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Michael Strahan, left, and fellow defensive end Osi Umenyiora have combined for 22 of the Giants' 53 sacks this season. The Giants got only one on Tom Brady.
PHOENIX - Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, with his sprained right ankle, has had some trouble running away from the paparazzi, but he does a pretty good job of avoiding the pass rush.
"I mean, it's like he's on ice skates back there," Giants defensive end Michael Strahan said. "The way he moves around in the pocket. Very smooth, very natural."
But the big icebreaker in today's Super Bowl XLII will be the Giants defensive line against the Patriots offensive line.
New York led the NFL with 53 sacks behind a relentless pass rush headed by Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck.
The Patriots have surrounded Brady with three of five offensive linemen who are headed to the Pro Bowl - center Dan Koppen, left tackle Matt Light and left guard Logan Mankins. As a result, Brady was only sacked 21 times during the regular season.
"How much pressure we put on Brady will be the biggest factor in the game," Strahan said.
Need proof? Just consider the Patriots' 38-35 win over the Giants in Week 17. Brady was hit a few times but only sacked once in completing 32 of 42 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps just as important, the Patriots were without right tackle Nick Kaczur and right guard Stephen Neal in that game.
Umenyiora led the Giants with 13 sacks. Strahan had nine and Tuck, who rushes from a tackle position on passing downs, finished with 10.
"They are the best defensive line we've faced," Koppen said. "They have a great combination of physicalness, athletic ability and smarts. It will be a tremendous challenge."
The key for the Giants will be putting the Patriots in poor down-and-distance situations. In games in which Brady has been sacked at least three times, his quarterback rating has sunk into the 70s.
"If somebody gets the sack, the other guys want to get two," Strahan said. "We compete against each other, and that's why I think we've had the season we've had together. We know that we can be all great players individually, but we're better together."
But Brady likes working out of the shotgun and has one of the quickest releases in pro football.
"He's one of the better quarterbacks in the league as far as getting the ball out of his hands in a rhythm," Tuck said. "He knows exactly where he wants to go with the football before the ball is even snapped, so that makes it difficult for D-linemen to pressure him."