Good Diehl – Giants OL answers bell

For much of this season, the Giants have been extremely fortunate with the health of their starting offensive linemen. Lately, that's gone to pot in a big way. New York lost the services of both starting tackles for much of its key overtime victory in Philadelphia – yet Big Blue didn't miss a beat.

Luke Petitgout succumbed to a back injury – insert Bob Whitfield.

A bad hamstring knocked Kareem McKenzie from the lineup – insert Jason Whittle at left guard and move David Diehl from left guard to right tackle.

"I have all the faith in my offensive linemen," Eli Manning said. "I know Diehl obviously played tackle last year, he knows what he's doing, knows the offense, played the position, so I felt comfortable with him at tackle and Jason Whittle at guard. Those guys have played for us and played well. Those guys played outstanding."

After the game, Whitfield, who played well despite jumping offsides three times, bristled at the notion that he's a backup.

"I'm ready to go," he said. "If I have to play, I'll play. Like Roy Jones said, ‘they must have forgot.' I've only been a backup recently. I've been a starter for 12 years."

The veteran tackle said the Lincoln Financial Field noise was the reason for his false start penalties.

"You didn't see me (screw) up in the middle of the field," he said.

Whitfield was disappointed that he didn't get his usual five or six knockdowns, but said all in all the line played well.

"Everybody filled in where we needed them to," he said. "We know our stuff. We easily shifted. We're a better line now. We know we can do this."

Diehl, however, was the star of the show. He was moved early in the game and immediately found himself face up with Eagles pass-rush terror Jevon Kearse.

"I was thinking about what I had to do, not what he had to do," Diehl said.

Not long after he shifted to RT, Diehl suffered a stinger that numbed half his upper body, but due to New York's lack of depth, he had no option but to stay in the game. Tom Coughlin even called a timeout to give Diehl a few extra moments to gather himself.

"You never want out," Diehl said "You only leave if you have to."

"I give a lot of credit to David Diehl," Tiki Barber said.

Fortunately for New York, the O-line answered the bell when called upon.

"That's the great thing about our guys," Diehl said. "We have guys that have experience and ability. You can't ask for anything more."

Barber specifically benefited from the help of another offensive lineman – center Shaun O'Hara. On Barber's four-yard TD reception to open the game's scoring, he got quite a push from O'Hara, who helped Barber bowl over Eagles safety Brian Dawkins and cross the goal line.

"A little bit," Barber smiled when asked about getting a helping hand. "To have a big guy like that coming behind you helps a ton."

The big play: The game totally changed in overtime when Osi Umenyiora, who now has 12.5 sacks on the year, stripped Eagles QB Mike McMahon, giving the Giants wonderful field position in OT.

"I saw (McMahon) running away from Carlos Emmons, and it was just a good play, I guess," Umenyiora said. "I was in the right place at the right time."

Reserve DT Kenderick Allen continued his recent stretch of clutch plays when he recovered the ball at the Philly 27-yard line.

"My first thought was I had to get it," Allen said. "I saw it coming out and I just went over there and got it. I got about three to five yards…it might have been six or seven because I'm so fast."

Red zone woes: Once again, the Giants were not pleased with their offensive results in the red zone. Big Blue got inside Philly's 20-yard line on six occasions and only came away with two touchdowns and four field goals.

"We moved the ball offensively but didn't get a lot of points," Coughlin said.

The Giants entered the game ranked 16th in the NFL in red-zone offense, scoring TDs on exactly 50 percent of their opportunities. Barber knows that improvement in that area is a must for future success.

"I'm very disappointed because of our inconsistency in the red zone," Barber stated. "It's easy between the 20s. We were in the red zone too many times to come away with only (26) points. If we continue this way, it will come back to haunt us."

Walking wounded: In addition to Petitgout and McKenzie, the Giants also had to deal with the loss of MLB Antonio Pierce, who injured his ankle, and DT William Joseph, who returned to the lineup after a three-week absence, took only a handful of snaps and returned to the sideline with a leg injury. Fred Robbins jumped right back in for Joseph and played perhaps his best game of the year, posting four tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Inactives: Newcomer Terrell Buckley was given a uniform and Frank Walker, who had two costly penalties early in last week's game against Dallas, was deactivated. New York's other inactives were: Shaun Williams, who returned to practice last week, but wasn't healthy enough to play, LB Alonzo Jackson, G Rich Seubert, WR Jamaar Taylor, DE Adrian Awasom and DT Damane Duckett. Jared Lorenzen was the third quarterback.

Ponder back: Willie Ponder knew early in the week that he'd be back in the lineup as New York's primary kickoff returner. Ponder averaged 19 yards on five returns, and said he was affected by his absence.

"I felt a little rusty, but I got right back in the groove," Ponder said.

Ponder said he's never been told why he was removed in the first place, but that ball security could have been the issue.

"They've been harping on me about ball security," he said, "but I don't think I have problems on ball security."

How sweep it is: The Giants swept the Eagles for the first time since 2000 and continued a tradition of series sweeps. In the last 21 season series from 1985-2005, 19 ended in sweeps. The teams split their season series in 1990 and 2002. The Giants swept in 1985, '86, '87, '93, '94, '97, '98, '99, and 2000 (plus a playoff game). Philadelphia won both games in 1988, '89, '91, '92, '95, '96, 2001, '03, and '04. The Giants lead the regular season series that began in 1933, 75-65-2, and the postseason series, 2-0.

Crunch time: Barber said he wants all of his mates to realize that there is no longer any margin for error, and that every single member of the team must give 100 percent at all times.

"It's imperative that every game mean the world to us," he said.

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