Hot Topic and Player Notes: Giants

Following his heroic performance in leading the Giants back to victory in Philadelphia after entering the fourth quarter on the wrong end of a 24-7 score, Eli Manning has suddenly become the topic of conversation around the league.

Wide receiver Plaxico Burress, the beneficiary of the game-winning, game-ending overtime touchdown pass, has been known to be critical of his teammates, especially Manning, in very public situations.

He appeared more than just impressed. "We had studied the Eagles' defense all week," he said, "and we knew that when they get you in a third and long, they pretty much want to bring the house in (all-out blitz, which is a trademark of Eagles' defensive coordinator Jim Johnson). Eli just looked out there and then he looked at me and then he gave me the 'go' (route) signal. He was cool and poised, under control. I was impressed."

Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan, who originally protested the monster trade that brought Manning to the Giants on draft day of 2004 and cost the Giants the presence of veteran Kerry Collins, has become a huge fan.

"I think we can definitely go far with him," he said. "There are not a ton of quarterbacks you can have confidence in to come back like that. I think last year and now continuing into this year he is showing great composure and maturity. He is able to get the job done sometimes when things don't look good. He is going to be a great quarterback in this league for a long time."

Eagles Cornerback Sheldon Brown, who was victimized for the game-winning touchdown, offered grudging praise as well. "Our guys up front did a great job getting pressure on him but he kept his poise and made some throws. He did a good job."

Giants coach Tom Coughlin has always supported Manning, has frequently expressed admiration for his learning ability and determination, and now says this: "He has taken the full load of what we had to teach him. He is ready now to be a great quarterback."

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Eli Manning, with the victory over the Eagles, improved his career starting record to 13-12. He was 1-6 in 2004 when, as a rookie, he took over the final seven games from Kurt Warner, who was there just to keep his seat warm. Then last year, his first full season as a starter, he was 11-5 and won the NFC East. This year he is 1-1.

--RB Tiki Barber, held to 51 yards vs. the Eagles, suffered his first under-100-yard game since 2004 when he gained 38 in a game against the Redskins. But he did finish over 100 yards in run-reception yardage (108).

--TE Jeremy Shockey re-injured his sprained ankle and was listed as probable for Sunday's game in Seattle. "It's the same deal it was a week before," said coach Tom Coughlin. "He'll practice when he can and there is no reason to expect that he won't play." Nevertheless, it appears the Giants' bye in Week 4 will come just in time for Shockey to recuperate.

--WR Amani Toomer was the iron man hero of the game. He caught 12 passes for 137 yards and two TDs and afterwards had to be helped from the field and needed four bags of IV fluid to be administered. "When Plax caught the winning pass," he smiled wanly, "I just lay there on the ground. I couldn't have made it through another play."

--WR Tim Carter, the third man in, recovered a Plaxico Burress fumble in the Eagles' end zone for the TD that tightened the margin to 24-14. "I saw him fumble when (safety Brian) Dawkins knocked it loose," he said, "and I thought I better get after that ball just in case nobody else falls on it."

--Pro Bowl DE Osi Umenyiora recorded his first sack of the season, and the only one the Giants had all game. They had just one the previous week, giving them two for the season, a long way from the 41 they had last season (when Umenyiora had 14.5).

--WLB Carlos Emmons, who came closer than the coaches will admit to getting waived in the final cuts, led the Giants with 11 tackles against one of the two previous teams for which he had played. The third was Washington, giving the 11-year veteran a strictly NFC East experience.

--RG Chris Snee, who suffered a sprained ankle in the opening game against Indianapolis, was considered questionable to play last week. He did play, however, and started. "It wasn't so bad and it wasn't so painful," he said. "Their defense beat up our line pretty bad, the game wasn't looking so good there for a while. But we just stuck together and got through it."

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