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THE NFL / 1996

Giants Win Battle of Backups

NFC: Rookie Kanell better than Esiason as New York overcomes injuries to defeat Arizona, 16-8.

November 04, 1996|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Dave Brown and Kent Graham didn't get much of a chance to decide things.

In an injury-filled game, the two starting quarterbacks spent the second half of the New York-Arizona game sitting together in the Giants' training room watching television. They saw the game settled by their backups--New York rookie Danny Kanell and Arizona veteran Boomer Esiason.

The kid from Florida State and the Giant defense prevailed as Kanell threw a 24-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and Jesse Campbell had interceptions to set up two of Brad Daluiso's three field goals in a 16-8 victory Sunday.

"This is real fluky," said Graham, who tore a ligament in his left knee one series after Brown was sacked and sustained back spasms and a bruised back. "Dave and I were talking about it and we never get hurt. We never do, and then both of us go down in the first quarter of the game we are playing against each other."

The Giants (4-5) led, 3-0, at that point, and Kanell and Esiason struggled getting their offenses going the rest of the way.

If there was a difference, it was the mistakes. Kanell, who had never taken a snap in an NFL regular season game other than a kneel down, didn't make any. The Cardinals (3-6) failed several times on third and short plays, and Esiason had two passes tipped and intercepted.

In an injury-marred game, the Giants lost tight end Aaron Pierce because of a knee injury and running back Tyrone Wheatley late because of a concussion.

Brown, who was hurt when sacked by Simeon Rice, led the Giants to a 31-yard field goal on the opening series. The score stayed that way until late in the third quarter, when New York scored on three consecutive possessions.

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