Oct 312006

New York Giants Sign LB Chris Claiborne: The Giants have signed unrestricted free agent LB Chris Claiborne. Claiborne is a former first-round draft pick who has played with the Lions, Vikings, and Rams.

According to the Giants’ official press release, the team will announce additional roster moves tomorrow.

October 30, 2006 New York Giants Injury Report: WLB Brandon Short suffered a quad injury against the Buccaneers. “Short is going to have tests (Monday) afternoon,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin yesterday.

Coughlin said HB Brandon Jacobs (hyperextended knee) had “normal wear and tear,” but should be fine.

When Coughlin was asked about DE Osi Umenyiora (hip flexor) and CB Sam Madison (hamstring), both of whom did not play against Tampa Bay, he replied, “They’re better. They’re improving. Hopefully maybe the next 24 hours will tell us something different, but right now it would be questionable at best.”

Speaking of Umenyiora and DE Justin Tuck (foot – did not play against Bucs), Coughlin said, “Both of them have made progress – there’s no question. They’re much more comfortable and much more mobile, but as far as what their status will be, we’ll wait.”

Regarding WR Sinorice Moss (quad), who also did not play, Coughlin said, “For a week he’s been held out of everything again, having had a (another) setback (last week). Now he’s going to be returning to the individual part, at least, of practice, and we’ll see where it goes. I’d like to see him get through this progression and be able to keep going, rather than having the setback that has occurred.”

LB LaVar Arrington, who is on Injured Reserve, did have surgery on his Achilles tendon. “He had surgery on Friday,” said Coughlin. “He did very well. He came home Sunday morning. I talked with him on a couple of occasions. He’s very interested in what’s going on with the team. He wanted to come to the game and they decided that wasn’t such a good idea, but they feel good about the surgery.”

Quotes: CB Sam Madison on the defensive improvement since the bye week: “We really haven’t adjusted anything. Everybody had to understand what they needed to do and just get it done. Since the bye week, guys have gone out and played their positions instead of trying to play somebody else’s position and trying to make adjustments for somebody else. Everybody has learned…where they’re supposed to fit in the run game, where they’re supposed to drop in the pass.”

QB Eli Manning on what he learned about playing in the windy Meadowlands last Sunday: “What routes you can throw, what plays you can run and are easy to throw, what are some tougher things to do. As a quarterback you’re a coordinator of your offense, have to figure out what you can do. We threw a lot of curl routes, any throw when you can line-drive it and throw it hard and it comes out a spiral it’s not going to be affected too much by the wind. If you have to put some touch on it, throw it down the field, that wind will start blowing it, it will knock it down, it can make it go and they fly too far…You have to manage the situations and understand what’s going on in the game. Do you have to be aggressive and take chances? Do you have to play smart and conservative? You’ve got to understand the circumstances; how your defense is playing and how the conditions are. It’s a matter of not taking risks if you don’t have to.”

WR Plaxico Burress on changing his on-field demeanor when things do not go well in the passing game: “I was looking at tapes of myself (in the offseason), looking at my body language and evaluating myself. I said, ‘That’s something I need to get rid of.’ It showed me I was getting down on my quarterback. That’s something I don’t want to do. It’s something I’m trying to eliminate from my game. If I drop a ball or he makes a bad pass, we’ll go to the sideline and straighten it out over there. Don’t try to show him up. I don’t get frustrated any more with Eli. That’s over and done with. I come to the sideline and say, ‘Look at this if we get this look next time.’ I don’t get upset any more. It’s one of those things where I made an effort not to. He’s my quarterback. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I know he’s trying to get the football to me the best that he can. It’s an 11-man chain. Everybody is working together to be successful. If he makes a bad throw or I drop one, there’s pretty much the same from each other – (we say), ‘All right man, I messed up, let’s get it next time.’ I think we have that respect for each other. Whatever happens, happens. We just go out and try to be successful.”

Oct 292006

Defense Leads Giants to 17-3 Victory Over Buccaneers: The Giants have got it going now. On an exceptionally windy day at the Meadowlands, the Giants got just enough offense to complement an excellent defensive performance en route to a 17-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Giants are now 5-2 and remain all-alone in first place in the NFC East.

The defense held the Buccaneers to a measly 40 net yards rushing, 134 net yards passing (on 50 passing attempts if you include the sacks), and 10 first downs despite missing three defensive starters (LB LaVar Arrington, CB Sam Madison, and DE Osi Umenyiora). On top of that, LB Brandon Short left the game in the second quarter with a quad injury.

Though the Giants’ offense struggled for much of the game, New York did not turn the football over against an opportunistic defense in weather best-suited for defensive football. Still, the Giants only managed 143 net passing yards, 108 net rushing yards, and 16 first downs. The Giants were also a woeful 3-of-14 on third down conversion attempts and 0-1 on fourth down.

The wind was definitely an issue for both teams.

“This is the first time I have played in a game where the wind affected your play calling,” said QB Eli Manning, who completed 16-of-31 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown. “Even though they were putting eight guys in the box, we were forced to run. It was one of those days where you had to just tough it out. We have had a few practice days where it has been windy, so we know how to work with it. You have to just throw it the same way and hope it gets there. By the start of the fourth quarter, we were in the huddle and I was trying to call plays and you see guys losing their footing. It got bad there late.”

“It was a windy day and they knew that we were going to run the ball,” said LT Luke Petitgout. “(The Buccaneers) are a fast defense that moves a lot. They played a good game defensively. We have to throw the ball, though, because you can’t just run the ball every play. We just had to hope we could take our shots and hope that the wind wouldn’t pick up too much when we were passing. The wind doesn’t affect me, but I definitely know it is going to affect our quarterback and receivers. It was definitely a factor in the outcome of this game today. But it was there for both teams. This is a tough place to play especially when the wind kicks up.”

“The wind played a significant factor in today’s game because we couldn’t get the ball downfield for two quarters because we were into the wind in second quarter,” said HB Tiki Barber, who carried by ball 26 times for just 68 yards. “(The Buccaneers) took the wind in the third quarter. And so we were limited to just running the ball and fortunately, as is the concept of a team game, our defense played great and held them and allowed us as an offense to just shovel along and ground up yardage and ground up the clock. We had a big win. They used their advantage by putting eight or nine guys in the box at all times trying to stop our run – which has been huge for us the last three weeks. You have to give them credit for that. We were fortunate enough to get the turnover and score on a big drive in the first quarter to get us down close and give us enough points to win.”

The Giants took a 7-0 lead on their second possession of the game as New York drove 53 yards in eight plays. The drive culminated with a great 7-yard touchdown reception by WR Plaxico Burress who made a one-handed reception with his left hand.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay offense went nowhere with five consecutive three-and-outs to start the game. The Giants could not pick up a single first down on the next two possessions after their touchdown. After a punt from the Tampa 3-yard line gave the Giants excellent field position at the Bucs’ 41-yard line in the second quarter, the Giants only managed one first down before turning the ball over on downs at the Tampa 28-yard line. However, on the very next snap, the Buccaneers fumbled away a pitch to the halfback and DT Fred Robbins recovered, giving the Giants the ball at the 28 again. Manning found Burress for 25 yards (had it not been for the wind, this probably would have been a touchdown). Two plays later, HB Brandon Jacobs scored from one yard out to give the Giants a 14-0 lead.

The only Tampa Bay points on the day came at the end of the first half, after a neutral zone infraction by David Tyree gave the Bucs a first down on what should have been another three-and-out. Instead after 13 plays and only 34 yards gained, the Buccaneers managed a 43-yard field goal. The Giants led 14-3 at halftime.

