The New York Giants finally started playing like NFC East champions again. That's par for the course, though, when the Arizona Cardinals come to town.
Danny Kanell passed for a career-high 259 yards and three touchdowns and the anemic and under fire Giants offense gained a season-high 390 yards in defeating the Cardinals 34-7 Sunday.
"I feel great, it feels like a weight has been lifted off the offense's shoulders, for at least a couple of weeks anyway," said Kanell, who completed 22 of 36 passes and did not turn the ball over. "It's been a rough go the last few weeks. I've been miserable. I hate losing. I don't want to go to work when we're not doing well."
As usual, the defense also contributed as the Giants (3-4) ended a two-game losing streak and handed Arizona (3-4) its 14th loss in the last 15 games at Giants Stadium.
"There could be no more playing sloppy, no more losing," coach Jim Fassel said of the slide that saw the Giants lose four of five games. "I think we were ready and we had to be. I think this was more about us getting our mental edge. We never lost our focus."
Fassel delivered an unusual message on Saturday night during the team meeting. He told the players to forget about the must-win nature of the game and go out and have fun.
Both sideof the ball did.
Defensive tackle Robert Harris got 2.5 of New York's eight sacks, which matched their season high, and the Giants limited Arizona to 194 yards. Jake Plummer, who was intercepted twice and lost a fumble, led the Cardinals on one sustained drive before being replaced late in the game by former Giants starter Dave Brown, who was booed loudly by the few fans still in the stadium.
| Arizona's Jake Plummer dives ahead after being sacked for a 1-yard loss by New York's Michael Strahan. (AP) |
"This shows as a team we can be whatever we want to be," said Harris, who had missed the last three games with a chest injury. "No one is really in our way besides ourselves."
Kanell came into the game with rumors his job was in jeopardy after completing 21 of 48 passes for 183 yards, three interceptions and two fumbles in his last two starts. Two of the turnovers were returned for TDs.
Against the Cardinals, Kanell was almost flawless. He threw touchdown passes of 1 yard to Charles Way, 19 to Chris Calloway (six catches, 97 yards) and 18 to Amani Toomer.
The offensive line, criticized for most of the Giants' woes, paved the way for scoring drives of 66, 79, 71, 80, 52 and 23 yards. Gary Brown gained a season-high 108 yards on 24 carries, and he scored on a 1-yard run to give New York a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. Way scored in the first quarter.
"We still have an uphill battle ahead of us," said Kanell, who replaced Brown as New York's starter midway through last season. "The schedule is only going to get tougher and we needed something to get our momentum going like today. Hopefully we can keep improving."
New York did not turn the ball over against Arizona, which had a season-high eight takeaways in a win over Chicago last Sunday.
The Cardinals threatened briefly, closing to 14-7 on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Plummer (12-for-21 for 139) to Johnny McWilliams.
However, Kanell hit five straight passes for 69 yards in a two-minute drill to set up a 26-yard field goal by Brad Daluiso on the final play of the half. Kanell added two more TD passes in the second half and Percy Ellsworth set up Daluiso's second field goal of the half with an interception.
Cardinals coach Vince Tobin wasn't happy with any part of the Cardinals game.
"When you play a good football team on the road, the division champions from a year ago, you have to be able to meet force with force," Tobin said. "We didn't do that today."
Plummer's bad performance came just a year after he set an NFL rookie record passing for 388 yards here.
"When they put a lot of pressure on you, you think you have to carry the tem," Cardinals tackle Lomas Brown said of Plummer's performance. "He's trying to bear the burden of everything. A lot of it is our (the line's) fault, we didn't do a lot for him today."
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