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Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis faces team that fired him

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ When the New York Giants meet on the eve of Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, linebacker Nick Greisen expects Tim Lewis to have a lot to say.

As the Giants' defensive coordinator, Lewis usually talks the night before every game.

This game is different, though. Not only are the Giants (5-8) trying to snap a six-game losing streak, the Steelers (12-1) are the team that fired Lewis as their defensive coordinator after last season.

Lewis hasn't indicated that the game means a lot to him, but Greisen and the rest of the defense know it does.

For a defensive coordinator to go from one team to another one, and now you are going to face them, it's definitely a big game,'' Greisen said.It's for his ego. You want your defense to outperform their defense.''

Neither Lewis nor Steelers coach Bill Cowher shed any light on why Lewis was fired at four seasons in Pittsburgh.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin does not allow his staff to speak with the media, so Lewis was not available for comment.

Cowher skirted the question on Wednesday, saying Lewis did a good job, but teams sometimes need to make changes.

With Dick LeBeau as its new defensive coordinator, the Steelers have the league's top-ranked defense.

I know deep down in Tim Lewis' heart he wants to win this one,'' Giants defensive tackle Norman Hand said.You always want to beat the guys you worked for. Deep down, he might say it means a lot, but I know it means a lot.''

Safety Brent Alexander, who played for the Steelers for the past four years before signing with the Giants, said Lewis probably is focused on finding ways to stop the Steelers rather than personal satisfaction.

His key this week will be to prevent Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley from running wild against the Giants decimated defensive line.

Defensive ends Michael Strahan and Keith Washington are out for the season with injuries, and Hand might miss his second straight game with a groin injury.

In the past four weeks, Giants' opponents have averaged 183.3 yards rushing due in large part to bad tackling and missed assignments.

The Steelers, who are looking for a team-record 12th straight win, are second in the NFL in rushing, averaging 151.1 yards.

``We got a couple of different things that we are going to do that should help us out this week,'' Greisen added with a smile. He would not elaborate.

While Lewis is very familiar with the Steelers, Bettis said Pittsburgh's coaching staff knows what to expect from Lewis, too.

You're a creature of habit,'' Bettis said.What you see on the tape, you're going to get a semblance of that. We probably won't get what they've been doing to everybody else, but we'll get a wrinkle that he comes up with and you have to deal with it and go forward.''

It will be interesting to see whether Lewis is in the press box or on the field on Saturday. He has been in the press box all season.

He knows our calls and stuff so we'll have to be on our toes and have some dummy stuff,'' Steelers linebacker James Farrior said.We'll have to change it up a little bit.''

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