Strahan survives serious scare

Raiders RT Chad Slaughter threw a scare into New York and its most valuable defender when he got his hands up in Michael Strahan's facemask and drew blood around Strahan's left eye. An angry Strahan shouted at Slaughter before heading to the sideline. "I've never seen him that hot before," Osi Umenyiora said. "He was steaming."

Strahan returned to action later in the game and immediately received an apology from Slaughter.

"He was apologizing the second I got off the ground so I don't think it was anything malicious," Strahan said.

After the game, defensive coordinator Tim Lewis playfully joked with Strahan, who looked like he had just gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson, saying, "Rocky Balboa, good job."

Strahan, still sporting a pretty impressive mouse after game, admitted he was very scared at the time.

"It was dangerous because it was by the head," Strahan said. "You can end someone's career by poking them in the eye."

Strahan recalled how former Giants center Brian Williams was inadvertently poked in the eye by Bernard Holsey during training camp years ago and never played again.

"That ended his career," Strahan said.

Fitting tribute: Several Giants from head coach Tom Coughlin on down mentioned the divisional title as a tribute to the organization's two recently deceased owners, Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch.

"We are the NFC East champs," said Coughlin, proudly wearing a white NFC East champion hat. "We honor them with this divisional title."

After the game, John Mara said the title was "bittersweet."

"I would have rather had my father standing there in the doorway," Mara said. "He would have enjoyed this."

Unfinished business: While the Giants were ecstatic to capture the NFC East title, to a man they all pointed to a lengthy postseason run as their true goal. That quest kicks off Sunday when they host the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m.

"We've got more work to do," Coughlin said.

"This is a whole new season," Manning said. "This is where it all counts."

"Now the second season starts," John Mara said. "Hopefully it will last all the way through January."

The Giants enter the playoffs brimming with confidence.

"We feel we can beat anybody," Osi Umenyiora said.

"We know we can beat anybody on any given Sunday," Barber added.

For Strahan, he and his club took the division title in stride.

"It was a low-key celebration because we're just starting," Strahan said. "We're not finished yet. We have four more games to reach what we want to reach."

Manning said he was just pleased that Big Blue would be playing in the friendly confines of Giants Stadium, where they are 8-1 this season.

"We've been good at home," he said. "Hopefully we can use that to our advantage."

Scoring machine: The Giants finished the season with 422 points, the second-highest total in team history. It is only the second time in 81 seasons the Giants scored more than 400 points. The team record of 488 points was set in 1963.

The Giants scored 45 touchdowns, their highest total since the 1985 team scored 48.

Kicker Jay Feely nailed three field goals and three extra points to increase his Giants-record total to 148 points. That is a career high for Feely, whose previous best was 138 points with Atlanta in 2002.

Throwin' the flag: The Giants committed nine penalties for 70 yards and finished the season with franchise-record totals of 143 penalties and 1,115 yards.

Postseason party: The Giants' playoff berth is the franchise's 27th, which ties Dallas and the Cleveland/Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams for the most in NFL history.

Coughlin has now led his team to the playoffs in five of his 10 seasons as an NFL head coach. He is 4-4 in the playoffs.

Good omen? The Giants finished their regular season with games at Washington and Oakland. The last time their last two games were on the road was 1990, when they won at Phoenix and New England. That team went on to win Super Bowl XXV.

Rookie's big chance: Second-round pick Corey Webster was finally inserted into the lineup at right cornerback in place of Curtis Deloatch, who's had a rough go of late. Webster had a pretty long evening, including being beaten by Randy Moss for a 15-yard TD in the first quarter. He finished with four tackles and a pass breakup.

Shockey out: The Giants were forced to play their season finale without Jeremy Shockey, who was out with an ankle injury. Visanthe Shiancoe started in his place, and jumped offsides early in the game and again in the fourth quarter. He later dropped an easy pass. However, Shank wasn't a total detriment; he caught a 16-yard pass late in the first quarter.

After the game Coughlin expressed optimism that his Pro Bowl tight end would be ready for the playoffs. "We're very hopeful that he'll be back," he said.

Super K-Lew: On the street earlier in the week, former and current Giants middle linebacker Kevin Lewis stepped in and showed himself well. He finished with four tackles – and a couple big sticks – while manning the middle of New York's defense.

"He's to be congratulated," Coughlin said. "He played very well."

Ailing Robbins: DT Fred Robbins, who was in the lineup for the injured William Joseph, left the contest in the first half with a hamstring injury and never returned. He was replaced by Kenderick Allen, who finished with three tackles.

LBs at a premium: As expected, New York started the game with only Nick Greisen among its usual starting linebackers, with Antonio Pierce (high ankle sprain), Reggie Torbor (hamstring) on the inactive list and Carlos Emmons (pec) on Injured Reserve. As a result, Greisen started at WLB and ended up with a game-high eight solo tackles, newly-signed Kevin Lewis manned the middle (four stops) and Alonzo Jackson played on the strong side (four tackles).

The rest of New York's inactives were: CB Frank Walker, OL Lewis Kelly, WR Tim Carter and DT William Joseph. Jared Lorenzen was the club's third quarterback.

Lookin' ahead: Because they finished in first place, the Giants will play the following opponents in 2006:

Home: Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Houston and Indianapolis.

Away: Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington, Atlanta, Carolina, Seattle, Jacksonville and Tennessee.

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