The second half was a non-descript affair with the only points by either team being a 31-yard field goal by PK Jay Feely in the fourth quarter. The Giants only managed one first down on each of their three possessions in the third quarter. Tampa picked up one first down on their first drive of the second half, then punted. After a mediocre 32-yard punt into the wind by the Giants and a 16-yard punt return, the Bucs started their second drive at the Giants’ 48-yard line. Tampa Bay decided to go for it on 4th-and-6 from 44-yard line. They completed an 8-yard pass for what looked to be a first down, but MLB Antonio Pierce forced a fumble. While the Bucs recovered, the ball was turned over on downs. Tampa tried to convert again on 4th down on their next offensive possession. After Pierce stopped a 3rd-and-1 running effort for no gain at the Giants’ 32-yard line, the ensuing 4th-and-1 pass by the Buccaneers fell incomplete.

Both teams then exchanged three-and-outs in the fourth quarter. Finally, the Giants managed to string together enough positive plays to move the football 54 yards in 12 plays to take a 17-3 lead with less than four minutes to play. Both teams then exchanged three-and-outs again. The Bucs attempted one last desperate drive, but it stalled at the Giants’ 21-yard line when a 4th-and-10 pass fell incomplete with less than 30 seconds in the game.

Post-Game Notes: WLB Brandon Short suffered a quad strain in the second quarter and did not return. Short was replaced by rookie Gerris Wilkinson.

Inactive for the Giants were DE Osi Umenyiora (hip flexor), DE Justin Tuck (foot), CB Sam Madison (hamstring), CB Frank Walker (hamstring), WR Sinorice Moss (quad), OT Guy Whimper, OT Na’Shan Goddard, and QB Tim Hasselbeck (third quarterback).

The Giants recognized the 50th anniversary of the 1956 NFL championship team at halftime. Twelve players from that team were on the field and introduced to the crowd: Ben Agajanian, Frank Gifford, Herb Rich, Alex Webster, Ray Beck, Sam Huff, Gerald Huth, Ken McAfee, Andy Robustelli, Harland Svare, Bob Schnelker, and Cliff Livinston.

BigBlueInteractive.com Referenced in New York Times Article: For those who have not seen it, BigBlueIntearctive.com was referenced in a Sunday New York Times article by John Branch. Click here to see the article entitled “The Giants’ Barber Is Ready to Move On. Some Fans Are Not.” Our thanks to Mr. Branch for the plug!!!

Oct 282006

October 27, 2006 New York Giants Injury Report: The Journal News is reporting that LB LaVar Arrington underwent surgery to repair his torn left Achilles’ tendon at Manhattan’s Hospital for Special Surgery. Arrington is on Injured Reserve and will miss the rest of the season.

DE Osi Umenyiora (hip flexor), DE Justin Tuck (foot), CB Sam Madison (hamstring), LB Brandon Short (surgically-repaired knee), and WR Sinorice Moss (quad) did not practice yesterday. Short is “probable” for the game against the Buccaneers on Sunday, Moss will not play, and the other three players remain “questionable.” Newsday is reporting that Madison said he will play. However, other press reports state that Madison is not expected to play.

There are conflicting reports from the Giants and the press about whether or not CB Frank Walker (hamstring) practiced yesterday. Head Coach Tom Coughlin said Walker did not practice, but the Giants.com injury report suggests that he did. Various newspaper reports say both as well.

WR Plaxico Burress (heel), LB Carlos Emmons (pectoral muscle), S Jason Bell (concussion), and HB Derrick Ward (foot) all practiced again. Emmons and Bell have been upgraded to “probable.” Burress remains “probable” and Ward “questionable” for the game.

Article on DT Fred Robbins: Giants Defensive Tackle Finds Role, and the Ball by Dave Caldwell of The New York Times

Notes and Quotes: The Journal News is reporting that if CB Sam Madison and CB Frank Walker don’t play, R.W. McQuarters will start at right corner and Kevin Dockery will play the nickel.

WR Plaxico Burress on the windy conditions expected at Giants Stadium on Sunday: “I definitely wasn’t too thrilled to hear (the forecast). We all know the weather’s going to change up here eventually. Now we’ll just have to get some 10-, 15-yard catches and turn them into 40-yard gains instead of throwing it deep.”

QB Eli Manning on the expected windy conditions: “I haven’t had a bad wind game, never a brutal wind game. You can’t change the way you throw, you can’t change your fundamentals or the way you grip it or throw it, you’ve just got to be confident in your throws and understand some deep stuff, and other things, you’ve got to be careful throwing.”

Oct 272006

New York Giants Place LaVar Arrington on IR; Sign DE Adrian Awasom to Active Roster: As expected, the Giants have placed LB LaVar Arrington (torn Achilles tendon) on Injured Reserve, officially ending his season. To fill his roster spot, the Giants have signed Adrian Awasom from the Practice Squad.

New York Giants Sign Cornerback to the Practice Squad: To fill DE Adrian Awasom’s spot, the Giants signed CB Dennis Davis to the Practice Squad. Davis was originally signed by the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2006 NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech. The Raiders released him at the end of August.

Injury Update: DE Osi Umenyiora (hip flexor), DE Justin Tuck (foot), CB Sam Madison (hamstring), and WR Sinorice Moss (quad) did not practice yesterday. All remain “questionable” for the game against the Buccaneers on Sunday.

LB Carlos Emmons (pectoral muscle), S Jason Bell (concussion), CB Frank Walker (hamstring), and HB Derrick Ward (foot) practiced. All four players remain “questionable” for the game.

WR Plaxico Burress (heel) practiced and remains “probable.” “He worked today some,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He’s still a little bit sore.”

Notes: Head Coach Tom Coughlin said Carlos Emmons will start at strongside linebacker, but that Reggie Torbor should play some as well.

Oct 262006

Approach to the Game – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants, October 29, 2006: If the Giants want to become one of the better teams in the NFL, they must re-assert control over Giants Stadium. They were on their way to doing that last season with an 8-1 home record during the regular season, but the playoff loss to the Panthers and the season opening loss to the Colts means that the Giants are 1-2 in their last three home games. The Giants never really have had that aura about them that another team can’t beat them in their house. They did go undefeated at home in 1986, but that was about the extent of it. Head Coach Tom Coughlin, his staff, and the players should make an all-out effort to build a tradition that teams can’t expect to come into Giants Stadium and leave with a win. This would have a direct bearing on the current season as six of the last 10 regular season games are home games. Win all six, and the Giants are guaranteed of at least a 10-win season.

The Buccaneers are not as good as the Giants. But they are not as good as the Eagles or Bengals either, and yet they beat both of those teams. Yes, the Giants have them at home, but New York just came through a tough and physical three-game stretch and now has some serious injury concerns (though the Bucs have also come through a tough stretch and have their own injury issues too). Tampa almost beat the 5-1 Saints on the road. New York cannot afford to take Tampa Bay lightly. It would be a damn shame if the Giants diminish or waste what they have accomplished by not coming out and knocking the snot out of the Buccaneers. Don’t blow it Giants…get to 5-2!

Giants on Defense: The Buccaneers are not strong on offense. It’s their defense that keeps them in games. But injuries at defensive end (Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck) and cornerback (Sam Madison, Frank Walker) could cause some problems for the Giants. As always, but especially against this opponent, the key for the Giants will be to shut down the run. The Buccaneers are averaging less than 100 yards rushing per game, but HB Cadillac Williams (last year’s “NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year”) is quite capable of putting up big numbers. The Buccaneers have a very big and physical offensive line, but they are inexperienced. The Bucs are likely to test DE Mathias Kiwanuka in run defense for much of the game. The strength of Kiwanuka’s game is not his play against the run. Moreover, he has not played a full game since college so his endurance will also be tested. He will be matched up against LT Anthony Davis. The good news for New York is that Davis struggles in pass protection at times. The right side is inexperienced with rookies – first-rounder RG Davin Joseph and second-rounder RT Jeremy Trueblood. Trueblood is a tough player, but his is a match-up that should favor the Giants with DE Michael Strahan. If inspired to play well, the Giants should present all kinds of problems for Tampa up front, especially if the bring some blitzes and stunts against the right-side of the offensive line.

