By STEVE SERBY
The more you hit the late Joe Frazier, the more he seemed to like it. And it is no different with the Giants, heavyweight champions of the NFL.
Some teams would cower and crumble in the face of the mean, green ambush that awaits them Sunday night at the Linc, a prime-time death struggle with the Eagles that begins at 20 past hate.
The Giants rub their hands together with glee and relish the prospect of a Thrilla in Philla, where they try again to batter Michael Vick from pillar to post and make him quit on his stool, if not knock him out.
“You know that when you step on that field down there it’s ... it’s kinda like gladiators — only one man’s going to come out,” Michael Boley said.
The Giants know they didn’t get to be Super Bowl champions without a large supply of mental and physical toughness. So their message to the city of Philadelphia and the team that plays there is this: Bring it on.
They will be standing defiantly inside a belligerent arena, inside the eye of a raging storm of invective and venom, ready to defend the franchise’s honor with every last ounce of courage and willpower against an enemy that will be trying to take their heads off, come hell or Goodell.
“I love loud stadiums, I love fans; they act like they want to come on the field and rip your head off,” Justin Tuck said. “That’s what I grew up watching on TV when I thought about NFL football. I love the fact that that rivalry is as heated as it is. It makes games fun.”
The most recent salvo, coming days before Sunday night’s Giants-Eagles clash in Philadelphia, was fired by McCoy.
“Yeah this is for real, like I don’t like Osi!’’ McCoy said on ESPN’s E:60, which airs Tuesday at 7 p.m. “I don’t know how he feels, he might think it’s a game but I don’t play them type of games so every time on the field I would say stuff to him like you is a bum… you are the third best defensive lineman on the defense, which I didn’t lie. Wait, I did lie, he’s the 4th now so I actually did lie…"
It was McCoy who started all this with a Twitter war of words last season when he complained about Umenyiora’s contract complaints by calling him only the third-best Giants defensive end. That prompted Umenyiora to refer to McCoy as “She’’ and, most memorably, sending out a tweet wishing him a Happy Mother’s Day.
Umenyiora held his tongue after this latest salvo from McCoy, saying “Well my response to that is LeSean McCoy is one of the greatest running backs in the league, he’s playing on a very good football team, Andy Reid is a great coach, they have a good offensive line and I wish him much continued success."
By MARK HALE
All bets are off when the Giants face the Eagles.
Two years ago, the Eagles’ comeback from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit ruined the Giants’ season. Last year, in a Week 3 game at Philadelphia, Victor Cruz — who entered the game with two career catches — exploded for 110 yards and two touchdowns in an impressive Giants win.
“I think that’s one of the reasons why you’ve got to love playing [the Eagles],” Justin Tuck said yesterday. “You never know what’s gonna happen. It’s one of those games where you’re going into it and knowing that you’ve got to play your best game to win it. I think they feel the same way about us.”
There have been 154 regular-season meetings between the Giants and Eagles, and the average score has been Giants 19.1, Eagles 18.5. Sunday night in Philadelphia, the teams, both 2-1, will face off on national TV.
More important than who takes the early lead in the divisional race (Dallas is also 2-1) is the potential tie-breaker implications. Because the Giants lost the season opener to the Cowboys, they would fall to 0-2 in the NFC East with a loss to the Eagles. That’s a bad start and a potentially worse long-term issue.
“[Games are] all important. It doesn’t matter what your record is. You don’t really think about it in that term,” Eli Manning said. “You think, ‘Hey, we’ve got Philadelphia at Philadelphia.’ ”
Manning may be the better quarterback heading into this game, but the more intriguing one is the Eagles’ Michael Vick. The gifted quarterback has fired only three touchdown passes against a whopping six interceptions in the season’s first three games.
by Paul Schwartz
There was a suspicion heading into this season that the Giants roster, from top to bottom, was deeper than most and if the old, reliable “only as strong as your weakest link’’ bromide rang true, this team would fare better than most.
It now appears the Giants are deeper than first suspected and that means they are built for the long-haul of a grinding NFL season.
The greatest area of concern remains the offensive line, where the loss of David Diehl to a knee injury leaves the backup situation, to be kind, tenuous. And keeping enough cornerbacks healthy is an ongoing headache, with Corey Webster (broken hand), Prince Amukamara (high ankle sprain), Jayron Hosley (hamstring) and Michael Coe (hamstring) all either coming or going out of ailments that leave coach Tom Coughlin in the “What can I say?’’ frame of mind.
Already, the Giants have leaned heavily on an 11-day break after their first game and their current 10-day cushion between games 3 and 4 as healing time for various pulls and strains. They can take the field in droves at linebacker, where the second-unit trio of Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich and Keith Rivers could start, en masse, and the Giants wouldn’t feel they were short-handed.
Perhaps Marvin Austin can shake off the rust and be a forceful addition to the defensive tackle rotation and, lest we forget, Chris Canty will be back in mid-October. The emergence of Martellus Bennett as the pass-catching target the Giants hoped he would be provides another towering toy for Eli Manning. If the previous game was not an illusion, if Andre Brown at running back and Ramses Barden at receiver are ready to make real contributions, Manning’s options have greatly multiplied.
