Inside Slant, Matchups, Quotes, Injuries, Etc

It will be just the kind of game Wellington Mara would have loved. His beloved Giants are hosting the team he wanted to beat more than any other, the Washington Redskins, for first place (or at least a share of it) in the NFC East division.

Mara, the patriarch of not only the Giants but the NFL, died Tuesday at the age of 89, and one of the last things he saw was young quarterback Eli Manning throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Amani Toomer with five seconds remaining in a 24-23 victory over Denver.

"His grandson (Connor) told me in the locker room that Mr. Mara opened his eyes when we got that touchdown, smiled a little smile and then went back to sleep," said Manning, the ever-improving wunderkind who cost the Giants so much but is proving that it will one day be considered a bargain.

"Now we just have to dedicate ourselves to his memory and everything he stood for and try to fulfill the expectations we knew he had for us."

It hardly seems fair to make the Redskins go to battle against such emotional odds, but the game will be difficult, and no one knows that better than Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

"The Redskins are a very good team," he said. "Their offense is working smoothly and their defense is solid. I think (quarterback Mark) Brunell is playing very well. He seems to be very accurate and he is in total control of the offense. He has a strong arm. He has been able to deliver the deep ball, the short ball, the crossing pattern pass."

It should be noted that Brunell played for Coughlin for several years when both were in Jacksonville, and that he probably knows him better than any other coach in the league.

"Not really," Coughlin demurred. "Mark and I were close. I think he is a great quarterback and a great person. But everybody knows what he can do; there are no secrets about it. We are going to have to stop him and we are going to have to find a way to get through that tough defense if we are to win."

Both the Giants and Redskins are 4-2, along with Philadelphia, the defending division and NFC champion. Dallas is 4-3.

"This division is very tight," Coughlin said, "and I expect it will stay that way all season. This is crucial for us; it's a home game and a division game."

SERIES HISTORY: This will be the 145th meeting between the two rivals in a series dating back to 1932 when the Redskins were known as first the Boston Braves and then the Boston Redskins before moving to Washington in 1937. The Giants lead the series, 81-59-4, and they hold a 2-0 lead in postseason meetings. In 1986 they swept the Redskins in a three-game series, the third being the NFC championship game, a 17-0 Giants victory.


--QB Eli Manning, trying hard to keep a low profile and a likeable personality, shrugged off his near-miraculous comeback efforts against Denver last Sunday. "It was just two drives," he said, "and just because we got them to work doesn't mean I'm there yet. I have a lot to learn." He's definitely learning fast - he completed 14 of 17 passes in the fourth quarter for 114 yards.

--RB Tiki Barber had all the carries in the game except for one end-around by WR Tim Carter. He also carried the ball 19 times for 86 yards and scored a TD.

--WR Amani Toomer, who didn't have a single reception in the season opener to snip a 98-game streak of at least one catch, was the receiving hero vs. Denver. He caught eight passes for 63 yards and the winning 2-yard TD with five seconds remaining. "I am not about individual statistics," he says. "We are winning and scoring more points than this team has scored in a long time, so what is there for me to complain about?"

--MLB Antonio Pierce leads the Giants with 49 tackles after a season-high 13 against Denver. "We are coming together as a defense," he said. "There were a lot of new faces here this year, including mine." Pierce also has half a sack, seven defensed passes and one interception. He played with the Redskins last season as their fulltime MLB and leading tackler.

--LCB Will Allen, who is playing reasonably well, still hasn't managed to get an interception. He has five clear-cut drops in six games. It has been suggested that perhaps he should visit an eye doctor, since a similar situation was cleared up several years ago involving RB Joe Morris. Twice this season Allen has been in position and the ball sailed through his up-stretched arms.

BY THE NUMBERS: 31 - Times PK Jay Feely has approached the football with points on the line - and delivered. Feely has yet to miss this season, converting 11 field goals and 20 extra points for 53 points.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's kind of hard to put into words. He was a strong man. And he loved to be around the guys." - Giants' TE Jeremy Shockey on team co-owner Wellington Mara, who died Tuesday at the age of 89.


The Giants added DE-LB Alonzo Jackson from the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad. Jackson, 6-5 and 265, was a second-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers from Florida State in 2003. He will replace Barrett Green, who was placed on injured reserve with a combination of knee and ankle ailments. Green may require further surgery but is clearly lost for this season.

The more important consideration is the condition of SLB Carlos Emmons, who underwent an MRI and was found to have a partially torn pectoral muscle. "He has a chance to play but it's 50-50," said coach Tom Coughlin.

If he can't play, Reggie Torbor will start at SLB with Nick Greisen at WLB and Antonio Pierce at MLB. PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--WR Amani Toomer, who has been with the Giants for nine seasons and came to know Wellington Mara as a friend, said that the next few weeks would be difficult. "The emotions during the game will be a challenge for us," he said. "We just have to work together and remember that he always expected the best from us, in every meeting and every practice and every game."

--WR Plaxico Burress, who wasn't absolutely sure he'd play against Denver because of back spasms, did play and had six receptions for 84 yards and a TD. He has 37 receptions in six games for 481 yards and five TDs. He suffered a sprained shoulder against Denver and is day-to-day. He did not practice Wednesday.

--TE Jeremy Shockey continues to fight his way out of last season's doldrums. He caught just three passes Sunday but one was a crucial 24-yard gain in the final winning drive on third-and-10. "I just don't know how a kid like Eli (Manning, who's 24) can be so calm and cool," said Shockey, who is an old man of 25.

--PK Jay Feely still hasn't missed this year. He now has 11 FGs in as many tries and has converted all 20 PAT attempts. "I guess I'm in a groove," he said, "and I hope I never get out of it."

--SLB Carlos Emmons was taken for an MRI exam Monday after perhaps tearing his right pectoral muscle in a diving attempt to tackle Denver's Mike Anderson. He missed, but both outstretched arms were wrenched when Anderson broke through. The MRI revealed a partial tear of the pectoral muscle and he listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

GAME PLAN: It has become redundant but the key for the Giants' defense, which is 31st overall in the NFL, is to stop the Redskins running game, which means Clinton Portis, and the Redskins are fourth in the NFL in rushing offense - Portis has 544 yards in 123 carries.


The Giants' CBs, at the moment LCB Will Allen and RCB Curtis Deloatch, will have to contend with the mercurial WR Santana Moss, who already has 38 catches for 743 yards and five TDs. Moss has had four games of 100-plus receiving yardage, while the Giants are abysmal in pass defense - 31st in the NFL.

Giants' TE Jeremy Shockey will give Redskins' SS Ryan Clark (a one-time Giant FA) all he can handle. Shockey has caught 25 passes for 424 yards and has broken more tackles than Clark has made this season.

Giants' WR Plaxico Burress vs. Washington CBs Shawn Springs and Walt Harris. Burress (36 for 535 and five TDs) is Eli Manning's money receiver and uses his 6-5, 225-pound body and exceptional leaping ability to provide an almost indefensible target for smaller defenders.

INJURY IMPACT: The continued absence of RCB Will Peterson is damaging, and if SLB Carlos Emmons (partially torn pectoral muscle) is unable to play the defense will become vulnerable to the strong Redskins' running game.

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