With LaVar Arrington out for the season, Carlos Emmons will likely start again at his more natural strongside position. The trio of Emmons, Antonio Pierce, and Brandon Short should be rock-solid against the run, but the opposition might try to exploit this slower group in coverage. The Bucs are a West Coast offense and they will throw to the backs (Williams, Michael Pittman, Mike Alstott) and the tight ends (Anthony Becht – who is “questionable” with a foot injury, Alex Smith, and Doug Jolley).

At receiver, Joey Galloway is still a deep threat. Much depends on if CB Sam Madison (hamstring) plays and how healthy he is. If Madison is still hurt, this could be a bad match-up for the Giants. (Keep in mind that Frank Walker is also ailing with a hamstring). Corey Webster will be familiar with his former college teammate, WR Michael Clayton. Former Giant Ike Hilliard is the third receiver. You know he would like to make an impact against his former team.

The quarterback is rookie Bruce Gradkowski, who has been an improvement over injured Chris Simms. Gradkowski can hurt you with his arm and feet. The Giants obviously need to mix up their coverages to confuse the inexperienced player. By doing this and generating heat on the quarterback, mistakes should result.

Stop the run. Defend the short throws to the backs and tight ends and the deep passes to Galloway. Mix up your coverages and get after Gradkowski.

Giants on Offense: Run, run, run. Tampa Bay, while a quite capable defensive team, has had issues against the run this year. The Giants should hit them with a heavy dose of the ground game. The good news is that RDE Simeon Rice is not a good run defender and the Giants run very well to their left. Rice has also been bothered by a shoulder injury that makes him “questionable” for the game. But New York should test the middle and the right as well. Give them a heavy dose of Tiki Barber and Brandon Jacobs. Don’t get too cute.

The Giants need a good game out of Luke Petitgout against Rice, especially when the Giants do put the ball up. Rice is one of the game’s best pass rushers. The left end is Greg Spires. Reserve defensive end Dewayne White can also rush the passer. Chris Hovan and Ellis Wyms are the tackles. This is a smaller line that tries to rely on their quickness to disrupt running plays. The Giants should play smash-mouth with them and maul them with their bigger offensive line. Wyms has been bothered by an ankle injury and is “questionable” for the game.

The Tampa Bay linebackers are smaller but active. WLB Derrick Brooks has been a good player for a long time. Shelton Quarles is an undersized middle linebacker and Ryan Nece lacks bulk on the strongside too. Don’t try to out-quick these guys – run right at them. Because they are quicker players, they are pretty good in coverage.

Tampa runs a variation of the Cover 2 pass defense that is actually called the Tampa Cover 2. It was pioneered by Tony Dungy. While the normal Cover 2 has each linebacker or cornerback covering about 1/5th the width of the field while the safeties are responsible for each deep half, the Tampa 2 pulls the middle linebacker into deep zone coverage as well, similar to a Cover 3. What this does is allows the safeties to have to cover less ground, so they can cover the traditional soft zone past the corners more effectively. Since the middle linebacker drops into coverage to watch the center of the field, the four men underneath each cover about 25% the width of the field each. Speed at linebacker is so important here because they need to cover more ground than linebackers are normally used to covering. If Jeremy Shockey can wiggle free of the linebackers, he may have some opportunities against this coverage. Same with Tiki Barber.

One of the more interesting match-ups will be WR Plaxico Burress against CB Ronde Barber, who virtually single-handily beat the Eagles last week with two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Barber is not the biggest or fastest player, but he is very smart and savvy and understands his responsibilities in this defense to a tee. He will bait quarterbacks into making bad throws and Eli Manning has to be very wary of this. That said, Burress does have a size-speed advantage over Barber and the Giants should not ignore that. I’d take some deep shots against those safeties.

The Giants may have some opportunities on the other side too. Left corner Brian Kelly was placed on Injured Reserve. His back-up, CB Juran Bolden, is “questionable” with a hip injury. There may be some opportunities for Tim Carter here too with Tampa’s depth in the secondary becoming an issue. When the Bucs play their nickel package, Barber moves inside and Torrie Cox plays outside.

That all said, run, run, run. And protect the football. If the Giants don’t turn the football over, they should win this football game.

Giants on Special Teams: Former Giant PK Matt Bryant just kicked a 62-yarder to beat the Eagles. Former Giant Mark Jones is the punt returner. He is elusive, but small, and he is bothered by a hamstring injury. If he can’t go, Phillip Buchanon will return punts. Michael Pittman is the kick returner. The Giants really need to get their own kickoff return game going.

Oct 262006
New York Giants 36 – Dallas Cowboys 22

Game Overview: I’m a little bit wary of highlighting what the Giants have accomplished because I am superstitious when it comes to football and I don’t want the Giants or their fans to relax one bit. The Buccaneers and Texans have proved they are quite capable of toppling good football teams. And injuries are once again becoming an issue. But I do think it is important to take stock of the big picture.

If you asked most Giants fans before the season started if they would take a 4-2 start with games against the Colts, Eagles, Seahawks, Redskins, Falcons, and Cowboys, they would have said, “Hell yeah!” Keep in mind that four of the first six games were “away” games. In other words, the Giants have already played half their road games. Six of their last 10 games will be at home. And they are not only in first place in the NFC East, but are 3-0 in the division. And two of those three division wins were on the road against their two most formidable division rivals.

From a team perspective, let’s look at the overall picture. Through six games, who are the 2006 Giants? Offensively, they are a team that can run or throw the football. They can come from behind to win games. The Giants have an emerging quarterback who, despite continued growing pains, has dramatically increased his completion percentage and who throws a lot of touchdowns. They have a very solid, balanced offensive line and a two-headed monster at running back. They have one of the best tight ends in football and two quality wide receivers. Defensively, the Giants are still gaining cohesion and chemistry. There will be still growing pains, but the Giants defend the run well and can rush the passer. Pass coverage remains somewhat of a concern as does the injury situation after the Dallas game. Special teams have not yet played up to their capability, but the Giants have two solid kickers and their kick and punt coverage units are good. The return game needs to pick it up. This is a good football team – a well-balanced team that can score, defend, and play specials. They should not be afraid of anyone they play.

As for the victory against Dallas, it obviously was a huge, huge win. The Cowboys needed this game more than the Giants. Now Dallas has two division losses while the Giants have none. And the re-match will be in New Jersey. In the cold. Dallas expected to win this game. So did the media. The Cowboys always beat the Giants on Monday night. Troy Aikman and Rayfield Wright were given their Hall of Fame rings at halftime. The game had a playoff atmosphere to it. The Giants were supposed to be the backdrop, not the main event. The Giants did not just win, they largely dominated the game, controlling both lines of scrimmage. Dallas is not dead. After all, they are only one game out of first place. But the Giants hurt them.

Defensive Overview: All of the talk after the game was how Dallas’ quarterbacks threw four interceptions and were sacked six times, but the real key to this win was that the Giants’ run defense continues to play very well. Dallas came into the game averaging over 150 yards rushing per game. Halfbacks Julius Jones and Marion Barber were held to 59 yards on 19 carries (3.1 yards per carry). Keep in mind that 22 of those 59 yards came on one draw play by Marion Barber late in the game. Dallas couldn’t run and when they passed, mostly good things happened for New York. And when Texas Stadium went crazy when QB Tony Romo trotted onto the field, the Giants quickly shut the place up by deflecting and intercepting his first pass. Priceless! The Giants did loosen up way too much for my liking after the team went ahead 26-7. Part of that had to do with injured defensive players being out of the game, but giving up 227 yards passing in one half, even in garbage time, is too much.

