The Buccaneers play in primetime two days after Halloween, but that won't deter Jason Pierre-Paul from his goal of being a nightmare for the Giants' O-line on Monday Night Football.
Far too often, we see players downplay meetings against their former team. Pierre-Paul, who was something of an off-Broadway star in New York from 2010-17, made it clear that, for him, the upcoming matchup has top-billing status stamped all over it.
"This game definitely means something special to me," Pierre-Paul told reporters Friday, via the team's official website, before detailing how injuries impacted his previous two calendar dates with Big Blue.
In his first meeting against the Giants in 2018, JPP said he entered the game nursing two injured MCLs, which he sustained in the season opener. He tallied 1.5 sacks and seven tackles, and played 92 percent of the snaps in a 38-35 road loss. When the teams met in Tampa early last season, Pierre-Paul was out due to a neck fracture he sustained in a car accident in May. The Bucs also lost that one, 32-31.
"I finally get to play them this year, I'm fully healed and I'm ready to go," he said. "I'm trying to see what I can do. I already know what I'm going to do, but I want to see what I can do."
For a dominant defensive player with as detailed an injury history as JPP's, the idea of him declaring he's 100% is pretty wild. So far in 2020, the two-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XLVI champion has certainly looked the part, accruing 5.5 sacks, 21 tackles and three forced fumbles in his third season with the Bucs.
When Pierre-Paul takes the field against his old buddies on MNF, it'll be his first time facing the man who replaced Eli Manning, the future Hall of Famer he won that ring with in 2011. Having already allowed 20 sacks in 2020, it would behoove the Giants to pay even closer attention to an uber-motivated JPP to ensure he doesn't add to those totals.
"I'm happy to play Daniel Jones. Eli's not there no more, so I won't have to pick him up and say, 'Eli, man, you good?' I'm coming for their necks, man, they know that, and Jason Pierre-Paul ain't going nowhere. I'm going to Monday Night Football and going to destroy the Giants. That's what I want to do as an individual, but I still have love for them," he said with a smile.
It's been over two years since New York traded the former All-Pro in a blockbuster move intended to help further along their rebuild. His numbers over the past two seasons (21.0 sacks, 72 tackles in 26 games) soon made that decision look questionable, to say the least. When asked by NFL Network's Kimberly Jones if he's trying to prove his ex-team made a mistake, No. 90 provided a very sure answer.
"You already know they made a mistake," he said. "... It's not that I'm trying to show them they made a mistake; it's just the fact that I know that I wasn't washed up or finished up. So, this [Monday], I have to show them, you know? It's my old team, and we've got to show them the new Tampa Bay Buccaneers."
If the "new" Bucs, as JPP stated, come out looking like they have for much of the season, it's hard to imagine his second homecoming won't be a glorious one.