Hot Topic and Player Notes: Giants

The Giants, freshly armed with a little confidence and a boost of adrenaline following a comeback from 24-7 to as 30-24 overtime victory in Philadelphia, now fly the breadth of the country to take on the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday.

Their record is 1-1, perfectly acceptable after two tough games, but it should have been 0-2. If that had been the case, a loss to the powerful Seahawks might have begun to sound a death knell.

Now it's on to the upper Northwest to find out just how good they really are. In a way it's as re-visit to their worst regular season game last year, one in which kicker Jay Feely missed three field goals -- two in overtime -- that would have given the Giants a victory and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

During the week of preparation, however, the Giants must find out what went wrong with their usually dependable offensive line. Quarterback Eli Manning was sacked a disturbing eight times (twice in overtime) for 53 yards in losses. He had not been sacked at all the week before against Indianapolis with the same five starters going roughly the full game.

Right guard David Diehl gave up two sacks and was not playing well. He allowed several penetrations by left defensive tackle Mike Patterson, a first-round draft pick rookie. Defensive end Jerome Kearse had 2.5 sacks, tackle Trent Cole had two and Patterson 1.5.

But head coach Tom Coughlin's decision to use more and more of his no-huddle offense in the second half apparently forced the Eagles to simplify what their defense was doing and, as a result, gave Manning more time to throw.

It also opened the running game just a little for the Giants' running game, which was held to 37 yards in the regulation game and 86 including the overtime.

The Seahawks' defense, among the NFL's best, will use everything on tape to see exactly what cracks in the Giants' offense can not only be found but exploited. Look for multiple sets and more all-out blitzes than they normally employ and several complicated variations designed to befuddle the still-learning Manning, who is starting only his second season as the starter (third overall).

REPLAY

The Giants fell behind, 24-7, and spent the first 55 minutes or so playing terribly. Then, suddenly, they fought back and turned it around. "I started to see some glimpses of that old Giant pride," crowed head coach Tom Coughlin, who was once again unnecessarily syrupy. Suffice to say the Giants' offense suddenly decided to stop making mistakes and the defense began covering receivers and tackling the running backs.

Perhaps the key penalty of the game was committed by linebacker-defensive end Trent Cole, who was flagged 15 yards with seconds to play in the fourth quarter when he kicked Giants' right tackle Kareem McKenzie after a play had ended. The dead ball foul for unnecessary roughness added 15 yards to an eight-yard pass from Manning to tight end Jeremy Shockey and put the ball on the Eagles' 17, from where Jay Feely kicked a 35-yard field goal that tied the score with 0:10 remaining.

Manning, despite the eight sacks, completed 31of 43 passes for 371 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once and finished with a 111.7 rating. He threw 12 times to veteran wide receiver Amani Toomer for 137 yards and two touchdowns. The game-winner, a 31-yarder, went to the other wideout, Plaxico Burress, who had six catches for 114 yards. Tiki Barber ran 21 times for 51 yards and caught seven passes for 57 more. 598

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Eli Manning said he couldn't remember taking a team back from a 17-point deficit. "It is kind of remarkable," he smiled, "so I'm sure I'd remember the last time." Ironically, that was almost the same response to the same question from Coughlin, who said, "maybe once, but I'm not sure, and that is so memorable I'm pretty sure I'd remember."

--WR Plaxico Burress, on his game-winning 31-yard TD catch in overtime. "It was supposed to be a 'go' route and he was supposed to throw it to the outside, in the corner [of the end zone]. But he got rushed and just unloaded the ball and it was thrown to my inside. Luckily I had time to make the adjustment."

--C Shaun O'Hara was ready to admit guilt not only for his lackluster performance but for the line as a whole. "We didn't play well and it shouldn't matter if that's a good defensive front," he said. "We are a good offensive line and should be able to adjust."

--WR Amani Toomer was the game's receiving leader, catching 12 passes for 137 yards. "I don't remember a game this satisfying," he said. "Not only did we beat a division team and avoid an 0-2 record but we came back from a huge deficit and showed that, well, that we could."

--RT Kareem McKenzie, who was kicked by DE-LB Trent Cole, which resulted in a dead ball foul that added 15 yards to an eight-yard pass completion and allowed a chip shot 35-yard FG to tie the game in regulation, dead-panned it. "Did he kick me? I'm not sure I remember. You know, maybe he did."