Cramps Knock 319-Pounder From Game

The Real Diehl – David Diehl will be the first to tell you that he's started 83 consecutive games. It rolled right off his tongue after the Giants' opening-round playoff win in Tampa. When one plays in the rough and tumble trenches of such a physical game like football, that is, indeed, quite an accomplishment.

However, Diehl, an admitted ‘sweater,' was knocked from the lineup during the game's second half due to cramps. And boy did he ever hear it from his teammates for that one.

"For all things for me to come out for, cramping," Diehl smiled. "I was obviously mad."

Diehl, who took in plenty of intravenous fluids before, during and after the game, was able to laugh about being briefly forced to the sideline.

"This is my 83rd straight start," he said. "You don't ever want to come out. It sucked."

So did Diehl having to watch Guy Whimper temporarily holding down his left tackle spot.

"I don't even know how much Gatorade I drank so I could get back in and finish the game," he said.

Now Diehl wants to see if the Giants can finally get things straight against the Cowboys.

"You always think about it," he said. "You always hope when things don't go your way that you get another opportunity. This is our opportunity."

Stray came to play – Hats off to Michael Strahan, who played like a 26-year-old against the Bucs. Statistically, Strahan finished with a team-high nine tackles, a sack, three QB hits and a forced fumble. Simply put, he was all over the place.

"Big win, great win," Strahan said. "It means we get to play another day. I think we can be excited about it but we got a big test next week. All I'm focused on is next week already. We're going to be happy with this win because the Bucs are a good team and it's hard to win here at their place but we're thinking about Dallas right now."

As you'll read elsewhere in this issue, Strahan has decided that he will make up his mind on his future by March, so he doesn't hold up the Giants like he did last year. After watching him play in Tampa, there's no question that Strahan still has plenty left in the tank and could play well past this season. For his sake, hopefully he'll have conviction when he makes the final call. However, for the sake of Giants fans and from a purely selfish standpoint, it sure would be nice to see him lace ‘em up for at least another season.

One aspect of Strahan's game that might need a little work is his eyesight. After the game, he thought it was Ronde Barber playfully waving to him from the back of his press conference. Instead, it was actually Tiki Barber, who was in town and watched the game from Ronde's luxury box.

Coordination – While the players are the ones that ultimately decide the outcome of the game, there's no question that both Giants coordinators – Kevin Gilbride and Steve Spagnuolo – deserve plenty of credit as well. Both men called a terrific game. Offensively, the Giants used a very good mix of run and pass. Eli Manning managed a short passing game and wasn't put in a position to make any mistakes. Defensively, Spags had his guys coming from all angles at various times, enough so that Jeff Garcia admitted that he was affected by all the various blitzes and stunts.

AttaGerris – Gerris Wilkinson continues to take advantage of his playing time, earning more and more in the process. He finished the game with seven tackles, five of which were solo stops. We all knew he was athletic and could run well. But Wilkinson had been real good at being in the right place and taking the correct angles to ball-carriers. While Kawika Mitchell was able to play, Wilkinson, who filled in more than admirably after Mitchell was injured against the Pats, continued to get plenty of reps. It's nice to see younger players – and good guys – getting their big chance, especially at such an important time of the season.

On deck – While the oddsmakers already have installed Dallas as a 7.5-point favorite, it would not be surprising at all to see Big Blue emerge victorious. The Boys haven't exactly sprinted to the finish line, losing two of their final three games. The Bucs stumbled and bumbled their way into the postseason and were summarily dismissed. This is in no way, shape or form an attempt to compare Tampa Bay and Dallas, but the Cowboys could certainly be victims of not only a lack of momentum, but a little rust as well when the Giants come calling on Sunday.

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