Defensive Line: Another excellent game for the guys up front. The star of the show was Michael Strahan (5 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 pass defense). While much attention was given to his two first-half sacks, it was Strahan’s run defense that really stood out. After all, Strahan was unblocked on his first sack and his second sack was of the coverage variety. But Strahan flashed on draw plays, runs at him, and runs up the middle. He tackled Jones for a 3-yard loss and a 2-yard loss. He pressured QB Drew Bledsoe to unload the ball quickly on 3rd-and-18. And it was Strahan who wasn’t fooled on Romo’s rollout to the right on a bootleg pass. Strahan tipped the pass and it was intercepted. Three plays later, the Giants are up 19-7. Strahan had another pressure late in the third quarter, but was surprisingly quiet in the fourth quarter as Cowboys marched up and down the field.

Losing Osi Umenyiora (hip flexor) for any lengthy period would be a huge blow. Making matters worse, Justin Tuck (foot) was also injured. Before he departed the game, Umenyiora caused an incompletion on a deep pass attempt to Terrell Owens on the play right before LaVar Arrington’s safety. On this play, Umenyiora stunted to the inside and hit Bledsoe as he threw. In the second quarter, playing at defensive tackle on 3rd-and-16, Umenyiora got to Bledsoe for an 8-yard sack (however, Umenyiora was fortunate that this was called “in the grasp” as Bledsoe did get rid of the ball). Osi was hurt on an excellent run defense play where he stuffed Marion Barber for no gain on the snap right before Sam Madison intercepted the ball at the goal line.

Mathias Kiwanuka played the entire second half. He did not have any tackles, but he got a key pressure on Romo, forcing the inexperienced quarterback to throw an ill-advised screen pass that was intercepted at a key moment in the game when momentum was starting to shift back to Dallas. Kiwanuka also had another pressure later in the fourth quarter.

Inside, the starting tackles continue to play well. Dallas could not run up the middle on the Giants. Robbins once again did a nice job of defending a screen pass, coming up with his second interception of the season (how many tackles can say that?). He also got a good rush on Romo on one play in the third quarter and picked up a garbage sack when Romo was forced into his arms by LB Reggie Torbor. William Joseph missed a tackle on a scrambling Romo, but did pick up a 4-yard sack on the play before the interception by Robbins.

Linebackers: The linebackers did a nice job against the run and helped to shut out TE Jason Witten in the first half of the game. It was a damn, damn shame to see LaVar Arrington lost for the season because he was obviously playing his best game of the season. His sack of Bledsoe for a safety early in game was a huge play as he expertly timed his blitz through a gap in the offensive line. Arrington also may have saved a touchdown on a flea flicker when he charged through two blockers to hit Bledsoe’s arm as he was unloading the ball. Arrington also made a nice tackle on an early run by Jones.

Antonio Pierce (5 tackles, 2 pass defenses, 1 interception) had an impact. He caused an incompletion by leveling the wide receiver on a slant in the second quarter. Later, he held Jones to a 1-yard gain on a run around right end in the second quarter. On Dallas’ first play of the second half, Pierce intercepted Romo’s deflected pass to set up the Giants’ second touchdown of the game. Pierce got away with one on the screen pass that was picked off as he clearly mugged Jones, the intended receiver, on the play.

Brandon Short (5 tackles) played OK. He leveled Owens after one catch in the second quarter. He held Jones to no gain on one third-quarter run. However, he did miss a tackle on a 9-yard scramble by Romo and Witten did catch a pass between him and CB Kevin Dockery for 31 yards early in the fourth quarter.

Reggie Torbor was unblocked on one blitz and his pressure caused Romo to be sacked by Fred Robbins. Chase Blackburn, for some reason, took a step forward instead of dropping immediately into coverage on the 53-yard touchdown pass at the end of the game. The indecision on his part made it an easier throw for Romo.

Defensive Backs: The Giants’ defensive backs did a real nice job against a very talented group of skill position players for much of the game. Terry Glenn was held to 41 yards on four catches. Owens only had two first-half receptions. The Giants gave up too many pass completions in the second half once they were up 26-7 however.

It was a good overall game for Corey Webster and Sam Madison. Webster made a real nice, physical tackle on an early short-yardage run that barely picked up the first down. And while Webster was flagged for pass interference against Owens on 2nd-and-goal from the 5-yard line, the Cowboys never really did much damage in his direction. This was a big-time effort by Webster against quality competition.

Madison was lined up over Owens for much of the game until Madison left with a hamstring injury. He knocked away a second-quarter slant pass to Glenn. He was then beat by Owens for a 31-yard gain on 3rd-and-7. This was Owens’ only big completion of the first half. However, on the same drive, Madison was beat by Glenn for 15-yards on a slant on 3rd-and-2. This was Dallas’ sole scoring drive of the first half. However, Madison probably made the play of the game for the Giants when he did a fantastic job of covering Glenn on a goal line route on 2nd-and-goal from 4-yard line. Madison broke on the ball and picked it off, saving sure points, possibly saving the lead, and causing Dallas to make a costly quarterback switch. This is the type of play the Giants envisioned when they essentially dumped Will Allen for Madison.

When Madison left the game in the second half, nickel back R.W. McQuarters took over his right corner spot. McQuarters played far too soft on Owens’ 8-yard touchdown catch. But he did have good deep coverage on Glenn on the ensuing drive, causing an incompletion. Unfortunately, on the very next snap, he was flagged with unnecessary roughness for hitting Owens out-of-bounds. McQuarters had good coverage again on Glenn on an incomplete pass late in the game.

Kevin Dockery was forced into the lineup when Frank Walker went down with a hamstring injury. Witten caught a 31-yard pass between him and Brandon Short early in the fourth quarter. But Dockery made a huge play in a huge game by returning a pick 96 yards for a touchdown late in the game. Although the pass was thrown behind the intended receiver, Dockery did correctly read the play and make a very good jump on the football. Just as importantly, he caught the ball – something Giants’ defensive backs are not known to do. That all said, I think it was Dockery who got beat badly on the 53-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing possession.

Will Demps (3, 1 pass defense) tackles and Gibril Wilson (4 tackles, 2 pass defenses) were pretty active in run support and did a nice job on Witten for the most part. Demps made a nice tackle on Jones early in the game to hold him to a limited gain. Demps later knocked away a 3rd-and-2 pass to Jason Witten. On the very next play, Dallas turned the ball over on downs when Owens dropped the ball (sweet!). However, a somewhat gimpy Demps did give up a 21-yard sideline reception to Witten late in the game. I am not sure of Demps’ responsibilities on the 53-yard touchdown play at the end of the game, but he was nowhere near the receiver. Wilson dropped an interception on Dallas’ second touchdown drive of the game and was beat by Witten for a 15-yard gain on 3rd-and-14 in the fourth quarter.

James Butler has a real nice hit on Owens to help cause an incompletion in the fourth quarter.

Offensive Overview: The Giants ran the ball fairly well against what had been the top-ranked rush defense in the NFL, holding the opposition to 67 yards per game. Tiki Barber and Brandon Jacobs ran for 154 yards on 37 carries (4.2 yards per carry). While Eli Manning only completed 12 passes, many of those completions were clutch throws in key situations, including two touchdown passes. The offensive line – particularly the tackles – had some rough moments, but generally performed well. The offense really set the tone for the evening with their quick strike on the game’s opening drive. And the Giants’ third quarter, 14-play, 68-yard march that consumed almost eight minutes of the clock and resulted in a touchdown really took the life out of the Cowboys.

Quarterback: It wasn’t a great statistical game for Manning (12-of-26 for 189 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception). Eli only completed 12 passes. But many of those passes were incredibly significant in the outcome of the football game. What really impressed me about Manning on Monday night was his presence and maneuverability in the pocket. This was as good as I’ve seen Eli feel the rush and move around to buy additional time, at the same time remaining composed. The pass protection was not outstanding.

