EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Antrel Rolle wants the New York Giants to start being a little nastier, and not just the defense.
The veteran safety who tends to be the team's most outspoken player said Wednesday that the Giants (7-5) need to start showing the tenacity of one of those nasty dogs who is not out to make any friends.
"I don't think we have played dominant on a consistent basis," Rolle said Wednesday. "I think we can definitely go out there and have a little more dog in our system. Attack a lot more, be more physical at the point of attack and make plays when the opportunity presents itself."
The Giants have done that only twice this season, and both came in games against teams that are leading their divisions. They dominated San Francisco, 26-3, in mid-October, and made Green Bay look ordinary two weeks ago en route to a 38-10 win.
The rest of the season has been a series of ups and downs. The most recent was of the latter variety, a 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins Monday. The Giants shot themselves in the foot with nine penalties, and a failure to get a defensive stop late.
As such, the season has come down to four games for the defending Super Bowl champions. And now is the time to pick it up despite holding a one-game lead over Washington (6-6) and Dallas (6-6) in the NFC East.
The stretch run starts Sunday at MetLife Stadium against New Orleans (5-7), a desperate team that likely needs to win out to make the postseason.
Rolle not only wants to see the Giants be more physical, he wants them to play with an attitude -- the same kind of style they used last season in finishing with a six-game winning streak.
"This game is just as much mental as it is physical," Rolle said. "You got to give yourself an edge. You can't go in there, you know, praising this team, praising that team. You've already somewhat defeated yourself at that point."
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said Rolle is right on the mark, and that the defense has to step up.
"I think we're a little soft, but I think we'll get there," he said. "We haven't played our best game this year. I know that for a fact."
Pierre-Paul would not say specifically how the defense was soft, other than repeating the best is still to come.
"As a defense, we have to make a statement," he said. "We haven't made a statement ever since, I'll say, San Francisco. Well, I'm lying, because we did beat up on Green Bay quite a little bit. But, ever since then, we haven't made a statement. We've just been losing. And we're all not playing together. When you're a team, on an organization like this, you've got to play together as one.
"Otherwise, you'll keep going downhill."