven’t made a statement. We’ve just been losing. And we’re all not playing together. When you’re a team, on an organization like this, you’ve got to play together as one.
“Otherwise, you’ll keep going downhill.”
The third-year player, slowed by a sore back last week, said everyone just needs to work harder, and listen to the coaches. Especially with the Saints coming to town. New Orleans is not what it used to be, clearly. But the Saints handled the Giants, 49-24, last season. Saints quarterback Drew Brees has posted four wins in four games vs. the Giants, as well.
But New York knows one thing. Brees won’t scramble as much as Washington’s Robert Griffin III did on Monday.
“The Redskins got a great scheme going on there, especially with their QB. Playing that option, man, is crazy,” Pierre-Paul said. “I think we’re one of the best teams that have played it, played it well. But it’s a pain. I hate playing it. So, now going up to a traditional offense, we know what we’re going to probably get, and it’s much easier.
“Having an option quarterback, coming from college, and the kid’s fast, man. I’m getting old, you know? It should be much easier this weekend.”
Not sure Brees feels the same way. Combined, he threw for eight touchdowns — with no interceptions — in lopsided wins over New York in 2009 and 2011.
“I have all the confidence in the world in this team. And I am sure other players here feel the same way,” Rolle said. “We just need to go out there and have that same confidence in ourselves when we take the field, which we do. But we need to go out there and prove it. Talk is cheap.
“We have to go out and play the game.”
Rolle laughed when asked what breed of dog the Giants needed to be.
“All dogs bite,” he said. “Just need to go out there and play ball. That’s it. Save the hugs and kisses for after the game.”
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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.