New York Giants (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (2-0)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
SERIES: 12th meeting. The Giants lead, 7-4. They won two of the three games played since 2001, but the Seahawks prevailed in overtime last season.
2006 rankings: Giants: offense 3rd (6th rush, 4th pass); defense 29th (12th rush, 31st pass). Seahawks: offense 17th (10th rush, 18th pass); defense 4th (2nd rush, 15th pass)
*Keys to the game: If QB Eli Manning has time, look for him to attack CBs Kelly Herndon and Kelly Jennings. Seattle's offense will include at least a few plays with WR Deion Branch this week, but will be without injured LG Floyd Womack. The Seahawks' offensive line has struggled through two games and QB Matt Hasselbeck is taking far too many hits, so this could be the week OLB LaVar Arrington becomes more involved in the Giants' pass rush. LT Walter Jones was beaten for two sacks by DE Osi Umenyiora last year.
*Fast Facts: Giants: Are 14-3 in games leading into a bye week. ... WR Amani Toomer leads the NFL with 17 receptions. Seahawks: Have a franchise-record 11-game home winning streak and have won 22 of their past 25 games at Qwest Field. ... RB Shaun Alexander's 101 TDs is tied with Steve Largent for the most in franchise history.
--TE Jeremy Shockey re-sprained his ankle in Philadelphia, missed Wednesday's practice but went through the entire practice Thursday. Head coach Tom Coughlin said he would be listed as probable and that he had an excellent chance of playing Sunday in Seattle.
--WR Sinorice Moss, the second-round draft pick with blazing speed, re-injured his strained quad in his first action of the season in Philadelphia and may not suit up for the game in Seattle. He caught one pass for four yards, and also missed most of training camp as well as all four preseason games.
--LT Luke Petitgout will also be re-visiting a chamber of horrors of sorts. Last year in Seattle he was flagged five times for false start infractions and that could not entirely be blamed on the incredible noise generated in Qwest Field. He offered no excuses then and none this week.
--RB Brandon Jacobs figures to be getting more and more work as the season rolls on. He has shown great power and speed as Tiki Barber's backup and now that he has absorbed the playbook and blocking assignments, he will be more involved with the offense. He has carried 13 times in two games for 89 yards; he had 38 carries for 99 yards all last season.
--CB Sam Madison, signed from Miami during the UFA period last spring, has been a disappointment so far. He was burned several times by the Eagles, who threw in his direction 12 times compared to the two times they challenged the other corner, second-year Corey Webster. Lurking in the weeds are two possible replacements, R.W. McQuarters and Frank Walker.
--RB Shaun Alexander hopes to resume practicing Friday after resting his sore foot Wednesday and Thursday. "Football is a physical sport," Alexander said. "There is always going to be bumps and bruises. I believe that we all came to an agreement that this is the best way for me to be the healthiest." Alexander's foot has been bothering him since the season opener at Detroit. He practiced all last week and carried 26 times against the Cardinals on Sunday.
--RB Maurice Morris has proven effective in relief of MVP Shaun Alexander, who has been bothered by a sore foot. Alexander is still getting the bulk of the carries, including 26 last week, but Morris is more than just a capable backup. Look for Morris to continue to get some carries when Alexander needs a rest.
--TE Will Heller is taking the reps in practice this week because Jerramy Stevens remains out and Itula Mili is hurting. Mili hasn't practiced this week and might not play Sunday. Heller is extremely limited as a receiver.
--TE Itula Mili missed practice again Thursday. He's feeling better and might try to practice Friday, but for now it seems unlikely the veteran will play Sunday. Seattle is very thin at the position because starter Jerramy Stevens is out until October.
--TE Jerramy Stevens might not return until Seattle comes back from its bye with an Oct. 15 game at St. Louis. Stevens is recovering from knee surgery. He was expected back in early October, but the Seahawks do not play between Oct. 2 and Oct. 14. That leaves Oct. 15 as the most logical date for his return.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
The truth is that the New York Giants are more than just difficult to figure out, they are virtually impossible. They opened the season with a strong showing, played crisply and well, and lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 26-21, because of a few mistakes and a few calls by the officiating crew that challenged the imagination.
So they were 0-1 heading off to Philadelphia, always a backyard lead-pipes-and-chains rumble, and they played possibly the worst game they have played in two seasons. And they won, 30-24, despite doing almost everything wrong. So now they are 1-1 heading off to Seattle, where they played another impossible-to-describe game last season and lost, 24-21 in overtime, despite three chances at field goals that Jay Feely usually knocks off in his sleep.
So what is the common denominator here? What have they done during the losses that they haven't done when they win? It's Eli Manning, the young quarterback, and against the Eagles last week he may have reached manhood, NFL-style.
"I have never seen him in that much control," said defensive end Michael Strahan, the oft-selected Pro Bowler. "He was in charge. He had a look on his face. The guys in the (offensive) huddle were talking about him differently."
During the comeback, which took most of the fourth quarter and most of the overtime period, Manning completed 13 consecutive passes (one spike notwithstanding). He completed two passes the team and coaches were still talking about days later -- a 20-yarder to wide receiver Tim Carter as he was falling down with a defender around his legs, and he threw it sidearm into a crowd; and the game-winning, game-ending touchdown, a 31-yard out pattern to wide receiver Plaxico Burress that was thrown so that only the 6-5 Burress, and not the 5-10 Sheldon Brown, who was isolated on him, could catch.
"On the money," said head coach Tom Coughlin. "Wow, what a game."
The Seahawks gave running back Shaun Alexander another day of rest Thursday, a move designed to let the MVP's sore foot recover. He remained probable on the injury report. "Football is a physical sport," Alexander said. "There is always going to be bumps and bruises. I believe that we all came to an agreement that this is the best way for me to be the healthiest."
Alexander's foot has been bothering him since the season opener at Detroit. He practiced all last week and carried 26 times against the Cardinals on Sunday. Running back Maurice Morris has proven effective in relief, although Alexander is still getting most of the carries.
Alexander said he expects to practice Friday. He did not provide specifics on how his foot became injured. "Playing football, people fall on you," he said. "I can't tell you it was this play or that; I just know how it happened. It is just football. Football is physical."
Soreness is different from being injured. "The good thing about soreness is that it does stop," Alexander said. "It is a lot better today than it was the last two weeks."
Alexander has averaged 70 yards per game this season. He averaged 117.5 yards during his MVP season of 2005. The team has had some instability at left guard since losing Steve Hutchinson to the Vikings. Floyd Womack started the season there and struggled before suffering an injury. Chris Spencer, a first-round pick last year, is the new starter.
The team also lost Ryan Hannam, its best blocking tight end, and Joe Jurevicius, its best blocking receiver. "Our running game is fine," Alexander said. "Anytime you get new people involved, it changes things. I think that it won't be long until all of it jells. Hopefully it starts this week."
Does he miss Hutchinson?
"I was like that after the trade, but now it is over with," Alexander said. "I won't have to worry about what Steve is doing. Steve is making a whole lot of money blocking for some other guy."