Giants 'D' good news, bad news for Pack

The New York Giants will present the Packers with best and worst case scenarios Sunday in the regular-season finale in the Meadowlands. On one hand, Brett Favre has the opportunity to feast on a rookie-laden secondary which struggled against the Eagles last week. But in order for Favre to exploit the matchup and angle for a home playoff game, he'll have to steer clear of sack-master Michael Strahan's pursuit of an NFL record.<P>

Last week rookie cornerback Will Allen New York's first-round pick, was toasted by Philadelphia's James Thrash, who had seven catches for 143 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown. This week Allen and fellow rookie cornerback Will Peterson will get their NFL initiation against Favre, who has passed for 3,606 yards and 30 touchdowns through 15 games. Favre's receivers, erratic this season, returned to form last week during a memorable fourth-quarter drive.

"We'll be challenged this week with the top pass rusher in the league who's getting ready to break a record," Packers' Head Coach/GM Mike Sherman cautioned. And that might be an understatement.

Strahan had 3 1/2 sacks in last week's 24-21 loss to Philadelphia, raising his season total to 21 1/2 and topping the club record of 20 1/2 by Lawrence Taylor in 1986. Putting his moster numbers in perspective, consider that defensive end Mark Gastineau is the single-season leader with 22 for the New York Jets in 1984. Tim Harris holds the Packer mark with 19.5 in 1989. NFL career sack leader Reggie White's high-mark was 21 with Philadelphia in 1987; White had 16 for the Packers in 1998.

"(Strahan) is the best defensive player in the league, not only as a pass rusher, but his run game has improved from what I remember," Shermand said. "He's an all-around player and plays with great effort. It's going to take a heck of an effort to do that. Stopping him is not our goal, our goal is to win the game, but hopefully in the process we can keep him at bay." While a single sack is a likely possibility for Strahan, don't expect the Packers' offensive line to step aside and let him by.

Favre has been sacked just 21 times this season, the third-lowest total in the NFL. He has not been sacked more than twice in a game since the first game of the season.

"Protecting our quarterback is obviously one of the most important things they can do and they do it well," Sherman said of his o-line. "We're one of the league leaders with the (fewest) sacks given up, that's a tribute to our quarterback as well."

Mark Tauscher, who has not allowed a sack in the past six games, and Earl Dotson will match up against Strahan at right tackle. Tauscher moves to guard in the second and fourth quarters.

While Strahan is aiming for a record, end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has not fared too shabbily for the Packers with 13 1/2 sacks, second only to Strahan. Green Bay is tied with Pittsburgh and New Orleans with an NFL-best 51 sacks.

Green Bay's Ahman Green has a career-high 1,286 rushing yards and needs 189 to pass Jim Taylor for a club record. He has 1,861 scrimmage yards and needs 139 for the first 2,000-scrimmage yard season in team history. The teams last met in November 1998 and the Packers rolled to a 37-3 rout at Giants Stadium as Favre threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Green Bay leads the series, 23-20-2, including the last two. The clubs met for five NFL championships from 1938-62 with the Packers winning four.

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