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NFL '97 / WEEK 1 | NEW YORK GIANTS 31, PHILADELPHIA
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Fassel's Offense Not Fossil-Fueled

September 01, 1997|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants made Jim Fassel a rookie NFL coach because they felt his West Coast offense could revive the two-time Super Bowl champions after six mostly frustrating seasons.

Not only did Fassel deliver in his debut, so did rookies Tiki Barber, Sam Garnes and Ike Hilliard and a swarming defense that recorded nine sacks, nearly one-third of the total of all of last season.

Barber scored on a one-yard run and made two big plays to set up a touchdown, and Garnes returned a fourth-quarter interception 95 yards in the Giants' 31-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

"I talked to Ike and said we needed to score two touchdowns for us to win, just the rookies," said Barber, a second-round draft choice from Virginia who gained 88 yards in 20 carries and caught three passes for 32 yards. "Ike dropped his. Sam got it back for him. We feel real good about what we did."

So did Fassel on his 48th birthday after winning with a team that won only 11 games the past two seasons.

"I have been reminded a few times today is my birthday," said Fassel, a quarterback guru trying to salvage much-maligned Dave Brown's career. "I hadn't thought about it. My birthday always comes during the season, but it's never been this important to me."

There was little not to enjoy, other than the late scare that backup Eagle quarterback Rodney Peete engineered by reducing 21-point lead to seven in the fourth quarter.

Brown, who looked comfortable in the new pass-oriented system, ran three yards for a touchdown and connected with Chris Calloway for a nine-yard scoring pass. Brad Daluiso kicked a 39-yard field goal after Hilliard, the top draft pick, caught a 19-yard pass on a third-and-17 play.

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