New York set the tone for the game on their 5-play, 74-yard opening drive. Manning found Amani Toomer for seven yards on 3rd-and-4. Two plays, later, avoiding the rush from his right and stepping up into the pocket, Manning delivered a picture-perfect deep strike to Plaxico Burress for a 50-yard touchdown. In the second quarter, he lobbed another perfect deep pass to Burress for a 44-yard gain. This drive was kept alive when Manning did a nice job of moving around in the pocket until he found Barber for 12-yard gain on 3rd-and-7. At the beginning of the third quarter, Eli hit Jeremy Shockey for a 13-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-9. On the 14-play touchdown drive, Manning had a number of key completions including a 14-yarder to Tim Carter on 3rd-and-8 when facing an all-out blitz and under heavy pressure.

There were some negatives. Manning got greedy and tried to force a deep pass to a triple-covered Toomer. He fired a ball behind Shockey at the goal line for what probably should have been a touchdown (the Giants settled for a field goal instead). And Manning was very, very lucky that his second-quarter pass intended for Toomer was not intercepted in the waning seconds of the first half. That was a bad throw in a bad situation. Manning also badly overthrew Shockey on a deeper intermediate route in the third quarter.

Wide Receivers: Plaxico Burress only had two catches, but they were huge. The first was a 50-yard touchdown reception where he out-leapt the defender to securely snag the football for the early lead. Later, he made a very difficult over-the-shoulder Willie Mayes-type catch for a 44-yard gain, setting up the Giants’ first field goal of the game. On the downside, Burress dropped two passes. Also, he seemed to lose track of the football (in the lights?) on the 3rd-and-1 shot into the end zone that was intercepted.

On a side note, what was great to hear from the broadcast was how much time Eli and Plaxico now spend with each other after practice, practicing on their own in order to gain on-field chemistry. That kind of dedication pays off.

Amani Toomer made a clutch 7-yard reception on 3rd-and-4 on the game’s opening touchdown drive. But that was it for Toomer in the first half. I spotted him making a key block on an early Tiki Barber run, but also badly missing an important block on the defensive back at the point-of-attack. Toomer had two catches in the second half for a total of 19 yards. And both were important receptions on two scoring drives.

Tim Carter had one catch for 14 yards, but it was a big one coming on 3rd-and-8 on the 68-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter.

Running Backs: Another 100-yard game for Tiki Barber against another top-ranked run defense. In fact, Barber was the first player to run for 100 yards or more against Dallas this season. Barber carried the ball 18 times for 85 yards in the first half and nine times for 29 yards in the second half for a total of 27 carries for 114 yards. Obviously, most of his damage came before intermission. Barber was also the leading receiver with four catches (for 32 yards). Tiki had a real nice 11-yard cutback run on the game’s opening touchdown drive. He had a 17-yard run on the next possession. Early in the second quarter, he gained 12 yards mostly after the catch on pass from Manning on 3rd-and-7. One of Tiki’s longest run of the night (18 yards) may have been his most ignored. It came on 3rd-and-16 at the end of the first half and prevented the Cowboys from getting another shot to score points before halftime. On the 68-yard touchdown drive, Barber carried the ball five times for 18 yards with his longest run being for eight yards.

That all said, it is necessary to point out that Tiki has now fumbled twice in recent weeks. And his lost fumble against the Cowboys at the Giants’ own 14-yard line right after Dallas had cut the lead to 12-7 could have proved disastrous.

Brandon Jacobs (10 carries for 40 yards) did most of his damage in the second half as he received as many carries as Barber did after the break. His only carry of the first half was a 5-yard run on 3rd-and-1. On the 68-yard touchdown drive, Jacobs had three carries and all of them were huge. First he somehow powered his way through the line and ran over SS Roy Williams for nine yards – it was an impressive statement run. Then he picked up two yards on 3rd-and-1. His most important run of the night, obviously, was his 3-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-1. This play was not blocked well at all and Jacobs was hit well short of the first-down marker (let alone the end zone). It didn’t matter as Jacobs merely ran through everyone in his way. A huge, huge play in the football game. On the down side, I didn’t care for Jacobs’ effort in pass protection on the play before this run. For a back as big as Jacobs, he should hit the rusher head up instead of trying of trying to cut block him. Also, later in the game on the final field goal drive, Jacobs should have kept his feet and tried to run over the cornerback on an 8-yard pickup instead of diving for the first-down marker. He didn’t make it and the Giants had to settle for a field goal two plays later. Run over the small guy Brandon! Jacobs did a great job of running out the clock to end the game.

FB Jim Finn blocked pretty well, but he had some problems this week. I spotted one play where LB/DE DeMarcus Ware simply tossed him aside to make the play. Finn did clobber S Roy Williams on the short pass to Barber that picked up 12 yards and a first down.

Tight Ends: I thought both Jeremy Shockey and Visanthe Shiancoe blocked well against the 3-4 defense. Shockey, once again, was shut out in the first half of a game in the pass-receiving department. The Giants tried to get him the football for a touchdown on 3rd-and-10 in the second quarter, but Manning threw behind him. Manning went back to Shockey on a similar play in a similar situation (3rd-and-9 from the 13-yard line) at the start of the second half. This time, an accurate pass was thrown for the touchdown as Shockey beat Roy Williams. Shockey’s only other catch of the game was a 10-yarder on 2nd-and-2 in the third quarter.

Offensive Line: The offensive line performed fairly well against a very physical and talented front seven. The Giants rushed for 155 yards and Manning was able to complete a number of clutch passes in key situations. However, both tackles had issues with the edge rushers. LT Luke Petitgout had problems with LB/DE DeMarcus Ware for much of the game as not only did Ware out-quick Petitgout to the outside on some plays, but he also bull-rushed Luke at least two times. RT Kareem McKenzie had problems with LB/DE Greg Ellis too. One early sack and forced fumble given up by McKenzie was luckily reversed and called an incompletion instead. The first sack came as Eli was unable to find anyone open as the entire pocket collapsed around him. The second sack came when Petitgout was pushed back into Manning by Ware again. Petitgout was also flagged with his customary false start. I’ve mentioned this before, but I do love both our guards. Not only are both good football players, but they are tough guys who don’t back down. Both David Diehl and Chris Snee play with an attitude. Center Shaun O’Hara continues to be one of the most underappreciated players on this team.

Special Teams: Jeff Feagles returned to form and was a big factor in the football game. He averaged almost 49 yards per punt on his three punts, with the biggie being 54-yarder that was down at the one-yard line in the first quarter. Dallas only returned one of the three punts (for seven yards). Ryan Kuehl made the tackle.

Jay Feely hit both of his field goals from 31- and 32-yards out. However, the first was very close to being a miss. He kicked off seven times. One went for a touchback. The others were fielded at the 10, -2, 3, -1, 3, and 2 yard lines. Kickoff coverage was solid. Returns went for 19 (Justin Tuck on the tackle), 22 (Reggie Torbor), 19 (Gerris Wilkinson), 26 (Chase Blackburn), 26 (Torbor), and 24 yards (Blackburn).

Chad Morton had one excellent punt return for 17 yards and another that lost four. Kickoff returns continue to be a big problem. Morton returned four kickoffs, with his longest being only 22 yards. He had one return for a putrid four yards when the ball fell short and hit the ground before he could get to it.

Nice job by James Butler to recover an onsides kick.

Coaching: I don’t really agree with the criticism that the Giants should not have taken a shot at the end zone on 3rd-and-1 in the second quarter. If this play were executed properly and had the Giants scored, everyone would have been saying, “What a great play call! Way to go for the throat!” It was a similar situation to the 4th-and-1 deep shot to Shockey last year in San Francisco that scored a touchdown. The same people criticizing this call are probably the same that have complained last year that the Giants never throw the football in short yardage.

I thought the far riskier play was going for it on 4th-and-1 at the Dallas’ 3-yard line late in the third quarter. A field goal there would have given the Giants a 15-point lead. But Coughlin decided to go for the throat a second time and it worked. But you don’t hear anyone complaining because it worked. See what I mean?

