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News » Between a rock and a hard place

Between a rock and a hard place

Between a rock and a hard place
In Switzerland earlier this fall, physicists and engineers gathered underneath a mountain and flicked a switch to turn on the Large Hadron Collider. The belief was that by running tiny particles into each other at nearly the speed of light, they could create something close to a Big Bang. Some even feared that such subnuclear activity could create a black hole.

There seems to be similar excitement about the pending collision of Brandon Jacobs and Ray Lewis. Two of the hardest hitters at their position are sure to come into contact with each other at some point during Sunday's game between the Giants and the Ravens. Will it produce Newtonian ripples in the fabric of the universe? No. But it will make for compelling theater.

And just like the Large Hadron Collider, there are some who would rather the impact not occur.

"Hopefully there's not one," guard Rich Seubert said of the potential pileup. "Hopefully we're blocking Lewis and there's not a collision."

Don't count Jacobs and Lewis among those hoping for that, though. Each of them spoke on Wednesday about the prospect of facing each other.

"What are you going to do, run from it?" Lewis said about facing the 264-pound Jacobs. "No, you just play Football. I don't look on the schedule and look at somebody's weight and say, 'Oh, guess what, he's 260, I can't run into him.' Hell no. I'm chasing him. It doesn't matter. Size has never mattered in this game."

Jacobs, who is friendly with Lewis off the field, said the Ravens' future Hall of Famer plays linebacker the way Jacobs would if he played that position.

"A downhill, hard-hitting player and nothing more, nothing less," Jacobs said. "He wants to establish the game right away and he's good at doing that. I think his career has been pretty good and I have a lot of respect for Ray and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

The game isn't just a one-on-one tackling drill between Jacobs and Lewis. It's also a No. 1-on-No. 1 matchup between the top rushing team in the NFL and the top run stoppers. The last time that happened? Dec. 15, 2002, when the offense won the battle -- the Chiefs ran for 185 yards against the Broncos -- but not the game. Denver held on in that one, 31-24.

So Derrick Ward and Terrell Suggs and Chris Snee and Haloti Ngata will have as much to say about the outcome of this game. The Giants are confident they cannot only emulate those 2002 Chiefs in rushing yardage but reverse their fortune.

"We play to see who is the most dominant and I truly believe we are going to win that battle because we have so much pride in what we do as far as running the ball," Ward said. "Everybody knows we have a run-first offense. We have great faith in our offensive line and we have the backs to get the job done."

But all eyes will be on Jacobs and Lewis, the two heavyweights with knockout punches at their disposal. Lewis ended the season of Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall when a collision broke the rookie's shoulder. "Ray is a hard-hitting guy," Jacobs said.

Lewis did say he has a lot of respect for Jacobs and the entire Giants' running game. He said he's watched tape of previous games and has been impressed by the offensive line. "You see these backs, they're running through holes so big, you're sitting there saying 'What in the world?'" he said. "You're like OK, I got to move onto another film because I got to at least see somebody [stop them]."

He also said he sees his job as standing between Jacobs and the smaller defensive backs behind him.

"As a middle linebacker, you don't want to have them get to your secondary like you see the Eagles and a lot of people did," he said. "I don't think that's an even match. But when you're dealing with the front seven in there where linebackers meet running backs and fullbacks and things, then let it take care of itself. Our job is not to let him get to our secondary because he can be an imposing threat back there."

Ultimately, no matter how many times they crumple each others' face masks, the game is between two teams and not two players.

"They like to run the ball, we like to stop the run," Lewis said. "That's the bottom-line fact. That's what they do well, that's what we do well."

And it may result in something closer to a Big Bang than what the Large Hadron Collider has yet to produce.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 16, 2008

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