Amazing. That is really the only way to describe the performance by Jason Pierre-Paul Sunday in his return to action following his July 4 fireworks accident.
Pierre-Paul played 46 snaps (though unofficial counts vary) and had two tackles, two hits on Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston and was unofficially credited with five pressures. With Tampa Bay trying to come back in the fourth quarter, Pierre-Paul was a constant force as a pass rusher. He didn't sack Winston, but he was in the backfield on a number of occasions.
Head coach Tom Coughlin admitted that Pierre-Paul played more than anticipated and "probably more than he should have."
Coughlin, though pointed to Pierre-Paul's conditioning and the fact that he made an impact on Tampa Bay's final drive.
"He made a couple of outstanding rushes, particularly at the end there," Coughlin said. "He's just going to get better and better."
Pierre-Paul played with a club on his damaged right hand. He was used almost exclusively at the right defensive end spot, and played using his left hand on the ground in a three-point stance, a change from how he used to play.
"JPP was a presence after just two weeks of practice," said Giants quarterback Eli Manning. "He was definitely disruptive tonight."
With Pierre-Paul in the lineup the Giants generated more pressure than they have much of the season. They never sacked the Tampa Bay quarterback, but were credited with nine hits on Winston.
"It felt great. I had fun out there. Just to be with my teammates it felt great." - JPP— New York Giants (@Giants) November 9, 2015
"When it comes to the fourth quarter you have to give everything you've got." - JPP— New York Giants (@Giants) November 9, 2015
"I'm a little rusty in areas. I'm going to watch film and see where I can get better and get ready for New England." - JPP— New York Giants (@Giants) November 9, 2015
In our look at Pierre-Paul prior to the game, analysts expected him to play 15-20 snaps and weren't sure how much impact he could have. Amazingly, Pierre-Paul told reporters he felt better in the fourth quarter than he did early in the game.
I think what we saw, though, is that Pierre-Paul can still be a force despite his damaged hand.