EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- It took the New York Giants'
defense just one game to wipe out -- at least temporarily -- the
bitter memories of their playoff meltdown a year ago.
Kenny Holmes recovered one of Kurt Warner's six fumbles for a
touchdown, and the Giants sacked the St. Louis Rams' quarterback
six times, intercepted him once and sent him to the hospital with a
concussion in a 23-13 victory Sunday.
"Around here we've been talking about our chances of being a
good offense, but our defense, they showed what they can do
today," Giants quarterback Kerry Collins said. "They played just
out of this world."
Warner might have said the same thing after being harried,
hammered and hurt by a defense that has lived in the shadow of
Jeremy Shockey and the Giants' offense since training camp opened.
Except Warner had no post-game comments.
How long before Martz gets tempted to play Bulger?
This is a decision that Martz is not taking lightly. If he yanks Kurt Warner, he has to be prepared to stick with Bulger for the rest of the year. Bulger looks much more comfortable in the offense than Warner does and there are probably teammates who are ready for a switch.
Is this team going to battle Philly for the NFC East?
Yes, they have a very good offense combined with a great defense. The Giants have a better offense than the Eagles and their defense is very close to the Eagles'.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
Warner felt nauseous after the game and lay on the table in the
training room with severe headaches.
Dr. Bernard Garfinkel, the Rams' physician, eventually diagnosed
a mild to moderate concussion. Warner was taken to an undisclosed
hospital to be held overnight, where a CT scan and X-rays of his
head and neck were negative.
"I didn't know about it until the third quarter," Rams coach
Mike Martz said. "The only thing you know is what he is going to
say to you and Kurt's a competitor. He just wasn't himself. He
looked confused when you gave him a play and I shouldn't have
played him. I regret playing him."
Martz felt Warner might have been hurt late in the first quarter
when sacked by rookie William Joseph. Holmes scored on the play.
"I was coming around the corner and Warner stepped to the
right," Holmes said. "He stepped back and William got there at
the same time."
It was one of a dozen good hits the Giants had on Warner. He
finished 34-of-54 for 342 yards, including a 37-yard fourth-quarter
touchdown pass to Torry Holt.
The hardest hit might have been one by linebacker Mike Barrow
late in the first half as Warner followed through on a pass.
"The pressure on the quarterback was paramount," said Giants
coach Jim Fassel, who saw his team's postseason end in San
Francisco in January when a banged up defense blew a 38-14
The problem in that game was a lack of pressure on San Francisco
quarterback Jeff Garcia.
It paid dividends in the season opener.
"I think people had the misconception that since our offense
improved so much that our defense was going to slack (off)
especially with our last outing," safety Shaun Williams said.
"Maybe we had something to prove after last year, but we have a
solid defense and we're going to try to show that every week."
The defense forced four Rams' turnovers, and each started a
drive that led to points.
Holmes' TD gave New York a 7-3 lead. New punter Jeff Feagles
helped set it up with a 53-yard punt that buried the Rams at their
Brian Mitchell, another offseason acquisition, helped stretch
the lead to 23-6 by scoring on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.
Halfback Tiki Barber, who dislocated a finger in the first
quarter, led the Giants' offense with 146 yards rushing on 24
carries. Collins finished 14-of-26 for 202 yards.
New York limiting Marshall Faulk to nine carries for 28 yards
and seven catches for 27 more.
"They did everything right today and we did everything wrong,"
Toomer has caught passes in 68 straight regular-season
games, tying Ike Hilliard for the team record. He needs 28 yards to
pass Frank Gifford (5,434) as the team's all-time leading receiver.
... Giants left tackle Luke Petitgout left the game in the second
quarter with back spasms. Rookie Jeff Roehl finished. ...St. Louis
gained 40 yards rushing. ...Mitchell's rushing TD was his first
since 2000. It was his first carry since 2001.
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