Leaders come through when needed most

New York's two biggest leaders came through in a big way as New York beat Cleveland, 27-10. Kurt Warner has usurped the offensive leadership role by virtue of his impressive résumé, while Michael Strahan has been New York's unquestioned defensive leader since Jessie Armstead left town after the 2001 season. <BR><BR>

Warner played by far his best game since his days as a Ram, firing perfect pass after perfect pass all afternoon long.

"He's always been extremely impressive in terms of accuracy and his fundamental grasp for football and his ability to learn what we wanted him to learn from the standpoint of a new system," Tom Coughlin said. "He's made very steady progress. He understands what we want and he's done a good job of taking care of the ball."

That he has. Warner hasn't thrown an interception since last season and after having fumbling problems during the preseason and season opener, Warner appears to have corrected that problem as well.

"I do feel like I'm seeing the field well," he said after completing 19-of-27 passes for 286 yards. "I give a lot of credit to the coaches. They're calling good plays; they're making my reads easy. The receivers get open. When you don't have to force things, interceptions aren't going to be as prevalent."

For the first time since he's worn a Giants uniform, Warner made the throws and showed the confidence that reminded you of his days running the "Greatest Show on Turf." He was extremely accurate and lightning quick with his decisions.

"I feel like I'm drilling the ball well," he said. "I feel like I'm seeing things. I'm starting to get to the point where I can anticipate a little more. When I can do that it does nothing but help my game."

As is his way, all Warner wanted to do was compliment his teammates and take nary of the credit himself. They wouldn't have it, pointing to his skills and leadership ability as the main reason the Giants have won more than they've lost through three weeks.

"I feel he is in control of this offense and is making the right decisions and it shows his leadership is taking over," Tiki Barber said.

"Kurt is really putting the ball in places where we can catch it," Amani Toomer added. "I am really happy in the way he can buy a little extra time and get the ball out."

Warner, who took a huge hit on his 1-yard TD run, wasn't the only Giant playing through some pain. Strahan injured his left hand last week and re-aggravated it against Cleveland, which forced him from the game for a brief period. Before he got hurt in the third quarter, he sacked nemesis Jeff Garcia. After missing a few plays, Strahan got right back into action and recovered a botched Garcia snap, which turned away a Browns scoring chance.

"He played outstanding," Coughlin said of Strahan, who finished with six tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries. "He had, I thought, an outstanding week of practice. He really worked hard. He was a factor. It showed the quality of player he is, that he was injured and he still played."

"If I could get that every week, I would be a very happy man," Strahan said of his statistical outburst. "You hope to go out and do your best. You hope to go out and win.

"Winning is the best feeling in the world, regardless of how you play as an individual. So I am just glad that we won and that individually I had some good things happen for me."

Strahan underwent X-rays after the game. The results were unavailable at press-time.


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