Tiki terrific despite broken finger

Head Coach Jim Fassel said he "anticipated" that Petitgout would be ready to play against Dallas. New York's only other injury of note was a sprained knee suffered by TE Marcellus Rivers.

Tiki Barber rushed for 146 yards on 24 carries, the highest opening-day total of his career (he had 144 against Arizona in 2000) and his third-highest total overall. It was Barber's 10th career 100-yard game, tying him with Ron Johnson for fourth on the team's all-time list. And he did it all with a dislocated left ring finger.

"I felt great out there," Barber said. "I wasn't worn down at all. Just the finger bothered me." "I can't say enough about how big Tiki's heart is," Michael Strahan said. "He's the one that carries this offense."

Luke hurt: New York's OL depth was tested early against St. Louis. Luke Petitgout left the game with back spasms early in the second quarter. His replacement? Rookie free agent Jeff Roehl. The Northwestern product played pretty well in Petitgout's absence. Opposite Roehl, Ian Allen, making his first NFL start, seemed overmatched at times. LG Rich Seubert left with a bruised thigh early in the fourth quarter and was replaced by rookie Wayne Lucier for one play. At that point, with Jeff Hatch inactive, the Giants were officially down to their last lineman. After the game, Head Coach Jim Fassel said he "anticipated" that Petitgout would be ready to play against Dallas. New York's only other injury of note was a sprained knee suffered by TE Marcellus Rivers. Kicked off: Matt Bryant not only did the job on place-kicks, drilling all three FG tries (47, 44, 24), but his kickoffs were much better than expected. Bryant reached the end zone on three of his six kickoffs.

"I had a job to do to help this team and I did it," Bryant said.

Jeff Feagles also came as advertised. He punted five times for a 44.2-yard average and downed two punts inside the 20-yard line - one at the three; the other at the 6.

"That's why I brought Feagles in here," Fassel said.

"Jeff Feagles can place the ball wherever he needs to place it," Brian Mitchell said.

Record watch: Amani Toomer caught two passes for 98 yards, increasing Toomer's career total to 5,407 yards. That moves him just 27 yards behind franchise record-holder Frank Gifford.

Kerry Collins has thrown 1,999 passes as a Giant and needs one to become the third quarterback in Giants history with 2,000, joining Phil Simms (4,647) and Charlie Conerly (2,833). His 202 yards boosted Collins' total as a Giant to 13,967, moving him past Fran Tarkenton (13,905) and into third place on the franchise's career list, behind Simms (33,462) and Conerly (19, 488).

Babers cut loose: Once rookie CB Rod Babers arrived at Giants Stadium the day before the Rams game, it was already much too late. The Giants waived Babers, the club's fourth-round draft choice this year. He had been under a roster exemption since mysteriously disappearing to Houston and failing to report to the stadium the previous Saturday.

Levens scratched: RB Dorsey Levens' worst fear came true, as he was inactive for the game. Once he found out early in the week that he wasn't going to dress, Levens asked to be released from his contract. Levens was joined in street clothes on the sidelines by RB Ron Dayne, CB Ray Green (hamstring), CB Frank Walker, LB Nick Greisen (hamstring), OT Jeff Hatch and WR Willie Ponder. Jason Garrett was the club's third QB.


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