The showdown between the New York Giants' quarterbacks of the present and past was decided by Vince Tobin's gut feeling to switch to Jake Plummer.
Plummer replaced former Giants quarterback Dave Brown in the second half and threw two touchdown passes to lead Arizona to a 34-24 victory Sunday, the Cardinals' third straight win and New York's third straight loss.
"It was a surprise seeing him," Cardinals defensive end Simeon Rice said. "We were apprehensive about his finger, but he came out there, and I think his presence made the offense just click a little better."
"I felt there would be points scored in the second half," said Tobin, whose team is back into the playoff picture despite having Plummer sidelined the past four weeks with a broken finger. "I wanted to do the thing that would best make us score some points. I felt like Jake gave us the best opportunity."
While disappointed in being lifted, Brown understood the move.
"Obviously, he is one of the elite quarterbacks in this league or can be one of the elite quarterbacks in this league," Brown said. "The defense did a great job of getting him field position, and he just made some great throws for touchdowns."
Plummer, who was 12-of-18 for 125 yards, took advantage of the first of three interceptions of Collins to hit Rob Moore for a go-ahead 2-yard TD pass early in the third quarter for a 13-10 lead. Plummer added a 9-yard touchdown pass to backup tight end Johnny Williams on the first play of the fourth quarter and led a 60-yard touchdwn march that Mario Bates capped with a 2-yard run after New York closed to 20-17 in the fourth quarter.
"There is really no pressure when you come in off the bench," Plummer said. "I told the coach thanks for getting me in there."
The result left both teams two games behind first place Washington (7-4) in the NFC East with five games to play. The Redskins beat Philadelphia 20-17 in overtime.
"I was not satisfied with any phase of what we did," Giants coach Jim Fassel said. "I am disappointed in most everything we did. The turnovers were critical."
In losing the last three games, New York has turned the ball over 13 times. Arizona has had four turnovers the past three weeks.
"We're still in it," said Collins, who was chosen to replace Kent Graham on Monday. "We have five games left, and let's be honest, we are probably going to have to win them all."
Collins led New York on three long touchdown drives, but they weren't enough to overcome the three touchdown drives Plummer produced in his first action since Oct. 17.
Collins, 22-of-45 for 298 yards, had three interceptions and a fumble, all in the second half after he scored on a 1-yard sneak in leading New York to a 10-6 lead in an errorless first half.
Collins' biggest turnover was on the Giants' first second-half play from scrimmage. His slant pass hit off Amani Toomer, and linebacker Rob Fredrickson returned the ball 23 yards to the New York 16. Five plays later, Plummer rolled out on third-and-goal, and Moore stole the ball from cornerback Phillippi Sparks for a touchdown and a 13-10 lead.
The touchdown pass to McWilliams, Plummer's first of the season, stretched the lead to 20-10 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Collins then drove the Giants 88 yards, with rookie Sean Bennett scoring on a 1-yard sweep.
Plummer responded, taking the Cardinals 60 yards, with Bates scoring for a 27-17 lead, and Swann ice the game with his interception. Collins hit Tiki Barber on a 34-yard TD play in the final minute.
Collins gave New York a 10-6 halfime lead by hitting 10 of 13 passes for 141 yards. He scored on a 1-yard run and set up a 24-yard field goal by Cary Blanchard.
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