What I didn’t care for was the play calling at the end of the first half after Madison’s interception. The Giants’ dodged a couple of bullets there by first luckily picking up 18 yards on a running play on 3rd-and-16, then having a Dallas linebacker drop a sure interception. The Giants were fortunate that the Cowboys didn’t get another shot to put points on the board. There was too far to go and not enough time for the Giants to seriously think about extending their lead. They should have simply run out the clock.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, October 23, 2006)
Oct 262006

October 25, 2006 New York Giants Injury Report -– Defense Ailing: Not practicing yesterday were DE Osi Umenyiora (hip), DE Justin Tuck (foot), CB Sam Madison (hamstring – not cramps as had been previously reported), CB Frank Walker (hamstring), WR Plaxico Burress (heel), and WR Sinorice Moss (quad). Burress is “probable” for the game against the Buccaneers on Sunday; everyone else is “questionable.”

LB Carlos Emmons (pectoral muscle), S Jason Bell (concussion), and HB Derrick Ward (foot) practiced, but all three are also “questionable” for the game.

When asked about Umenyiora and Tuck, Head Coach Tom Coughlin replied, “The MRI’s were completed. Osi will be a week-to-week guy, I’m sure. He is very sore. And Tuck, I’ll have to see. He is sore today and could not practice today.”

Regarding the MRI on Umenyiora, Coughlin said, “(We) know what the MRI is. He is very sore. So we expect that he will make progress. But he has problems. He is not going to be able to go today and won’t be able to probably go this week.”

Notes and Quotes: LB Carlos Emmons is likely to start at strongside linebacker for the Giants on Sunday against the Buccaneers in place of LaVar Arrington. “That makes the most sense,” said MLB Antonio Pierce.

With Umenyiora and Tuck ailing, the Giants may sign DE Adrian Awasom from the Practice Squad.

DE Mathias Kiwanuka on the difference between being a situational pass rusher and a full-time starter: “Normally, if the coach sent me in, it was because they were going to pass, so I didn’t have to do much thinking on my own. Now that I have to be out there the entire game, I have to think through what their formation is, what’s the situation, down and distance. It’s going to be a little different.”

HB Tiki Barber on those who have criticized his retirement decision: “I will call them ‘idiots’ because they have neither spoken to me nor any one of my teammates or any of my coaches, yet all they do is criticize me for being a distraction with this retirement thing…That includes (New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers, that includes Tom Jackson on ESPN, that includes the ultimate character guy, facetiously speaking, of course, Michael Irvin (of ESPN), please get a clue how to be a journalist. Don’t make blanket assumptions about it.”

Oct 252006

October 24, 2006 New York Giants Injury Report – Giants Hurting at Defensive End: As reported yesterday, LB LaVar Arrington tore his Achilles tendon against the Cowboys. He will miss the remainder of the 2006 NFL season.

DE Osi Umenyiora suffered a hip flexor injury in the game. He was scheduled to take an MRI yesterday afternoon in order to determine how much time he will miss.

DE Justin Tuck suffered a foot injury in the game. He was also scheduled to undergo an MRI yesterday.

CB Frank Walker strained his hamstring and is currently day-to-day.

Giants-Bears Game Officially Moved to 8:15PM: It has been officially announced that the November 12th game between the Giants and Bears has been moved from a 1:00PM start to 8:15PM as part of the NFL’s new flexible scheduling scheme. In addition, instead of being televised on FOX, the game will now be nationally televised on NBC.

Since each team is permitted to play only six prime-time games, the Giants are eligible to have one more moved to Sunday night. Newsday is reporting that FOX has protected the December 3rd Giants-Cowboys game and the December 17th Giants-Eagles. If so, those games are safe from being switched to prime time. If the Giants have another game moved, the most likely candidate is the December 10th game against the Panthers.

October 24, 2006 Tom Coughlin Media Session: The following is the transcript of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s media Q&A session from yesterday:

Q: What’s the update on Osi Umenyiora?

A: He’s having an MRI this afternoon and we won’t know until after that.

Q: Were there any other injuries of note in the game?

A: LaVar (Arrington) is having an MRI and (Justin) Tuck is having an MRI on his foot.

Q: Are there any ramifications from Tiki Barber’s hit, or is he fine?

A: He seemed to be fine.

Q: Is the MRI on Arrington just to confirm, or is there a possibility it wasn’t completely torn?

A: No. Well, they’re very confident – I shouldn’t say that – they’re very sure of what it is, but of course they’re going to do all of the tests.

Q: Frank Walker?

A: Frank Walker has a hamstring strain, and it’s probably going to be day-to-day.

Q: I know you said Umenyiora is getting an MRI. Do you think this could be a lengthy thing?

A: I have no idea. I know that he’s very sore, and hopefully it will be a minimal amount of time, but I’m really not sure.

Q: Do you have a plan in mind on how you’re going to compensate for the loss of Arrington?

A: We’re working on that and talking about that. I’ll have something for you.

Q: Given that Arrington was coming on, how concerned are you about filling that spot now?

A: Very concerned. As we were indicating each week, LaVar kept playing a little better, getting more comfortable in the scheme (and) looked like he was moving better. He had practiced every day for the last two weeks and not missed a practice. He was feeling pretty good about himself and felt like he was real aware of the responsibilities within the various coverages and the rushes that he had. I am definitely concerned, but I think more than that I feel very badly for him, and we all do. Here’s a guy who realized that he had a great opportunity and there’s an awful lot of questions about where he had been, what range of ability he had, and he was trying to answer all of those questions. He was playing hard and he was trying to get to a point where he was making a statement about his ability. As a team, we were excited about having him. And then he’s injured and he’s gone. It’s not a happy occasion when that happens. I think you have to feel badly for the player.

Q: Did you sense also, given the role he has in the locker room, that the team almost seemed to sag back a little bit on that drive when he went out?

A: I think that happens. I know that there’s a psychological downer, if you will, whenever something like that happens and someone has to be removed from the field. There are a lot of questions about their health, how they feel and the extent of the injury. But right away – we knew.

Q: This is the second straight year that it’s taken the defense three games to hit its stride. Is that just a coincidence, or is there something in that as far as the time it takes to mold?

A: I don’t know that there’s anything there except a coincidence. I’m not sure of that having any significance at all. I think we’re playing more recklessly now. I think we’re playing with speed. I think we’re physical. I think we take great pride in what we’re doing, and I think just in watching the demeanor, the players are conducting themselves on the field with energy. I think it’s obvious that some good things are going on, and what that has to do with any other year, I wouldn’t even attempt to guess.

Q: Obviously we saw last year what happened when injuries began to pile up. Are you convinced that you have better depth this year that you can withstand the loss of LaVar?

A: We’ll see. Any time you take a quality player out, it’s not good, because it’s difficult to replace these people. But we have good players here, and they’re going to have to. We’re going to have to rise up and guys are going to have to take the position and play well and allow us to continue.

Q: How close is Carlos Emmons to being able to come back and play in a game?

A: I’m hoping he’s ready to come back right now. He’s had a week of padded work and this will be his second week, so certainly the timing is right.

Q: How important when dealing with injuries is it to have built up a lead in the division?

A: Injuries happen in this game, and for everybody to take the gloom and doom approach is not…It’s not the way that we’re going to approach it, I can tell you that right now. It’s early in the season. We just completed our seventh week. There’s a long way to go. Every win is an important win, and every man who is on your team has a specific job, a contribution, a strong contribution to make, a responsibility – whether or not they’re taking mental reps or actually playing in the game at that position – to improve and to be prepared and ready to go if indeed called upon. Because that’s part of the responsibility of being a good teammate, is to not let the other guys down. We’ll see to what extent we can continue to move forward. I certainly do. We all do feel badly for LaVar, but we also know that we have to move forward.

Q: If Emmons is ready to go, does he move to the strong side?

