Three Cheers – and Seven Catches – for Amani

ATLANTA – You just knew that Amani Toomer would rebound. After being shut out against the Jets, Toomer erupted at the Georgia Dome with seven catches for 89 yards in leading New York to a convincing 31-10 victory over the Falcons.

"He's been a great player for a long time," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He made consistent plays tonight. I was glad to see Amani come back with a strong game."

Toomer got Big Blue off on the right foot, catching a five-yard TD pass to open the scoring for New York. Eli Manning made a conscious effort to get the ball to both Toomer and Jeremy Shockey (five catches, 63 yards) early in the game.

"I wasn't trying to force anything, but I definitely did want to get him involved," Manning said.

It was obvious that all of Toomer's teammates were very happy for him.

"He's just a professional," Manning said. "He was smiling after the game. He said to me that he forgot how rocky and up-and-down this game can be."

"I'm one of his biggest fans; I'm one of his biggest supporters," added Plaxico Burress, who chipped in with six catches for 97 yards.

With his final catch of the game, Toomer topped Tiki Barber and become the Giants all-time leader in receptions.

"To me, he's the best overall guy we have on this team," David Tyree said. "He's consistent and he's humble. I tip my hat to him."

In typical Toomer fashion, he downplayed becoming New York's all-time leading receiver in franchise history.

"I'm just really excited about this win tonight," he said. "I'm sure one day when I retire I'll be able to let it all soak in."

Sudden change success: The Giants defense twice turned the Falcons away after New York turnovers, which was one of the biggest keys to victory.

Atlanta took over at the New York 28-yard line after an Eli Manning fumble in the second quarter and did not score, losing two yards in three plays before Morten Andersen missed a field goal.

Again in the third quarter, Atlanta was set up at the New York 44 following a Manning interception. Yet, the defense held them three-and-out and forced a punt.

"To me, that was the biggest play of the game," MLB Antonio Pierce said. "A couple of times they got within field-goal range and got nothing out of it. A lot of credit goes to the defense and the coaches."

Norwood wide right: The Giants came into the game fully aware of the danger presented by Atlanta kickoff return man Jerious Norwood. No one could have had any complaints about what a good job Big Blue did in containing Norwood, who entered the game averaging more than 30 yards per kickoff return. New York held Norwood to a 17.4-yard average on five returns, with none going for more than 24 yards.

"I thought our special teams helped us out tonight," Coughlin said.

"We just did some smart things," Tyree added. "The corner kicks gave us a chance to get under it. We were more aggressive."

Tyree said that it "shouldn't have taken" the enormous breakdown against the Jets to wake up the kickoff coverage unit, but that it did "put more urgency" into everyone.

Apparently and understandably unhappy with the kickoff coverage performance against the Jets, the coaching staff inserted both newcomer WR Domenik Hixon and CB Kevin Dockery to the kickoff coverage team.

Close call: Jeff Feagles was none too happy about the roughing the punter penalty he ‘drew' on Falcons LB Demorrio Williams. Feagles was hit in the left calf right below his knee, while his leg was totally locked.

"He could have ended my career," said Feagles, who pointed to the flag on the ground after the infraction. "That's why they have 15-yard penalties. That was definitely unnecessary roughness."

Feagles was especially pleased that the Giants offense went right down the field and scored a touchdown, making Williams and his club pay for his foolish mistake.

Hats off: Justin Tuck punctuated his eight-yard sack by losing his helmet in the process. Tuck said he had no idea how he lost his headgear, but that he was just pleased he was able to wrap up Joey Harrington behind the line.

"I said ‘let me go get the sack and then I'll worry about getting the helmet,' " Tuck laughed. "In the heat of the moment you don't think about it. But I was checking my face when I was coming off the field to make sure I was OK."

Elite company: The Giants' victory over the Falcons was the 600th regular-season triumph in franchise history. With the victory New York becomes just the third team to reach the 600-win plateau. The other two teams are Chicago (673) and Green Bay (629). The Giants are now 600-502-33 all-time in the regular season.

Road warriors: The visiting team has now won the last 12 Giants-Falcons games, which is the longest such streak in NFL history. The Giants have won their last seven games in Atlanta, including a 27-14 victory last Oct. 15. They were last defeated in Atlanta on Oct. 1, 1978.

No unis: The following Giants were inactive against Atlanta: WR Steve Smith, who remains out with a shoulder injury, but is inching closer to a return; S Craig Dahl, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, OT Adam Koets, DE Dave Tollefson, DT Manny Wright and G Kevin Boothe. As has been the case the past few weeks, Jared Lorenzen was the third quarterback.

Parting shots:

"We've always known we are a good football team. We let everybody else doubt us. We have a lot of strong character guys on this team. We bounce back, and keep on fighting." – Giants DE Osi Umenyiora

"Four weeks ago, before we started the streak, everyone was down on us." – Giants WR Amani Toomer


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