After a 28-14 season-opening loss to the Redskins at FedEx Field, Antrel Rolle was so disgusted that he said “We know the Redskins are not a better team than us. If we played them 100 times they might win five.’’
That potentially-combustible quote on Tuesday was brought up to the Giants safety during his weekly radio spot on WFAN. Rolle was given the chance to back away from those comments with the Giants set for the rematch with the Redskins on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Did he really say the Giants would beat the Redskins 95 out of 100 times?
“I said ninety-nine,’’ Rolle said.
No, there was no backing away by Rolle, who was in a spirited and energized mood after the Giants ended a four-game losing streak with their 37-34 victory over the Cowboys.
“I don’t plan on losing to the Redskins, I’m going to be honest with you,’’ Rolle said. “I’m not guaranteeing a victory, I’m not doing any of that, we got to play the game come Sunday, but I’m very, very confident in this team and very, very confident we’re going to get the job done, go out there and bring it, bring it the way the New York Giants know how to bring it.’’
Rolle did not discount the defensive issues that continue to hurt the Giants.
“Our season will be shut short if we continue to play that way,’’ Rolle said.
But he took great exception to speculation that he was to blame for blowing the assignment on what turned out to be an uncontested 50-yard touchdown pass to an uncovered Dez Bryant, a play in which Rolle and cornerback Corey Webster clearly got their signals crossed.
“The play with Dez Bryant, I don’t know if I call that communication error, I don’t know what I want to call it, we don’t point fingers at each other but the mistake that was made, it shouldn’t have been made,” Rolle said.
“Which brings me to my other point. In this league every position you’re going to take some sort of blame, which is fine. People say the only thing that matters is what your coaches feel and your organization, which is fine, I understand that. But I don’t see it that way, because there’s fans out there, fans who really don’t understand the ins and outs of football, really doesn’t understand coverage and things of that nature. Whenever there’s a big play and you being the safeties, you’re always the one to get blamed and get finger-pointed and it’s wrong.”
The play gave the Cowboys a 34-22 lead late in the fourth quarter, and on the telecast, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said Rolle was at fault.
“The commentators don’t know the coverage we’re in, they don’t know how we’re playing our defense, they don’t know I’m disguising, showing a Cover 2 but I’m really supposed to drop down and play a Cover 3,” Rolle continued. “It drives me crazy, when I speak about this I’m not speaking about this only on behalf of Antrel Rolle, I’m speaking out on behalf of people across the league. Commentators always want to point the finger as if they know what they’re doing and they know what they’re talking about but in reality they don’t half of the time.
“There was something wrong, which shouldn’t have happened. There’s no one without sin in our defense. Everyone makes their own mistakes, no one’s perfect. I take a lot of pride in understanding our defense in and out. I have to understand our defense in and out, being the quarterback of the defense. I’m not saying I don’t make mistakes, because I do, I’m saying if there’s a coverage and I’m supposed to be in a certain area best believe I’m going to be where I’m supposed to be. Like I was Sunday night, like I was against San Francisco, like I was against the Packers. They say ‘Antrel Rolle got burned.’ No, Antrel Rolle didn’t get burned, Antrel Rolle was exactly where he was supposed to be. Know what the hell you’re talking about. There’s people watching on TV, the only thing they know is what the commentators are telling them.
“I’m not going to explain exactly what happened on that play but I can say I was in the right spot, I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Whether it was Corey Webster screwing up, whether it was somebody else it doesn’t matter. Just because I am the safety or Deon Grant is a safety or Kenny Phillips is a safety that doesn’t mean we’re always supposed to be back deep. ‘’
Animated and full of energy, Rolle was on a roll during the interview, unable to contain his excitement as he heaped praise on Eli Manning and Jason Pierre-Paul, the two players most responsible for carrying the Giants to a comeback victory inside Cowboys Stadium.
On Pierre-Paul: “All-around defensive lineman, I don’t see anybody playing at a higher level than him. I mean that across the league. This guy does so much for our football team. I don’t even think he realizes. He’s out there, he’s playing care-free, he’s doing what he’s supposed to do and then some. His motor is through the roof. This guy has been, he’s definitely the MVP of our defense, hands down. I don’t think anyone comes close. He’s been that dude. I must admit, I’m his biggest fan. I love watching that guy go to work, I love putting on the film and I’m like ‘Damn, look at that boy go to work’ and I love his attitude about it.
“He should definitely be in that Pro Bowl. I don’t know what’s going on with these fans voting but Jason Pierre-Paul definitely needs to be in Hawaii this year, but hopefully he’s not there this year because we’re in a better place. He’s a monster, he’s freakish. I laugh because I really don’t think he understands how good he is.’’
After praising kicker Lawrence Tynes, punter Steve Weatheford and the coverage on special teams, Rolle was just getting warmed up for Manning.
“I’m talking about that No. 10,’’ Rolle said. “That dude, man, you can say whatever you want to say about him, No. 26 is No. 10’s biggest fan. I’m like Deon, ‘I beeeelieeve in Eli.’ He’s saved us all year long, man. We definitely have to keep him out of those situations. That guy is clutch. I don’t care about giving him those compliments because I know Eli can handle that, he can handle anything. He might not be the rah-rah rally kind of guy, he might not be like me, he might not be as vocal as I am. But that dude is a leader, in and out, and when it’s on the line. There’s one interview I heard this year and that when I knew, I said ‘This dude got it.’ He was like ‘If the game is on the line I would rather have the ball in my hand than for them to have it in theirs.’ That tells me all I need to know about our quarterback.
“Our offense has been outstanding, they’ve been saving us. I can’t speak enough of how impressed I’ve been with the offense all year long, they’ve been saving us. The defense hasn’t been getting the job done., which is unacceptable.’’