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Giants control playoff destiny after rout of Colts
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Kerry Collins completed 23-of-29 passes
for 366 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Amani Toomer, leading
the New York Giants to a crucial 44-27 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at
the RCA Dome. Tiki Barber ran for two more scores for the Giants (9-6), who
kept their playoff hopes very much alive by winning their third in a row.
The Colts (9-6), who remain in post-season contention despite dropping two of
their last three games, can still make the playoffs in the AFC with a win next
week when they host the Jaguars. However, Indianapolis will have to settle for
a wild card spot since the Tennessee Titans claimed the AFC South title with a
28-10 win at Jacksonville on Sunday.
Toomer finished with 10 receptions for 204 yards to go along with his three
touchdowns -- one of which was a career-long 82-yard catch -- for New York,
which now controls its own playoff destiny after the New Orleans Saints'
20-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. With a win at home over the
Philadelphia Eagles next Saturday, the Giants assure themselves of one of two
NFC wild card spots. Even if they lose against the Eagles, New York would
still make the playoffs if the Saints lose again.
"Everyone seemed to bury us a long time ago, but with the outcome of the New
Orleans-Cincinnati game, now we control our own destiny," said New York head
coach Jim Fassel after the game. "And it's going to come down to the final
straws and we don't need to get sweaty palms. We need to just get ready to go
out and play another football game this week."
Rookie tight end Jeremy Shockey compiled a career-high 116 yards on seven
receptions for the Giants.
Peyton Manning was 30-of-46 passing for 365 yards and three touchdowns for
Indianapolis, but was intercepted twice. He became the first quarterback in
NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.
New York took an early lead when a blocked punt by Marcellus Rivers was
recovered by Derrick Dorris at the Indianapolis 25. However, the Giants' drive
stalled at the two-yard line and they had to settle for a 20-yard field goal
by Matt Bryant that put them up 3-0 with 9:24 left in the first quarter.
The Giants' next score was set up by Dhani Jones' interception of a pass by
Manning at the New York 36. On the ninth play of the ensuing drive, Barber
waltzed untouched into the end zone from four yards out to give the Giants a
10-0 lead with 12:42 remaining in the second quarter.
The key play of the scoring drive was a bruising 24-yard catch-and-run by
Shockey, who steamrolled over Indianapolis safety David Gibson near the Colts'
25 before finally being tackled at the 14.
A New York turnover led to Indianapolis' only points of the first half as
Barber fumbled and the loose ball was recovered by Dwight Freeney for the
Colts at the Giants' six-yard line. But three straight runs by James Mungro
netted just four yards and Indianapolis had to settle for a 20-yard field goal
by Mike Vanderjagt that made it a 10-3 game at the half.
New York went up 17-3 in the opening seconds of the third quarter as Collins
-- off a flea-flicker -- connected with Toomer on an 82-yard touchdown
pass on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.
"It was either going to be the first play of the game or after halftime," said
Fassel about the flea-flicker. "But I didn't say anything to anybody until we
were in the locker room.
"I wanted to come out and be aggressive and stay aggressive because I think
too many teams have pulled their horns in a little bit and then Indianapolis
came back and caught them."
Indianapolis' next drive came to a screeching halt when Mungro was stopped for
a one-yard loss at the Giants' 47 by Brandon Short on fourth-and-inches.
Collins then capped a five-play, 47-yard scoring drive with an 18-yard TD toss
to fullback Charles Stackhouse. Bryant missed the extra point to leave it a
23-3 game with 10:29 remaining in the third.
A 14-play, 49-yard drive by Indianapolis stalled at the nine-yard line of the
Giants and resulted in a 27-yard field goal by Vanderjagt that made it a 23-6
contest with 5:21 left in the third.
But New York marched right down the field on its next possession and took a
30-6 lead on a one-yard touchdown run by Barber.
The Colts answered when Manning hit Reggie Wayne with a 21-yard scoring strike
that pulled them within 30-12 with 13:34 left in the fourth. But Mungro was
stopped short of the goal line on a two-point conversion try, keeping it an
The Giants went up 37-12 when Collins finished a 10-play, 58-yard scoring
drive with a 21-yard TD pass to Toomer that made it a 37-12 game with 6:45 to
New York's seemingly safe lead shrunk to just 10 points after two quick scores
by Indianapolis. After Manning threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Marvin
Harrison and completed a two-point conversion pass to Marcus Pollard, the
Colts trailed by 37-20 with 4:51 to play.
Indianapolis then recovered an onside kick at the New York 40 and, on the
first play from scrimmage, Manning connected with Wayne on a TD pass that
trimmed the Giants' lead to just 37-27 with 4:44 remaining.
But Collins then engineered a game-clinching four-play, 42-yard scoring drive
that he finished off with a 27-yard scoring strike to a wide open Toomer to
close out the scoring.
New York mustered 469 yards of total offense and scored the most points in a
game since Fassel took the reins of the team in 1997. The Giants defense,
meanwhile, limited the Colts to 399 yards of total offense, including just 50
yards on the ground.
Two-time NFL rushing champion Edgerrin James finished with just 13 yards on 10
carries, while Mungro rushed eight times for only 21 yards in the loss.
Harrison ended the day with 10 catches for 128 yards, while Wayne had six
receptions for 104 yards in a losing cause.
"We didn't get our running game going at all," said Indianapolis head coach
Tony Dungy. "That forced us to be one-dimensional. (The Giants) were able to
get some runs going and that really helped them, especially in the second
"We had a lot of good field positions in the first half. We couldn't take
advantage of it. It just was not a good day for us," added Dungy.
The Giants scored the most points in a game since they beat New Orleans,
45-29, on September 24, 1995, with Dan Reeves as head coach. The Giants have
outscored opponents 60-9 in the first quarter and have not allowed any points
in the opening frame in their last nine contests.
Harrison extended his own NFL record by recording his sixth straight game with
nine or more catches, and also extended his NFL record with 137 receptions
this season. He also recorded his 10th 100-yard receiving game this season --
one shy of Michael Irvin's NFL record of 11.
12/22 18:52:39 ET
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