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Substance Over Style in This One

November 06, 2000|From Associated Press

CLEVELAND — There's a lot you could say about the New York Giants. Their offense is basic and boring. And their schedule has been pretty easy so far.

But you also have to say this: They're 7-2.

"Seven and two is 7-2 in the NFL, regardless," Giant offensive tackle Lomas Brown said Sunday after a 24-3 victory over the Cleveland Browns. "There might be a lot of critics out there, and a lot of ghosts we're still fighting. But we're winning, and that's what counts."

Kerry Collins threw two of his three touchdown passes to Amani Toomer and the Giants showed that they've got more than just a smashmouth offense in winning their fourth consecutive game.

Ike Hilliard also caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Collins for the Giants, who are off to their best start since opening the 1990 season 10-0 en route to winning the Super Bowl.

"We decided to execute the things that teams don't think we can do," said Giant Coach Jim Fassel, who relied on his running game late to eat up the clock. "They were loaded to stop the run and were successful."

So the Giants went to the air.

New York's offense entered ranked third in the NFL in rushing, and just No. 20 in passing. However, Collins looked confident in the pocket and, for a change, didn't spend the majority of his day handing the ball to Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber.

Collins completed 19 of 31 for a season-high 257 yards and had his first three-touchdown game this season. He also completed seven of nine passes on third down.

"I really have not had big TDs this year, so it was imperative today to go out and do it," Collins said. "It feels good to make the adjustment and get the passing game in gear."

Fassel didn't want his players looking past the Browns (2-8) and ahead to their showdown at home against the St. Louis Rams next Sunday.

The Giant defense made sure there wouldn't be a letdown, holding Cleveland to just 41 yards rushing in 16 attempts and limiting the Browns to only a first-quarter field goal.

Giant defensive end Michael Strahan manhandled Cleveland right tackle Scott Zahursky, finishing with two sacks and pressuring Doug Pederson into a costly interception.

Cleveland, which has lost quarterback Tim Couch and three offensive starters to season-ending injuries, has lost seven in a row and gone 205 minutes, 54 seconds without scoring a touchdown.

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