A heaping helping of Tuesday Whispers

The only team that was able to move the ball consistently against the Pittsburgh Steelers top-ranked defense this season was surprisingly the New York Giants.<p>

We asked a source close to the Giants what was the key to Big Blue's ability to put up 30 points on the Steelers.

"[The Giants] basically mixed the run and pass almost evenly,' said the source. "That was the first game they scaled the playbook back for Eli Manning so they ran a lot of stuff he was comfortable with. There was lots of short crossing stuff and a lot of play-action, which they were able to hit a couple deep balls off. Manning did a great job of avoiding the blitz, and getting rid of the ball quickly, which left holes in the middle of the defense. The Giants seemed to have the Steelers defense off guard from the get-go."

That fact that the play-action worked, is obviously positive news for Chad Pennington, who excels in that department.

The Giants were surprisingly able to run the ball against the Steelers stout Front Seven.

"The Giants linemen after the game were surprised at how the Steelers linebackers overpursued in the run game," said the source.

One of the biggest challenges for the Jets this week is dealing with the fatigue factor after consecutive overtime games. Compounding the fatigue issue is the fact the Steelers will be well-rested. Not only did the Steelers have a bye-week in the first round of the playoffs, but they also rested a lot of starters in their final game, their win at Buffalo.

Herman Edwards gave his players off Sunday and Monday to help them recover.

"These guys need some rest and (time) to heal up," said Edwards . . .

Edwards admitted the day after the game Santana Moss hurt his hamstring last week in practice. Why wasn't he listed on the injury report? He should have been, because he didn't practice on Thursday, but the Jets have been very secretive with injuries this year.

"It was (last) Wednesday," said Edwards about Moss' injury. "He ran a bunch of takeoffs, those routes that he ran in the game. We were working on those in practice. He fatigued it a little bit. So he didn't practice the next day." . . .

One of the best play-calls in the Charger game was the touchdown pass to Anthony Becht. Pennington and Becht sold this perfectly.

"It was a blitz," said Edwards. "And the guy that had Becht, I think [linebacker Donnie Edwards] thought he was going to block him. So when Becht blocked him, the guy rushed. And then Becht just turned out. Chad made a great read." . . .

The sideline argument in San Diego between Edwards and running back coach Bishop Harris is still getting a lot of attention. Here is a Q-and-A with Edwards about the exchange that stemmed from a disagreement over the platoon system of Curtis Martin and Lamont Jordan.

Q)You've never been shown on television before arguing on the sidelines. You did it last night. What can you tell us about it? Did you and Bishop talk about it afterwards?

Edwards: Well, we hugged and made up. But it's a family feud. It was a family matter. It was, hey, the playoffs. The other side came out of me, the side that I have in me at times. I guess it shocked a lot of people to see. I got a lot of calls on that. But there's another side to me that sometimes comes out every once in a while.

Q)How often have the players seen that side?

Edwards: Probably this is the first time.

Q)Was it over running backs?

Edwards: Family matter.

Q)Was that Jerald Sowell's best block of the day, getting in between you two?

Edwards: Told him, I said, "You got to get a little lower if you're going to block me, partner." . . .

After the game, Harris was approached by Daily News reporter Rich Cimini, but declined comment . . .

While the Steelers starting receivers will be a handful for the Jets to cover, an even bigger problem might be presented by slot receiver Antwaan Randle-El. Starting wideouts Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress are both excellent players, but neither possesses great speed, so the Jets secondary, devoid of fast players, should be able to hang with these guys. However, Randle El is a different story. He has great quickness, and terrific moves, and could present major problems in the slot. If the Jets play rookie Derrick Strait at nickel back, like they did last week, the crafty Randle El should be able to take advantage of the rookie's inexperience . . .

People around the Jets were raving about how well Pennington threw the ball in practice last week. Some people thought they might have been blowing smoke, but those reports turned out to be accurate based on his performance in San Diego.

"I felt good all week physically," said Pennington."

If Pennington feels good again this week, he should be able to make a lot happen against the Steelers cornerbacks. DeShea Townsend is playing with a broken arm, and Chad Scott just came back from a knee injury, and isn't 100 percent . . .

The Jets offensive tackles, who have taken turns struggling recently, need to bring their A-game to Pittsburgh for the Jets to have a chance to win this game. The Steelers blitzing 3-4 attack can present a lot of problems in protection. Left tackle Jason Fabini played very well in San Diego after struggling the previous two games with four sacks and four penalties. But right tackle Kareem McKenzie struggled against San Diego, giving up two sacks and getting flagged for a penalty. These two did a decent job in the first Jets-Steelers game this year . . .

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