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Bryant No Mere Pawn in Win

September 23, 2002|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Instead of a record-tying 300-yard passing performance by Kerry Collins, the New York Giants gladly settled for three field goals from a former pawnbroker who has turned into a perfect kicker.

Rookie Matt Bryant kicked a game-deciding 47-yard field goal with 2:04 to play and the Giants overcame a subpar effort to beat the winless Seattle Seahawks, 9-6, Sunday.

Bryant, waived less than a week before the season and re-signed two days before the opener, added field goals of 33 and 21 yards as the Giants (2-1) barely avoided a letdown a week after knocking off St. Louis on the road. "This is great," said Bryant, who has made all nine of his field goals attempts. "It's every kicker's dream to win a game in that situation."

For Bryant, it has been an unbelievable season. After waiting four years to get to an NFL training camp, the former Baylor kicker is surprising everyone since getting a chance when Owen Pochman went on injured reserve because of a knee injury.

Collins, who missed in his effort for a record-tying sixth consecutive 300-yard passing game, moved the Giants 65 yards in 11 plays to set up Bryant's game-deciding kick.

"I feel more like a part of the team," Bryant said. "They know who I am now."

William Peterson iced the win for the second straight week with an interception in the final two minutes.

The defense limited Seattle to 145 yards, holding running back Shaun Alexander to 37 yards rushing.

"We were sleep-walking in the first half and the second half we kind of woke up," said defensive end Michael Strahan, who picked up his first sack of the season. "The offense moved the ball and got enough points on the board to win. The defense held them when we had to."

Rian Lindell staked Seattle to a 6-0 halftime lead with field goals of 42 and 27 yards. It wasn't enough to prevent the Seahawks from losing their third in a row, their worst start since Mike Holmgren took over as coach in 1999.

"We dug ourselves a hole, but we have to dig our way out of it," Holmgren said.

Collins connected on pass plays of 20 yards to Amani Toomer, 18 to Ike Hilliard and 10 to Jeremy Shockey to set up Bryant's longest NFL field goal.

"The record would have been nice, but I'll take a win any day of the week," said Collins, who finished 23 for 38 for 282 yards. "This is a big win to come back."

After failing to score late in the first half on two cracks from the one-yard line in the closing seconds, Collins got New York going in the third quarter. He led a 16-play, 69-yard drive that Bryant capped with his 33-yarder.

Bryant tied the score with his 21-yarder early in the fourth quarter on a drive that featured Tiki Barber's 33-yard gain on a screen pass.

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