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Sunday Night Football: Redskins @ Giants, 8pm
13 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2007 - 12:51AM #1
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13 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2007 - 12:52AM #2
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Michael EisenWin and In
By Michael Eisen,

December 14, 2007

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. ⁈“Twelve weeks ago, the Giants traveled to Maryland to play the Washington Redskins with improvement their primary goal, particularly for one unit that was not playing to its potential. At the time, the Giants were 0-2, with a defense that had allowed an NFL-high 80 points.

WR Plaxico Burress will look to duplicate last week's performance this Sunday against the Redskins. (Getty)

After spotting the Redskins 17 points in the first half, the Giants shut them out in the third and fourth quarters to earn a 24-17 victory. That victory turned their season around. The Giants have won nine of their last 11 games and now stand at 9-4.

On Sunday night, they will host the Redskins in what is expected to be a frigid Giants Stadium. Since their first game against Washington, so much has changed. Yet so much remains the same.

This time, the Giants can put an exclamation point on their comeback by clinching a postseason berth with a victory. It would be their third playoff appearance in a row, just the third time in franchise history they would achieve that feat.

But the Giants have followed the lead of their head coach and made the playoff carrot little more than an ancillary goal this week. Of course, they yearn to be postseason participants. But as they were in September, the primary objectives remain defeating the opponent, improving the overall quality of their play and jump-starting a unit that has played below its capability. This time, it⁈⁚s the offense. At the same time, the Giants want to re-establish a home field advantage.

If they do all that, the postseason will follow.

⁈Å"I⁈⁚m worried about trying to be the best you can to beat the Washington Redskins, who are a very good football team,⁈  Coach Tom Coughlin said. ⁈Å"I know what everyone would like to ask and talk about this week. Our concern has always been the next opponent, the next game. And that is the exactly the way it remains. Because if you work hard and prepare yourself and have an opportunity to win and you win the game, other things take care of themselves. There is no sense in cluttering the focus with other issues that really are not a fact unless you take care of the business at hand.⁈ 

The players have clearly taken Coughlin⁈⁚s message to heart.

⁈Å"If you go after the carrot, you will get the head stuck in the trap,⁈  defensive end Michael Strahan said. ⁈Å"For us, we just have to continue to do what we have been doing, one game at a time. This is a tough team, a team that is going to continue to come after us, continue to play hard, and they have done that. They won last week, so they are going to come in with some confidence. We are going to have to focus on that.⁈ 

⁈Å"We have to play the game,⁈  center Shaun O⁈⁚Hara said. ⁈Å"Everybody else out there can put the cart before the horse. As players, we can⁈⁚t do that. As a prime example, look at the Patriots and the way they⁈⁚ve handled their season. From the coach to Tom Brady down to the 53rd man on the roster, they talk about winning one game. I think we⁈⁚ve really tried to establish that mentality this week. If the playoff berth is clinched as a result of our good play, then so be it. But I think we have to focus on playing good football, and the rest will take care of itself.⁈ 

Since its poor start, the Giants⁈⁚ defense has become one of the league⁈⁚s best. The Giants are seventh in the NFL in yards allowed, at 302.8 per game. They have risen from 32nd to 12th in points surrendered (now 20.8 a game). The defense has carried the Giants to the cusp of⁈ ¦well, you know.

⁈Å"I don⁈⁚t know what you are talking about. Clinch what?⁈  linebacker Antonio Pierce said. ⁈Å"I thought we were 0-2 and the worst defense in the league. All we are focusing on is the Washington Redskins, a divisional game with a team that is still in the hunt to have a winning season and we are trying to prevent them from having that.⁈ 

They may need more scoring than the offense has provided recently. The Giants have not scored more than 21 points in any of their last six games. In three of their last four victories, they have scored 16 or fewer points, including last week⁈⁚s 16-13 victory in Philadelphia.

In that game, the Giants had first downs on the Eagles one-, seven- and 16-yard lines, but settled for field goals each time.

⁈Å"We left a lot of points on the field,⁈  wide receiver Plaxico Burress said. ⁈Å"If you want to be a championship-caliber football team, you can⁈⁚t do things like that. Turning the ball over, that⁈⁚s something that⁈⁚s kind of been kicking us in the rear end for the years that I⁈⁚ve been here. We want to go out and convert on third down and score when we⁈⁚re in the red zone. Those are touchdowns we need instead of field goals. We want to keep plugging away. It⁈⁚s been a work in progress. There are some things that we struggle with, but we⁈⁚re going to try to get better at.⁈ 

So why are the Giants leaving so many points on the field?

⁈Å"That is a good question,⁈  Coughlin said. ⁈Å"It is always something different. It could be a turnover. It could be an opportunity that went awry. It would be a stop and a force to kick a field goal instead of getting a touchdown. So there are many reasons. We are continuously analyzing that. On the one hand, we have won some games, but on the other hand, we know that we are a better, more productive team than we are showing right now. And that is why I said at the beginning of the week what was a real theme for us was: We haven⁈⁚t really played our best yet, and we think our best football is in front of us.⁈ 

But those charged with getting the ball into the end zone thought the offense would be further along at this point.

⁈Å"It is very frustrating,⁈  offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. ⁈Å"It is frustrating to all of the players and coaches alike. And I think we feel that we are in position and some opportunities have presented themselves. But it⁈⁚s just a little short here, a bad pass here, poor protection here, poor run there, fumble there, whatever. I think we have done a good job of maintaining poise, fighting through from being behind and winning games and again, doing our job in terms of holding onto the ball and keeping it away from the opposition and putting ourselves in position to score. The bottom line is you have to score. So that is what we haven⁈⁚t done enough of.⁈ 

⁈Å"We have done a lot of good things,⁈  quarterback Eli Manning said. ⁈Å"We have moved the ball, we have gotten into scoring position a number of times, and we just haven⁈⁚t quite finished the drives. In the last three or four games we have had turnovers at the wrong time and we have had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. You have to continue to do a lot of things the same way and just make a few improvements and get better in the red zone and just concentrate on not making the mistakes there and finishing drives by putting the ball in the end zone.⁈ 

If they can do that on Sunday, they should improve their unsatisfying home record.

