Giant WRs Fume at Poor Officiating

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants' starting receivers hope the officiating in Tampa is better than it was at times Saturday night.

Amani Toomer was stunned when reporters informed him after their 38-35 loss to the Patriots that a costly personal foul early in the fourth quarter was actually called against him.

Replays indicated that Patriots rookie cornerback Brandon Meriweather tripped either over his own feet or inadvertently got his legs tangled with backup quarterback Jared Lorenzen after tackling kick returner Domenik Hixon near the Giants' sideline. An official oddly decided, however, that Toomer, who never touched Meriweather, was guilty of a shove that sent Meriweather to the turf. The 15-yard penalty forced the Giants, down 31-28, to start their next-to-last drive at their 23, with 11:06 left in the game.

"I was trying to explain to the referee what happened," an incredulous Toomer said, "and they thought since I was explaining to him what happened, that he tripped over the referee's foot, he must've thought that I … but I didn't touch him. Well, well, that's going to be tough. I don't know. That's a tough one (to explain). They really called that on me? I didn't touch the guy. Wow! Wow! Wow! That's unbelievable. Unbelievable. I didn't touch the guy."

Plaxico Burress was also disgusted because pass interference wasn't called on cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who clearly pulled Burress down by the jersey, causing an Eli Manning incompletion on a first-and-goal play from New England's 3-yard line late in the second quarter. The Giants scored a touchdown on the following play, but Burress still couldn't hide his displeasure after the game.

"That's some of the worst officiating I've seen in my eight years," Burress said. "The referee told me that he thought I was backing into the guy, when the guy was pulling me down to the ground. … I mean, those guys, they're working, too, but they're not working as hard as they need to be."

Another ‘Boss' rocks Giants Stadium: Rookie TE Kevin Boss showed signs of improvement in just his second start for injured Jeremy Shockey.

Boss had caught only five passes for 68 yards in the Giants' first 15 games, but he hauled in four passes for 50 yards in the second quarter against New England. On the Giants' last drive of the first half, the fifth-round pick out of Western Oregon gracefully got both feet in bounds on a 23-yard reception, added a seven-yard catch three plays later and then shook SS Rodney Harrison's coverage near the goal line to catch a three-yard touchdown pass from Manning that put the Giants in front again (21-16), with only 13 seconds to play before halftime.

The 6-6, 253-pound Boss didn't catch a pass in the second half, but succeeding in a high-profile game definitely helped him heading into his first NFL postseason experience.

"I'm just starting to get more and more comfortable," Boss said. "I'm starting to be able to see more, to see what the defense is doing more. With every game and with every rep, I'm feeling more confident. The game is starting to slow down, I'm starting to build more confidence and I'm just excited to play another game and keep going. … I'm just trying to pick up the slack with Jeremy (injured). You can't replace him, but I'm just trying to do my best."

Wilkinson was prepared: Second-year WLB Gerris Wilkinson had barely played on defense this season, but he contributed consistently after starter Kawika Mitchell suffered a sprained knee in the first quarter.

Wilkinson dropped RB Laurence Maroney for a four-yard loss late in the first quarter, used his helmet to defend what would've been another Tom Brady-to-Randy Moss touchdown pass late in the second quarter and dumped Kevin Faulk, Maroney's backup, for a two-yard loss early in the third quarter.

"I played all right," Wilkinson said. "It might've looked good on TV, but I had some mental errors out there, some stuff I've got to get straightened out. But being that it was my first game really getting some action, it was nice to get out there and make some plays, try to help this team out. It felt good to go out there and make some plays, but I've got to get better before (the Tampa Bay game)."

Three starters injured: In addition to the sprained knees that left Mitchell and C Shaun O'Hara questionable for the Wild Card game against the Bucs, RCB Sam Madison suffered an abdominal strain in the fourth quarter, an injury that coach Tom Coughlin indicated was part of the reason Moss was so open on his 65-yard touchdown catch that helped New England go ahead for good early in the fourth quarter.

"I'll be all right," Madison said. "I'll make it."

Backup SS Craig Dahl also suffered a sprained knee while covering a kickoff early in the first quarter and didn't return to the game.

The end zone: The defeat definitely didn't shake the Giants' confidence. "They did well against us and we did well against them," RB Brandon Jacobs said. "But I still don't think that they're a better football team than we are." . . . Jacobs finished his first season as a starter with 1,009 rushing yards, despite missing nearly six full games. . . . Manning tied his career-high by throwing four touchdowns in a game for the third time. . . . RB-KR Ahmad Bradshaw (calf), CB Kevin Dockery (hip flexor) and WR Sinorice Moss (back) were the regular contributors who were not active for the game. . . . The Giants lost their fourth consecutive home game and finished 3-5 at Giants Stadium for the second straight season. . . . The Patriots hadn't surrendered more than 28 points in any of their first 15 games before facing the Giants. . . . Coughlin lost a replay challenge in the first quarter to finish 4-5 on challenges during the 2007 season. He is 15-22 on replay challenges in four seasons as the Giants' coach.

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