Giants set tone from the get-go

Giants set tone from the get-go

It was only one play into Monday's night big matchup with New Orleans, but that's all it took for the Giants to strip away all the Saints' momentum.

Chase Blackburn recovered the biggest fumble of his brief two-game career to send the Giants on their way to a 27-10 victory over the Saints.

"It was a momentum changer right off the bat," Blackburn said.

"Right off the bat we had a huge play on our kickoff team, turning the ball over and putting it point-blank at the 10-yard line and subsequently scoring there," coach Tom Coughlin said.

Nick Greisen, who knocked the ball out of Fred McAfee's hands, felt something was fishy before the play.

"It's Monday night, it's the opening kickoff, you have to be aware of something," Greisen said. "I felt something was up."

Three plays – and 88 seconds later – the Giants were in the end zone with a 7-0 lead.

What it did was strip the Saints, a club riding an emotional high due to Hurricane Katrina, of their momentum before they had a chance to respond.

"From the first play, it was on our side," Greisen said. "You want to ride that as long as you can. It had to take the wind out of their sails right away. That was a great start."

Hat trick: The interception-starved Giants continue to find water to drink. Big Blue posted three more picks after turning in two during the opener. Carlos Emmons was the first up, as he thwarted a New Orleans drive late in the first half, setting up New York's third TD, which gave them a 21-7 lead.

New York's weakside backer said he read the receiver's route, but that often times a defender will read a route and the quarterback won't throw the ball.

Emmons was flagged 15 yards after the pick for taunting, after he spiked the ball near receiver Donte' Stallworth.

Emmons said he wasn't taunting in the least, just putting an exclamation point on his earlier prediction.

"I told him (Stallworth) before the game that I was going to get one," Emmons said. I didn't realize he was on the ground."

Next up was Brent Alexander, who benefited from Stallworth's inability to come up with a pass that was thrown behind him.

Alexander also knew what was coming because of his preparation during the week.

"I knew what route he was going to run before he even ran it," he said. "It was a formation I had seen on film."

As a result, Alexander told Shaun Williams to switch receivers, which was a good call or Williams would have gotten picked on the play. The ball was thrown behind Stallworth, who tipped it into the air and Alexander collected his first pick of the season.

Williams picked off Brooks' desperation heave in the end zone with 21 seconds to play to complete the hat trick and salt away the win.

However, after allowing 350 passing yards, the Giants secondary knows there is room for improvement.

"It's the little things that we have to correct," Alexander said. "We have to start making plays on third down."

"I was pleased to win the game, but we gave up an awful lot of yardage in the air," Coughlin said.

Back in action: Michael Strahan, who suffered back spasms two days before the game, said he was surprised that he was able to play as long as he did. The Saints surely wish he hadn't played at all. Strahan posted a nine-yard sack among his five tackles.

"Once I got there and warmed up, it didn't bother me at all," he said. "So, it felt good getting back in."

New York's other starting DE, Osi Umenyiora, posted his first career multi-sack game.

Manning the controls: He wasn't perfect, but Eli Manning sure was a heck of a lot better than he was during New York's season opener. Manning finished up completing 13-of-24 passes for 165 yards and a TD.

"I felt good," he said. "I felt more comfortable in the pocket. I felt more in sync with some things.

"I'm still not perfect. Still not where I want to be, but I feel a lot better."

Manning credited his wideouts for doing a great job of getting open. Both Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey caught five passes for 64 yards.

"I thought he played better this week than he did last week," Coughlin added.

Terrific Tiki: Giants running back Tiki Barber pledged before the game that he'd donate $100 for each yard he gained and $500 for each touchdown, with a minimum donation of $10,000.

"It was actually my brother's idea," says Barber of his twin Ronde, a cornerback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "The Bucs play the Saints twice a year," Tiki explained. "Each time, Ronde is going to donate $500 for every tackle and $1,000 for each interception, with a minimum donation of $5,000 per game.

"Many of the people in the Saints' organization and the citizens of New Orleans have lost everything. We really wanted to do something for the victims and this was one way we could help right now."

Barber finished the contest with 83 yards on 22 carries and two TDs – one on the ground, one through the air.

After the game, Barber admitted that he came up short of his minimum pledge.

"They're going to get 10,000 from me," he said.

Inactives: A week after turning in an interception, CB Frank Walker was deactivated because Will Peterson was healthy enough to play. LB Barrett Green couldn't have been happy to be in street clothes for the second straight game. G Rich Seubert, WR Jamaar Taylor, DE Eric Moore, DE Adrian Awasom and DT Damane Duckett were New York's other inactives against the Saints. Jared Lorenzen was the third quarterback.

Next up: The Giants head to San Diego to face off with the 0-2 Chargers in the Eli Manning Bowl. Kickoff for the nationally televised ESPN contest is scheduled for 8:30 EST.

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