A: I’m not going to say anything or speculate where anybody goes until I’ve had a good opportunity to discuss it.

Q: Could he, though? He started there last year.

A: He has played both sides.

Q: Are those two sides fairly interchangeable?

A: No. Not really. Some of it is – when the defenses are called that provide for them both being off the ball, they’re similar. But normally not when one is on the line of scrimmage and the other is off. As I said, we interchange them throughout the course of training camp, throughout the course of…They have to be ready to go, one side or the other. Each individual has played both positions or tried to play two positions, anyway, as you come out of camp. There is some work that has been done there.

Q: Because of the way Mathias Kiwanuka moves, could he possibly be a replacement, if conditions were right?

A: There’s no sense in speculating on that right now. We don’t know the status of two of our other defensive ends.

Q: You had a lot of new guys cycling in last night. How did you feel with guys like Kiwanuka playing a lot of snaps?

A: Oh, I like that. They’ve had good practices and have always been involved. That’s one thing about defensively – there’s been lots of substitutions and practice time spent on bringing along a lot of people. There certainly was an occasion to be able to cash in on that last night.

Q: Some of the characterizations said the team has turned things around and is playing better now. Do you think that’s an accurate portrayal of these last few games?

A: Well, there isn’t any question. Starting with the Washington game, we did play better. We played better because we played very well on defense. We didn’t give anything up. It pretty much started there, and so for the last three weeks we’ve played very well. We’ve been able to compliment each other, and all three phases have played what I’ve been characterizing as ‘Giant football.’

Q: Was the Seattle game a low point?

A: It certainly wasn’t a high point.

Q: One of the quotes from Antonio Pierce said he thinks the defense and the whole team should continue to play with that attitude, like they are underdogs.

A: There’s no question about that. There isn’t any question in my mind that what’s most important is a team which has an attitude toward itself that indicates that improvement is a very, very important thing. And, of course, winning and the pursuit of championships. Those are the things that are important…What you’d like to do is take the good from each game experience and then recognize that there are many areas that need improvement and apply yourself to that improvement…We have a slogan that we use, which is, ‘Prepare in practice as if you’ve lost your last game.’ I think that kind of puts it into perspective for where I like the mental of this thing to be, and the physical part of it to be, is to continue to be smart about addressing the next opponent and, again, taking the good from the game that you’ve just completed, but understanding that, certainly, you’re not entitled to anything because of what you did yesterday. If you’re sitting around wondering about what you did yesterday, you certainly haven’t done a whole lot about today.

Q: I know you’re going to take each of the games coming up individually, but can you just speak to the rarity of having three straight home games?

A: I wouldn’t even be able to tell you last week who was beyond the Tampa Bay game. That’s kind of the way I’m going to keep it. For us, it’s a matter of 10 one-game schedules. Tampa Bay is the next game, and they’re certainly worthy of every ounce of preparation and every ounce of study that we can put into it. We’re coming off a Monday night game. It’s a short week and we have an awful lot of work to do. We’re very glad and very thankful that we’re going to be at home, and we certainly look forward to playing in front of our home crowd again – Giants Stadium full of Giants fans. We’re going to need that kind of energy and motivation this weekend and that’s where it is for me. The fact that we are at home is a good thing, and hopefully the 12th man will provide us with that continuous spark.

Q: Matt Bryant made the kick of his life, obviously, on Sunday to beat the Eagles. Just to go back for a second, do you recall if your concerns with him were basically his inability to stay on the field because of his hamstrings, or based on his accuracy or length of kicks?

A: No, I think it was the injury factor more than anything else, as I recall.

Q: There seemed to be a couple of plays where horse-collar tackles were not called again.

A: The official comment on the one on Tiki was that in order to call the horse-collar tackle, the runner has to be immediately yanked off his feet. Of course, that wasn’t the case last night with the run that Tiki had, in that there were a few yards or whatever where they were engaged before he actually came down. That’s the interpretation. We certainly felt that there was a back of the shirt kind of position that was taken, but I guess because of the fact that it wasn’t immediate that the runner lost his footing, the call wasn’t made.

Q: But now you’ve seen it four or five times since they put this rule in, and it’s never been called. Do you feel like they maybe need to look at the rule again in a different way because it seems to just be open to too much interpretation?

A: They spent two years on this year. The first year that the rule was in effect, they made an arbitrary decision, from where I’m sitting, that they weren’t going to call it. This year, this is the first time that I had heard that interpretation, but that’s the way it’s being officiated. The officials, to their credit, they knew exactly how it was interpreted. They were willing to volunteer to me exactly what – how the rule is enforced.

Q: With Tuck, was it his foot or his ankle?

A: It’s his foot. He has a swollen foot.

Q: You not only defeated the Cowboys pretty soundly, but you also seemed to leave them in disarray with their quarterback situation and now they have three road games. Was last night’s victory maybe more than just one win, as far as the impact it could have on the division race?

A: I hadn’t even thought about that. As I said, there are many games to play. They’re a good football team. They’re well-coached, and they will make the best of whatever they have to. This race is a most difficult one, and I wouldn’t even speculate on anything except trying to get ourselves ready for the next game.

Q: How did Reggie Torbor play last night?

A: He played pretty well. He did a nice job on (special) teams, he did a nice job when he was in there at the linebacker spot.

Notes and Quotes: The Giants-Cowboys game on Monday night was seen by the biggest audience in the history of cable television – an average of 11,807,000 homes, based on a 12.8 rating.

HB Tiki Barber on the Giants’ turnaround: “Early this year we were making so many mistakes. We have so much talent on offense, but mistakes were hurting us and putting us behind the eight ball. Our focus during the bye week was to (not) make the mistakes, because we have enough skill, we have enough wherewithal to beat any team in this league. We just can’t hand it over, and we did that early in the year. We haven’t done it the last three weeks and that’s why we’ve had such dominating wins. I give Coach Coughlin a lot of credit for refocusing us and basically telling us to be accountable – not to be so confident in ourselves that we don’t have to go out and play hard. We have to earn everything that we get, whether we have talent or not. And I think we started to do that after our bye weekend.”

Oct 242006

Giants Take First Place in NFC East, But Lose LaVar for Season: The Giants soundly beat the Dallas Cowboys last night 36-22 in Irving, TX. With a 4-2 record, the victory puts the Giants in first place in the NFC East, a half game ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles (4-3) and a full game ahead of the Cowboys (3-3). The Giants are currently 3-0 in the NFC East and the only team without a division loss.

“We came into another hostile environment, stuck together, played well together and fed off each other,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin after the game.

“They outplayed us, they out-coached us, they out-did everything,” Dallas Head Coach Bill Parcells said of the Giants.

“This is a huge win for us, coming to Dallas on a Monday night,” said QB Eli Manning, who finished the game 12-of-26 for 189 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. “We knew it was going to be a tough environment, a tough team, a physical team. To come in here and get a win, that’s huge.”

“I’ve got to say what they say – ‘how ’bout them Giants?'” shouted MLB Antonio Pierce, who had five tackles and one interception. “Considering how we started – 1-2 – to bounce back and win three straight and be in first place early in the season is a big accomplishment. Any time you come to Dallas and get a win, it’s big.”

However, the win was costly for the Giants as they lost LB LaVar Arrington for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Arrington is expected to undergo surgery this week.

“I still want to play. I’ll get what needs to be done,” said Arrington. “If it was a knee injury I’d have to seriously consider where I’m at. But (the Giants’ team physician) said it’s an injury you can come back from and be the same. I’ll just get what needs to be done, be a support system to my teammates and when I have an opportunity to get back on the field, I’ll get back out there.”

DE Osi Umenyiora also suffered a hip flexor injury and CB Frank Walker suffered a hamstring injury. “Hopefully, he’ll be okay,” Coughlin said of Umenyiora. CB Sam Madison and FS Will Demps missed time in the second half of the game with cramps.

