Hot Topic and Player Notes: Giants

The New York Giants, still tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East at 7-3, fly across the country this weekend to take on the Seattle Seahawks, first place in the NFC West.

The Giants, who have made a practice of shutting down most of their opponents' rushing game (with the glaring exception of San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, who got 196) will have another major test when they attempt to slow Seattle's Shaun Alexander.

And that will be the key of the game for them, because if they can hold Alexander to less than mind-boggling numbers, they should be able to curtail the Seahawks' passing game.

"If you make a team one-dimensional," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said, "you put them under pressure, you make them do things they don't want to do. And that usually works to your advantage."

This will be the third of four cross-country trips for the Giants, and so far they are 1-1, having lost to the Chargers and beaten San Francisco. They have one more remaining after the Seattle game, a New Year's Eve affair in Oakland.

The Giants are now one of only three teams in the history of the NFL to have won 600 games (Chicago and Green Bay are the others) and their victory over Philadelphia gave them one more than they had all last season with six games still to play. Beating Seattle would send them home to play Dallas in a showdown division game, with the Cowboys coming off their Thanksgiving home game against Denver.


The Giants won their 600th game since joining the NFL in 1925, won their first game after the death of co-owner Robert Tisch, extended the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles' losing streak to four and finally gave up a defensive touchdown for the first time in more than 16 quarters.

They won 27-17 as the defense once again made good on its stated intent -- to stop the other team's running game. In this case, it was somewhat easier, since with the loss of quarterback Donovan McNabb and wide receiver Terrell Owens, there isn't much air under the Philadelphia aerial game.

Star running back Brian Westbrook was held to 66 yards in 16 carries, but he did add four receptions for 57 yards. Reserve quarterback Mike McMahon completed 18 of 39 passes for the Eagles for 298 yards and a touchdown, and also scored on a 1-yard run.

The Giants' Tiki Barber carried 21 times for 112 yards and pushed his season total to 967 yards rushing in 10 games. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress caught six passes for 113 yards, including a 61-yarder for the Giants' final points. Eli Manning, still struggling at times in his second season, completed 17 of 26 passes for 218 yards, but he threw three touchdown passes and wasn't intercepted (he threw four picks last week). His QB rating for the game was an astounding 130.

Tight end L.J. Smith, a teammate of McMahon at Rutgers, led Eagles receivers with seven catches for 84 yards, but his failure to catch a touchdown pass prevented the NFL's first-ever Rutgers-to-Rutgers touchdown.


--OLT Luke Petitgout left the Eagles game at the end of the second quarter with what was described as "an injury to his knee." There was no detailed information available, but he was more than adequately replaced by veteran free agent Bob Whitfield, in his 14th season.

--C Shaun O'Hara, a teammate of Mike McMahon at Rutgers, left the game with 6:47 left in the third quarter with a sprained ankle. He was replaced by Jason Whittle.

--WR Amani Toomer, who had six catches for 56 yards and a TD, smiled at his locker after the game. "I know teams go into our game saying that they have to double-team (WR Plaxico) Burress and they have to double-team (TE Jeremy) Shockey, so they decide to let Amani beat 'em. I'm up to that challenge."

--Coach Tom Coughlin said that the Giants began to come out of their doldrums because of Robert Tisch's death, which came three weeks after the passing of the other co-owner, Wellington Mara, and that the end of the week was marked by intensified enthusiasm to win, "to do what we did for Mr. Mara." The Giants won their first game after Mara's death, a 36-0 shutout of the Washington Redskins.

--WR Plaxico Burress was heavy on the praise for QB Eli Manning. "He never gets down," he said after the win over Philadelphia. "When a play doesn't work, he rushes back to the huddle as if it never happened. He's learning from game to game and getting better each week."

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