Hot Topic and Player Notes: Giants

It is a concept still hard to deal with, but the Giants can continue to lock down their lead in the NFC East this week when they return home to host the unsettled and unstable Vikings.

They'll return from San Francisco, where they pushed their record to 6-2 with a 24-6 thrashing of the struggling 49ers. The six victories at the halfway point of the season represent as many as they registered all last season.

They won't be quick to give away this advantage, either, because the game after the Minnesota tussle is another home affair, this one with the Eagles, thought to be the team to beat in the division but seemingly fading quickly.

The Giants limited the 49ers to 138 yards of offense and will look for similar results against the Vikings -- and once again facing a backup quarterback thrust into starting status by injury.

They were able to virtually shut out the 49ers' Cody Pickett, who was subbing for not only Alex Smith but also Ken Dorsey, and this Sunday they'll get to face Brad Johnson, the Vikings' new quarterback after the loss of Daunte Culpepper to a seriously shredded knee.

The Giants are 1-1 in NFC East games, having lost to Dallas 16-13 in overtime, and then running away from Washington 36-0.

The game against the Vikings will give young quarterback Eli Manning yet another chance to continue his improvement while fashioning two comfort zones for his passing game named Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey.

Burress, the wide receiver, continues to make circus catches, while Shockey, the tight end, has become more and more reliable and prone to coming up with increasing numbers of clutch receptions.


The Giants defied their history by actually throttling a weaker underdog, and they came away with their second straight stifling defensive performance. Following a 36-0 shutout of Washington, they limited the 49ers to a pair of field goals and 138 total yards of offense in racing to a 24-6 victory at San Francisco.

It wasn't as easy as the score might indicate, and with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter, Joe Nedney's 52-yard field goal narrowed the gap to 10-6.

But then a couple of circus catches by Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer set up two 1-yard touchdown runs by rookie Brandon Jacobs to move the game into a safety zone.

Eli Manning won his first game on the road -- ever -- and it also was the Giants' first road victory of the season. Manning completed 18 of 33 passes for 251 yards and one TD. He didn't throw an interception, nor did his O-line allow him to be sacked.

Tiki Barber carried 21 times for 71 yards, hardly the 206-yard performance he registered against Washington, but sufficient to solidify the running attack and balance the offense.


--SS Shaun Williams (hamstring) left the 49ers game in the second quarter and did not return. He had just returned from missing three games with the same pulled hamstring, and he is not expected back next week.

--QB Eli Manning on the victory at San Francisco: "I think this is a step up in my career. Every game I learn something, and I hope to improve from what I picked up today. It was also my first road win, and that got me over another hurdle."

--DE Michael Strahan, who had five tackles and continued his outstanding comeback from the 2004 torn pectoral muscle that kept him out for the last half of the season, says he sees more of Peyton Manning in young Eli Manning's performances each week. "All those motions with his hands look just like his brother," Stahan said with a smile. "Eli is fast climbing the charts, but Peyton is still on another level."

--WR Plaxico Burress caught five passes for 79 yards at San Francisco, giving him 45 receptions for 656 yards and five touchdowns in eight games.

--RB Brandon Jacobs carried five times at San Francisco, gained 3 yards -- and scored two touchdowns, both of the 1-yard variety. He now has 26 carries for 79 yards and five TDs on the season.

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