The Giants jumped on top of the Cowboys early. New York received the football first. On their opening drive, after picking up two first downs, QB Eli Manning threw deep and hit WR Plaxico Burress for a 50-yard touchdown to give the Giants a quick 7-0 lead.

A sack by DE Michael Strahan on Dallas’ first possession helped to stall that drive. The Giants were able to move the ball from their own 11-yard line to their own 45-yard line on their second possession, but were then forced to punt. P Jeff Feagles’ punt was down at the 1-yard line and on 2nd-and-10 from the one, Arrington shot through a gap and sacked Dallas QB Drew Bledsoe in the end zone for a safety. The Giants were now up 9-0.

The Giants immediately received the ball back on the punt after the safety. But the Giants went three-and-out as Manning was sacked on 3rd-and-9. Arrington then likely saved a touchdown as he deflected a pass from Bledsoe off a flea-flicker, causing an incompletion. Strahan next sacked Bledsoe for the second time in the game and Dallas punted two plays later. On the Giants’ ensuing possession, Manning hit Burress for a 44-yard gain down to the Dallas 28-yard line. The Giants managed to get to the 13-yard line, but were forced to settle for a field goal that gave them a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Dallas went three-and-out on their next possession with Umenyiora sacking Bledsoe for an 8-yard loss. KR/PR Chad Morton returned the punt to the Dallas 38-yard line, but New York turned the ball over as Manning was intercepted on a 3rd-and-1 pass intended for Burress in the end zone. The Cowboys then promptly marched 80 yards in 10 plays to cut the score to 12-7.

The Giants avoided disaster on the next series. HB Tiki Barber fumbled the ball away to Dallas. The Cowboys recovered at the Giants’ 14-yard line. After picking up a first down, Dallas faced a 1st-and-goal from the Giants’ 4-yard line. A run was stuffed by Umenyiora for no gain (this was the play that Umenyiora was hurt). Then on 2nd down, Bledsoe’s pass intended for WR Terry Glenn was intercepted by CB Sam Madison at the 1-yard line. The Giants were able to run out the remainder of the clock before intermission, barely holding onto their 12-7 lead. “That was huge,” said Coughlin of Madison’s interception. “The Cowboys were down inside the 10-yard line with an opportunity to take the lead in the game. At that point in time we were not playing all that well. Sam made the play and kept them from even getting a field goal. So that was huge.”

The Cowboys decided to bench Bledsoe at halftime in favor of QB Tony Romo. Dallas received the football first and Romo’s first pass was deflected by Strahan and intercepted by LB Antonio Pierce. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-9, Manning hit TE Jeremy Shockey for a 13-yard touchdown pass to give the Giants a 19-7 advantage.

Dallas was able to move the football on their next possession, driving from their own 22-yard line to the Giants’ 32-yard line. However, on 4th-and-2, Cowboys’ WR Terrell Owens dropped what would have been a sure first down and the Giants took over on downs. New York then proceeded to drive 68 yards in 14 plays to take a commanding 26-7 lead. The score came on a gutsy 4th-and-1 play from the Dallas 3-yard line as HB Brandon Jacobs was hit at the line but bulled his way forward for three yards and the score.

The Cowboys quickly got back into the game, however. Dallas drove 75 yards in seven plays with Romo hitting Owens for an 8-yard touchdown reception. With a successful 2-point conversion, the Giants were ahead 26-15. The Giants went three-and-out as Manning was sacked on 3rd-and-8. Dallas began to drive again and moved the ball down to the Giants’ 34-yard line. But on 2nd-and-14, Romo’s screen pass was intercepted by DT Fred Robbins and returned to the Dallas 48-yard line. The Giants were able to drive into scoring position, but were forced to settle for a 32-yard field goal that gave New York a 29-15 advantage with just under four minutes left in the game.

Again, the Cowboys quickly drove the ball, moving from their own 29-yard line to the Giants 11-yard line in just five plays. The Giants then sealed the deal when rookie CB Kevin Dockery intercepted Romo’s pass at the 4-yard line and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown. The Giants were now up 36-15. “We had a couple of guys go down and they trusted me to put me in,” said Dockery. “I had to make a play. I got the read on the quarterback’s look and broke on the ball. I caught the ball and I just saw green and blue (the latter being the color of the Cowboys’ end zones). I had to get to the end zone. It feels good, not just to score a touchdown, but to do it at such a critical time, when we needed to step up and make a play.”

The Giants gave up a cheap score late, but the Giants recovered the onsides kick and then ran out the clock to finish the game.

“Two weeks ago we were still a bad team,” Strahan said. “Nobody gave us a shot. We were done. We were hapless…We’ve got to keep this going, though. There’s still a long way to go.”

Post-Game Notes and Quotes: The Giants scored three offensive touchdowns against a Dallas defense that had not allowed an opponent’s offensive touchdown at home this season.

The Giants rushed for 155 yards against a Cowboys defense that entered the game ranked number one in the NFL against the run, allowing only 67.0 yards per game. “I expected to play well against the number one rush defense and we did,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

HB Tiki Barber gained 114 yards on 27 carries against Dallas. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Barber has led the Giants in rushing yards for 70 consecutive games, a streak that began with the 2002 season opener. That is the longest streak of its kind in NFL history. The old record was held by Barry Sanders, who led the Detroit Lions in rushing in each of 68 straight games from 1994 to 1998.

The Giants committed only three penalties.

Officially, DE Michael Strahan tied Lawrence Taylor for the most sacks in franchise history with 132½. However, unofficially, Taylor accrued 142 sacks with the Giants (sacks were not an official statistic during Taylor’s rookie year).

Inactive for the Giants were S Jason Bell (concussion), LB Carlos Emmons (pectoral muscle), HB Derrick Ward (foot), WR Sinorice Moss (quad), OT Guy Whimper, OT Na’Shan Goddard, DT Jonas Seawright, and QB Tim Hasselbeck (third quarterback).

Article on CEO John Mara: Mindful of Legacy, Mara Maps Future for Father’s Giants (Two Pages) by John Branch of The New York Times

Oct 212006

October 20, 2006 New York Giants Injury Report -– Injury Concerns at Safety Again: SS Gibril Wilson (toe) returned to practice yesterday. “He looked pretty good,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He put his pads on and went in. I feel better about him. He did a pretty good job changing direction. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. But it certainly is better than he was the day before.” Wilson is officially “questionable” for the game against Dallas on Monday night.

S Jason Bell (concussion) did not practice yesterday even though he practiced on Thursday. He has now been added to the injury list as “questionable.”

WR Amani Toomer (sore calf) returned to practice.

LB Brandon Short (surgically repaired knee) took his weekly day off; he has been added to the injury list as “probable.”

LB Carlos Emmons (pectoral muscle) practiced again and is “questionable.”

WR Sinorice Moss (quad) practiced, but is “doubtful.” HB Derrick Ward (foot) did not practice and is “doubtful.”

Notes and Quotes: MLB Antonio Pierce has been fined $12,500 by the NFL for his late hit of Atlanta QB Michael Vick in the closing minutes of last week’s 27-14 victory over the Falcons.

HB Tiki Barber on the Dallas defense: “Their specific talents are their linebackers. We had trouble blocking those guys last year coming off the edge. We know that they play close to the line of scrimmage. We had such a big game against Atlanta, and (Dallas is) the number one rush defense in the National Football League. It’s a challenge to us offensively, but we’re excited because we know that we have talent. We know if we execute and don’t make mistakes that we can put forth the plays that will hopefully carry us to victory…Atlanta was a fast-flow team. So if you step one way, you know that they’re going that way. So we had a lot of misdirection, and our offense – we had a lot of things to catch them off balance and give us advantages. Dallas isn’t that way. They don’t have fast-flow linebackers. They have guys that stay at home. They two-gap, meaning they take either gap on every hole that there is. So we have to find a way to take them out of that scheme and give me some creases in the run game and stay protected in the pass game.”