If the Giants are going to build on their strong season and finally make it into the playoffs for the first time since 2011, they are going to have to do it without Jason Pierre-Paul.
The star defensive end underwent surgery Wednesday morning to repair a sports hernia and a groin injury he suffered in Sunday’s 24-14 loss in Pittsburgh. The surgery ends Pierre-Paul’s regular season, meaning the Giants will play their last four games without him.
The recovery time is expected to be at least six weeks, meaning Pierre-Paul will not be ready for the first round of the playoffs and most likely not be available until the NFC Championship Game, at the earliest. So, in effect, the Giants likely have seen the last of Pierre-Paul in 2016.
Now the Giants (8-4) have to try to hang onto their NFC wild-card spot without him.
The Giants hoped rest and rehab would be enough for Pierre-Paul, but after a visit in Philadelphia on Tuesday with Dr. William Meyers, a noted sports hernia surgeon, a determination was made that surgery was the best option. Meyers performed the surgery in Philadelphia.
The combination of Kerry Wynn, rookie Romeo Okwara and Owa Odighizuwa — once he returns from a knee injury — will attempt to take Pierre-Paul’s place at left defensive end.
“I think it’s gonna be a big challenge,’’ linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said. “The last couple of games he’s been playing better than anybody at any position.’’
Pierre-Paul was putting together a season worthy of Comeback Player of the Year attention. He has seven sacks — 5.5 in a recent two-game surge against the Bears and Browns — and has been his usual ball-chasing self against the run. His star-power form has returned, something that did not always appear possible after his horrific July 4 fireworks accident in the summer of 2015, an incident that left him with 3½ fingers on his right hand.
“We got guys behind him who I believe are going to do a really good job,’’ Casillas said. “But no one’s JPP, no one’s Jason Pierre-Paul, no one can really do the things that he can do for us or for anybody.’’