Although the Giants are an outstanding 6-1 on the road, they are just 3-3 in Giants Stadium ⁈“ with losses in their last two home games to Dallas and Minnesota. As visitors, the Giants have developed, an us-against-the-world mentality that has given them the determination to find a way to win, no matter what adversity they encounter.

⁈Å"I would like to see us keep the same mentality at home,⁈  Coughlin said. ⁈Å"I don⁈⁚t think it has anything to do with comfort or anything like that. For whatever reason we didn⁈⁚t play, especially the last time, as well as we are capable.⁈ 

⁈Å"(Clinching a playoff berth) is the long-term goal,⁈  O⁈⁚Hara said. ⁈Å"The short-term goal for us is to play well at home. We⁈⁚ve talked enough about playing well on the road and how well we⁈⁚ve done when we⁈⁚re in visiting stadiums. I think the emphasis for us is to play well at home and to bring that fun football and that good football home to our fans.⁈ 

The Giants have much to strive for this week. Scoring more points. Winning at home. And yes, guaranteeing themselves an opportunity to play in the postseason. They can accomplish all of that by achieving Coughlin⁈⁚s first goal: Playing to their potential.

⁈Å"That, to me, is literally the challenge,⁈  Coughlin said. ⁈Å"The challenge is to be as good as you can be. Be as good as you can be as a team. And that is what you continuously strive to do. And that is why the preparation is so critical, as it adds up to your performance. Because if you take care of that part of, if you focus energy and effort on preparation and that preparation allows you to be as good as you can be, then that is when your team will be as good as it can be.⁈ 


*The forecast for Sunday night calls for temperatures in the mid 20s, wind chills in the low single-digits, high winds and a chance of snow.

⁈Å"As offensive linemen, we love bad weather,⁈  O⁈⁚Hara said. ⁈Å"That eliminates certain plays and makes it sloppy. And we like it sloppy.⁈ 

Some players will no doubt do what no sane person would normally suggest in the frigid conditions, which is wear the same short sleeves they did in August preseason games. Not everyone sees the logic in that.

⁈Å"I never understand when it gets that cold why guys go with no sleeves,⁈  defensive end Michael Strahan said. ⁈Å"That is just not smart. The guys are trying to look macho and what is the point of looking macho? Your goose bumps are bigger than your arms at that point.

⁈Å"I stay warm. I get hand warmers. I look like a wide receiver out there. I stay as warm and as comfortable as I possibly can. Probably if you are a guy that gets hit a lot or a guy who potentially, like a quarterback or a running back, it is not the best situation to be in. In those types of games they like to run the ball so running backs better be ready.⁈ 

Coughlin is more concerned with how the weather will affect strategy and execution.

⁈Å"You have to be prepared for whatever the elements are in terms of whether or not it restricts you or not," he said. ⁈Å"You would like to think that it doesn⁈⁚t restrict you in many, many ways. Really, until you are out there pregame, we have had reports of strong wind and you get out on the field and it is a cross-wind and it is not as effective with the ball as you think it would be. On other occasions, I can think of many of them, where there was a head-wind and you had to be very much aware of flipping the field at the quarter and when you could and when you couldn⁈⁚t and you had to pick your spots.⁈ 

*Safety James Butler will miss his second consecutive game Sunday with a hamstring injury. Coughlin did not rule out the possibility of the other safety, Gibril Wilson, suiting up. Wilson is listed as doubtful with a knee injury.

⁈Å"He did some running on the side and looked pretty good,⁈  Coughlin said.

⁈Å"I⁈⁚m feeling better,⁈  said Wilson, who hurt his knee on Nov. 18 at Detroit. Asked if felt well enough to play, Wilson said, ⁈Å"I don⁈⁚t know that yet. Hopefully, (I⁈⁚ll play) this week. If not, next week for sure.⁈ 

Two players are questionable: wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who didn⁈⁚t practice because of his sprained ankle, and tight end Jeremy Shockey, who was limited to goal line and short-yardage work because of an abdominal injury. Cornerback Aaron Ross (hamstring) and safety Craig Dahl (ankle) practiced fully and are probable.

*The Giants and the United States Marines will host their annual Toys for Tots drive on Sunday, when they host the Redskins. Fans are encouraged to donate new, unused toys to any of the collection bins located at each entrance to Giants stadium. Uniformed Marine Corps Reserves will be on hand to assist in collecting these gifts, which will then be distributed to children across the tri-state area this holiday season.

13 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 2:01AM #3
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Game time.
13 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 2:03AM #4
Posts: 2,643
alright boys i did ya's a favor and bet a 2 team teaser washington and over so the g-men should clinch
13 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 2:19AM #5
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I have signal leakage. Again.

So I'm stuck with gameday. Again.


13 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 2:32AM #6
Posts: 2,643
eload already 0-4angry
13 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 2:35AM #7
Posts: 0
Shanked punt, penalty. Giants are set up.
13 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 2:42AM #8
Posts: 577
Challange that spot!
13 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 2:52AM #9
Posts: 2,643
release eloadangryangryangry even his completion was thrown badangryangryangry
13 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 2:59AM #10
Posts: 577
Check that line judge's bank deposits.
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