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Solid effort lifts Giants over Pats 31-23

 
NFL.com wire reports



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Aug. 31, 2006) -- Beating the New England Patriots to cap an unblemished preseason was the perfect present for New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin on his 60th birthday.

Now if omens only come true: The last time New York didn't lose in the preseason was 1990, the last time it won the Super Bowl.

"It's a great way to teach, when it's positive," said Coughlin, who was a Giants assistant under Bill Parcells in 1990. "We had an opportunity to look at a lot of young guys. Now we're into the real season. It's been a positive preseason for us, and hopefully it will continue. We laid a foundation we can continue to build on."

Backup halfback Brandon Jacobs rushed for 130 yards and scored on runs of 57 and 2 yards as the Giants (4-0) defeated the Tom Brady-less Patriots 31-23 at Giants Stadium.

James Sims scored on a 3-yard run, Jay Feely had a 29-yard field goal and Tim Hasselbeck threw a late touchdown for New York. The defending NFC East champions will open the regular season a week from Sunday against the Colts in the much-anticipated matchup of Peyton and Eli Manning.

"I am excited how we played this entire preseason," said Tiki Barber, who carried once before giving way to Jacobs.

Brandon Jacobs fights hard for some of his game-high 130 yards against the Patriots.  
Brandon Jacobs fights hard for some of his game-high 130 yards against the Patriots.    
Heath Evans scored on a 1-yard run and rookie Stephen Gostkowski added three field goals for the Patriots (2-2), who left Brady home. Patrick Cobbs added a late TD run for the AFC East champions, who open their season on Sept. 10 at home against Buffalo. Center Dan Koppen thinks his team can be good this year.

"I think we have a shot," Koppen said. "There are 31 other teams that feel the same way. It's how you come together and how much you are willing to work for it. I think we have a team willing to put in the price."

For the most part, both teams played their starters only one series. There was only one major scare. Giants Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan went down on the first series in obvious pain after a tackle. It looked serious for a minute, but the team later said he was kicked in the groin.

The only problem was a leg injury sustained by Patriots backup linebacker Barry Gardner. He was taken off the field on a golf cart. Belichick said the team would know more on Sept. 1, but he refused to say what the problem was.

Manning finished 4 for 5 for 35 yards, while Jared Lorenzen was 10 for 15 for 116 yards. Patriots starter Matt Cassel was 15 for 28 for 196 and one interception.

New England's first-team offense didn't miss Brady, at least on the opening series. Cassel moved them 67 yards in 14 plays, with Evans capping the drive on fourth down.

The most memorable play was Strahan going down and being trampled and kicked at the Giants' 19.

The Giants offense tried to answer, but a 51-yard field-goal attempt by Feely was blocked by Roosevelt Colvin.

Jacobs tied the game early in the second quarter, following fullback Tony Jackson through a hole on the left side and rambling 57 yards for a touchdown.

"I wanted to get out and show people I can run," said Jacobs, who looks more like a middle linebacker than a halfback. "When folks watch film, I want them to say he's all right. He can move. He's not just the big strong guy."

Belichick provided a novelty on the next series and put punt returner Troy Brown at quarterback. Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn forced halfback Cobbs to fumble on the second play and Carlos Emmons recovered.

"To develop his legend," Belichick quipped when asked about using Brown, who has also played defensive back for New England.

A 15-yard end around by Michael Jennings helped set up Feely's field goal.

Lorenzen, trying to win the Giants' backup job from Hasselbeck, fumbled a shotgun snap late in the first half and New England safety Artrell Hawkins recovered. Gostkowski tied the game at 10 with a 29-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

Jacobs and Sims ran for TDs in the second half and Hasselbeck threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to tight end Darcy Johnson.

Gostkowski added field goals of 54 and 25 yards in the second half, finishing the preseason 9 for 9 as Adam Vinatieri 's replacement.

"I haven't been really tested yet," said Gostkowski, who previous long this preseason was 37 yards. "We'll have to see if I can keep it up in the regular season. I am happy with what is going on so far. I have to work harder to get better."

Notes: Giants LB LaVar Arrington didn't dress for the game. ... Cobbs led the Patriots with 45 yards rushing on 12 carries. With receiver Deion Branch still holding out, the Patriots saw Bam Childress catches six passes for 116 yards. ... Giants top draft pick Mathias Kiwanuka had a sack and an interception. New England top draft pick Laurence Maroney did not play.

 
1st Downs1924
Rushing712
Passing1011
Penalty21
3rd-Down Conversions5-145-10
4th-Down Conversions2-20-0
Punts-Average4-41.52-43.0
Return Yards133126
Punts-Returns2-51-32
Kickoffs-Returns5-1285-93
Int.-Returns0-01-1
Penalties-Yards5-355-53
Fumbles-Lost2-12-2
Time Of Pos.29:5630:04
Total Net Yards304405
Total Plays6361
Average Gain4.86.6
Net Yards Rushing124207
Rushes3138
Avg. Per Rush4.05.4
Net Yards Passing180198
Comp.-Att.15-2916-22
Yards Per Pass5.68.6
Sacked-Yards Lost3-161-6
Had Intercepted10
Touchdowns24
Rushing23
Passing01
Other00
Extra Points2-24-4
Field Goals3-31-2
Red Zone Efficiency2-4-50%2-3-66%
Goal To Go Efficiency2-3-66%2-2-100%
Safeties00