By Michael McCarthy
Eagles’ DE Connor Barwin handed Giants’ right tackle Justin Pugh his head so often in Sunday’s 27-0 beatdown by the Eagles that Pugh is now:
Sleepless in East Rutherford.
Pugh laid in bed restless, visions of Barwin treating him like a human turnstile in his head.
“I wasn’t sure if I was having a nightmare. I’m like, ‘Did that really just happen?'” Pugh told the Newark Star-Ledger. “It’s something where I let it snowball, it was more mental than anything. I let it get to me and you can’t do that, you can’t let it snowball, and that’s something that I’ve been [focusing on] this week.”
To be fair, the entire offensive line did not play well on Sunday night, but Pugh was the main culprit, allowed six sacks, including three to Barwin, who is not known for his pass-rushing ability.
Perhaps contributing to his nightmare-filled sleep on Sunday night, Pugh took a look at the tape of his performance on his iPad when he got home, noticing that his aforementioned mental breakdowns led to poor technique. He found himself off-balance way too often.
Pugh also spoke to some of his former college teammates, who helped remind him of the player that he is capable of being.
“They were like, ‘Look, man, you’re where you are for a reason, you’ve played 18 games, you’ve played well, you know what you were doing,'” Pugh said.
Pugh was reminded that he has had tough games before, in particular a game against the Carolina Panthers in which their star defensive end, Charles Johnson, got the best of him. So why was he giving himself such a hard time about the Eagles game?
“Because it was more sacks that was let up. I just didn’t play well overall,” he said. “Carolina, I did some good things with technique and Charles Johnson just kicked my [butt], but this one hurts because I had played against him before, played well against the Eagles before. I thought I had the ability to do it again.”
A Philly product who went to Council Rock High before Syracuse, Pugh was asked whether having so many close friends and family talking to him about the game all week and bugging him for tickets might have affected him mentally.
“That whole week, dealing with me being from Philadelphia, me having to get tickets for everybody, everyone’s calling me, texting me. I told my parents, ‘The next time we play Philly, I’m turning my phone off for the week, I’m not talking to anybody about it. You guys deal with getting tickets on your own, I’ll talk to you guys next week.’ And that’s just the way I’ve gotta approach it. I can’t let outside distractions get in the way of getting my job done.”
He added that his confidence is “sky-high right now,” in part owing to the support he’s received from his coaches and teammates this week.
“I had 18 games before this where I played some quality football,” Pugh said. “Obviously, I’ve had my ups and downs. It’s just one of those things where you learn from it and get better, and that’s the mark of a true professional.”