By PAUL SCHWARTZ
It was clear from the moment Giants coach Tom Coughlin walked across the field at MetLife Stadium and angrily confronted Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano on Sept. 17 that Coughlin was steaming. Coughlin didn’t appreciate seeing the Bucs go live on the final kneel-down play of the Giants’ 41-34 victory. The surge from the Tampa Bay defense resulted in the unsuspecting Giants offensive linemen getting their knees hit by low-flying helmets and Eli Manning getting knocked to the turf.
Coughlin wagged his finger as he berated Schiano. And now, thanks to some obscenity-laced audio of the non-cordial postgame handshake, it’s obvious just how upset Coughlin was.
“What the f--k’s that all about? Trying to hurt the quarterback?” Coughlin shouted at Schiano, according to WFLA and JoeBucsFans.com from an audio transcribed by TampaBaySportsCentral.com.
After Schiano responded with something that was inaudible, Coughlin shot back “That’s bulls--t!”
Schiano then apparently tried to explain what was going down on the last play but Coughlin wasn’t having any of it.
“Going for the ball? You’re trying to hurt the quarterback,’’ Coughlin snapped.
“Baloney!” Schiano responded.
In the days that followed, Coughlin didn’t back off his contention that what Schiano did in his second NFL game was uncalled for. And Schiano didn’t back off his belief he was simply instructing his players to play to the final whistle.
NY GIANTS 36, PANTHERS 7
CHARLOTTE — In the days before the Giants’ final roster cuts at the end of training camp, Andre Brown and Ramses Barden appeared to share a place on the roster bubble.
It’s a good thing for the Giants their bubble never burst.
If it had, the world would’ve missed the breakthrough performances of Brown and Barden on Thursday night, as they led the badly depleted Giants to a stunningly thorough 36-7 win over the Carolina Panthers. Brown, who has been cut seven times by five teams in the last three years, filled in for the injured Ahmad Bradshaw by rushing 20 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
Barden replaced the injured Hakeem Nicks by catching nine passes for 138 yards.
“Outstanding,” Tom Coughlin said. “They stepped up. They saw it as a great opportunity. They’ve been looking for this type of opportunity.”
Despite heading into this game without Bradshaw, Nicks, receiver Domenik Hixon and right tackle David Diehl, the Giants (2-1) seemed sure their replacements would seize their
big chance. In the hotel before the game, Eli Manning even spoke to his teammates on offense and told them, “We have playmakers here.”
As if to prove it, the Super Bowl MVP came out firing — hitting four different targets for passes on the opening drive alone. He ended up completing 27 of 35 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown on a night when the Panthers’ defense seemed intent on taking away Victor Cruz (6 catches, 42 yards).
That was just fine with Barden, the 6-6 former third-round pick out of Division III Cal Poly who had just 15 catches in his first three NFL seasons. Then suddenly he got an opportunity he wasn’t sure would ever come.
Too many aches and not enough time to heal meant the Giants on Wednesday departed on their charter flight to Charlotte without three players who were injured in last Sunday’s 41-34 victory over the Buccaneers.
Right tackle David Diehl, running back Ahmad Bradshaw and third receiver (and punt returner) Domenik Hizon were all left off the flight, as their injuries will prevent them from playing in Thursday night’s game against the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Hakeem Nicks was ruled out later in the day.
Defensive end Adewale Ojomo (hamstring) also did not make the trip and has been ruled out.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara practiced Tuesday and said he expects to play Thursday, but the bigger story for the Giants was who didn't make it on the field.
Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks rode an exercise bike on the sidelines as he nursed a sore foot, while offensive tackle David Diehl (knee), running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) and wideout Domenik Hixon (concussion) all were missing as the Giants held their only full practice of the week before the trip to Carolina for Thursday night's matchup with the Panthers.
Coach Tom Coughlin said after the workout that he expects Nicks to play, but the Giants coach wasn't as optimistic about Diehl, Bradshaw or Hixon. Coughlin would only say the Giants are "hoping against all odds" that they can go.
Amukamara, who has been sidelined since late in the preseason by an ankle injury, was joined in practice on a limited basis by cornerback Michael Coe (hamstring), linebacker Keith Rivers (hamstring) and defensive end Adewale Ojomo (hamstring). All three had been on the Giants' injury report Monday.
Amukamara said he has been working with the starters this week and expects to make his regular-season debut against Cam Newton and the Panthers.
By MARK CANNIZZARO
One night’s sleep later, Tom Coughlin still woke up this morning steamed at Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano for ordering his players to bust up the Giants’ end-game kneel-down “victory formation’’ on the last play of the Giants’ 41-34 win Sunday.
When informed of the obvious Monday -- the NFL’s confirmation that neither Schiano’s order nor the execution of the low bull-rush of the unsuspecting Giants’ offensive line was illegal -- Coughlin said, “That’s up to the NFL. I said what I said and I believe it to be accurate with regard to the number of years I’ve been in this league. I’ve said my piece about it.’’
Coughlin, of course, said his piece to Schiano when he ripped into the former Rutgers coach and NFL rookie head coach when they met on the field after the game.
Coughlin actually ends every Thursday practice with the victory formation as a message to his players that “this is where we want to be at the end of games.’’
“It was going to be a knee and (the Buccaneers) pushed off,’’ Giants running back Andre Brown, who was on the field for the play, said Monday.
“I didn’t expect that. They shot so low under (center David) Baas and (left guard Kevin) Boothe and (right guard Chris) Snee’s knees. It was a crazy situation.’’