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They Protect Him From Firing Line

NFL Spotlight | SIDELINES

November 10, 2003|Houston Mitchell | Times Staff Writer

New York Giant players don't seem to agree with their fans when it comes to Coach Jim Fassel.

Halfback Tiki Barber, quarterback Kerry Collins and defensive end Michael Strahan all came to Fassel's defense Sunday after angry fans chanted for the coach to be fired during a 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

"We're making him look bad, because it's not him, it's us, and me in particular," Barber said after the Giants (4-5) put on a dreadful performance in helping end Atlanta's seven-game losing streak.

The Giants turned the ball over four times, including two fumbles by Barber inside the Falcon 22-yard line. Collins also had two passes intercepted, one of which ended a potential go-ahead drive just before halftime and another that allowed Atlanta to build a 20-7 third-quarter lead.

"Does anyone want Jim to get fired?" Collins said. "No.... Let's not completely think the end of the world is coming because there is a lot of football left in this season and a lot can happen."

Coming back won't be easy, although getting away from Giants Stadium might help. New York is 1-4 at home and 3-1 on the road.

Chants of "Fire Fassel" were clearly audible throughout Giants Stadium in the final minute of the third quarter with New York down by 14 points.

"That's really encouraging!" Strahan said of the chant. "In my opinion it is stupid. If you are going to come out and support, then come out and support. If you are not and you are a Giants' fan, then stay at home. I don't show up at your job when you are doing bad and yell, 'Fire you.' "

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While not necessarily known as football powerhouses, Ivy League schools have been around for a long time. Princeton played the first football game in America (against Rutgers) 134 years ago. Of more recent vintage, 2003 is the first time in 75 years that all eight Ivy League schools have had a player on an NFL team. The lineup: Brown's Sean Morey (Philadelphia), Columbia's Marcellus Wiley (San Diego), Cornell's Seth Payne (Houston), Dartmouth's Jay Fiedler (Miami), Harvard's Matt Birk (Minnesota), Penn's Jim Finn (Giants), Princeton's Ross Tucker (Buffalo) and Yale's Chris Hetherington (Oakland).

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Tennessee limited Miami's Ricky Williams to 37 yards in 13 carries Sunday, extending its streak of consecutive home games without allowing a 100-yard rusher to 25. Williams was averaging 82.5 yards before Sunday. The teams with the longest active streak of home games without allowing a 100-yard rusher:

* Tennessee (25 games, 17-8)

* San Francisco (16 games, 12-4)

* Miami (eight games, 5-3)

* Dallas (eight games, 5-3)

* Detroit (eight games, 3-5)

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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