Justin Tuck, 12.16.09

[NOTE: This conference call was with Washington media]

Q. The defense has not played the way you are used to playing the last few weeks. What do you think has happened to you guys since the first five games of the year?

A. Played better teams I guess, I don’t know. Sometimes things like this happen in this league. It’s evident that we haven’t played our best. Obviously if you look at the little things that you want to do in a playoff hunt, we have to find a way to turn it around.

Q. How much is it missing Antonio Pierce and how much is it you just haven’t played as well as you’re accustomed to?

A. I think it is a little bit of both. Teams are doing a great job of taking away what we want to do in certain situations and finding ways to combat that. Obviously we miss 58; Antonio, he is the leader of this defense, like a coach on the football field. That was a tough blow but the fact of the matter was when he was healthy we were already at this point, too. So I don’t know how much you can put on it that AP is not here. The fact is that somewhere or somehow we kind of got off pace as far as what we have been known for and what we normally do on defense.

Q. Are you guys now in must-win territory?

A. I think so. You never want to put that pressure on yourself especially when they say we can still make the playoffs even if we don’t win all three of these. For me personally, I think that we are because of the fact that we haven’t played great ball. Even if we do make the playoffs, you don’t want to go into the playoffs limping. You want to go in with the confidence, knowing that you kind of righted the ship and are playing your best ball at that point in time. I think for us it’s important to win these next three.

Q. As discouraging as the earlier losses might have been, once you beat the Cowboys then you were ahead of the Eagles at a point in the game. How disheartening was the loss?

A. It’s tough because we knew Dallas had lost and we knew that us winning the game against Philadelphia would kind of put us in the driver’s seat of being number one in the division. Given what we went through the last couple of weeks and how bad we played in some games this year, we were still pretty much sitting where we wanted to be. It’s disheartening, especially after our offense fought back and after that we gave them 14 points there. They did a good job fighting back. The play from (Donavan) McNabb to DeSean (Jackson) kind of (took the wind out of our sails). It’s hard that we had our chances. I think we played with a lot of enthusiasm, we played hard, but sometimes things just don’t work your way.

Q. The play that took the wind out of your sails, what play are you talking about?

A. After we took the lead 31 to 30, I think the next play McNabb goes up top to DeSean.

Q. Over the years since you have been there, the pass rush has been probably one of the best in the league. According to the stats, you guys don’t have the pressures and sacks that you had in recent years. What do you attribute that to?

A. I am biased because I know for a fact the offenses are doing a great job of max protecting. We have had quarterbacks that made an emphasis of getting the ball out of their hands early. Things like that, which shortens up their routes. The fact of the matter is we haven’t gotten the job done up front. What the reason is, I can’t pin-point it, but we just have to get a way to get the pressure back because that takes a lot of pressure off our secondary or our linebackers in coverage and things like that. We have to do a better job, point blank.

Q. What’s the mood in the locker room? Do you guys think you can still make it or are people pretty down?

A. No, we are not down, we are down that first day after the game but once we go back to work it’s business as usual. That’s how we approach it. This team has always had high spirits about whatever situation we have been in. We realize that we have played great ball this year and for some reason or another, we just can’t find a consistency that we have had in past years. I think all of us are anxious and we know it’s possible that we can play together here. If we do that, then we can be one of those dangerous teams that are being overlooked. We are not down, we are excited about this week and hopefully we can go out and get a win.

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