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Mistakes sink erratic Giants

9/30/2002

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals were supposed to be in
trouble at running back, with no experience behind Thomas Jones.
They have some experience now.

Question on the Giants: Is today indicative of how their season will go?
I thought they would win today, but only time will tell whether this game is indicative of their season. The key for the Giants is the consistency (or lack thereof) of QB Kerry Collins. His interception today before halftime was huge, and it swung momentum to the Cards.

Question on the Cardinals: Even in victory, Plummer was shaky: How can the Cards get him playing consistently?
This is who Jake is -- he's a streaky player. He'll give you some great comebacks but he'll also make some poor decisions and lose some games. The Cards have committed to Plummer, and because they have, when you tune in to see an Arizona game, you never know what will happen.

Eric Allen played 14 seasons in the NFL for the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Marcel Shipp, who never had an NFL carry before the second game
of this season, ran 10 yards for one fourth-quarter touchdown and
caught a 7-yard pass from Jake Plummer for another Sunday as the
Cardinals (2-2) beat the bumbling New York Giants 21-7.

"I grew up watching these guys,'' said Shipp, who's from
Patterson, N.J., "and it just feels great to come out here and
play the way I did.''

Shipp, who gained 5,383 yards at Division I-AA Massachusetts but
was not drafted last year, played because Thomas Jones had a sore
left ankle. Shipp ran for 92 yards on 17 carries and caught five
passes for 39 yards.

"There was a lot of motivation for me in the offseason, because
they questioned the backup running back spot,'' Shipp said. "I had
to prove a lot of people wrong, and I came in today and did that.''

"I've got no reservations about Marcel Shipp,'' Cardinals coach
Dave McGinnis said. "He's a football player. I felt like that all
along, or I wouldn't have kept him on this team last year. He is a
gamer.''

Shipp sprained his left knee two plays before his touchdown run,
leaving Arizona with "two gimpy backs,'' McGinnis said.

On their first possession, the Giants (2-2) got a 6-yard TD run
from Tiki Barber, then they were shut down by their own miscues and
Arizona's young defense.

"Our defense won this game,'' Plummer said.

Justin Lucas intercepted Kerry Collins' ill-advised sideline
pass to the sidelines and returned it 38 yards for the game-tying
touchdown with 4 seconds left in the first half.

In a brief halftime television interview, Giants coach Jim
Fassel said, "I'll never be that stupid again in my lifetime.''
After the game, Fassel said that he didn't call the pass play but
did give it the green light.

"The last thing I said was `Be careful, get the ball down the
field,''' Fassel said. "We throw it on the flat, and it will never
happen again. It's supposed to go down the field.''

Collins said he went on the field intending to take a knee and
go to halftime with a 7-0 lead, but he got a message through his
headset to change the play.

"I was looking for something on the sidelines. They were in a
prevent. I was just trying hit Tiki in the flat,'' Collins said.
"I didn't see the guy (Lucas) and obviously didn't throw it the
way I needed to throw it.''

Plummer, booed heartily by the crowd after two costly
interceptions last week in a 23-15 loss to San Diego, completed 23
of 32 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown. He was not intercepted.

The Giants were penalized 10 times for 110 yards, including a
roughing-the-passer call against Michael Strahan on third-and-10 at
the Arizona 33 that got the Cardinals' go-ahead drive started.

"It doesn't matter what I think. He threw the flag,'' Strahan
said. "We just didn't play smart today, and when you don't play
smart, you don't win.'' ``

Plummer threw 14 yards to Brian Gilmore to the New York 35,
Gilmore's first NFL catch. Shipp rambled 25 yards to the 10. On
third-and-goal at the 7, Plummer scrambled to his left and found
Shipp in the end zone to put Arizona up 14-7 with 10:35 to play.
The pass was intended for Frank Sanders in the back of the end
zone, but Shipp reached up to catch it.

The Cardinals sealed the victory with a 12-play, 78-yard drive
that ended with Shipp's scoring run through a wide hole with 2:13
to play. Arizona's offensive players said the Giants' defenders
wore down in the desert heat.

"They didn't have much left,'' tackle L.J. Shelton said.

The Giants had a 76-yard touchdown pass from Collins to Ron Dixon called back by a holding penalty against Mike Rosenthal on
the last play of the third quarter.

At the end of the game, McGinnis climbed into the stands to
shake hands with fans in the sparse crowd of 30,014.

The Giants struggled again on the ground, managing just 67
yards. Collins was 19-for-36 for 199 yards and was intercepted
twice.

"Our whole offense is to blame for the whole game,'' Fassel
said. "Out offense is not scoring enough points for us to win.''

Game notes
Game-time temperature was 90 degrees, 10 degrees cooler
than last Sunday. ... Giants punter Matt Allen took off on his own
after a bad snap and misjudged where the first down line was. "He
didn't realize he had that far to go,'' Fassel said. ... New York
center Dan Zeigler suited up for the first time after coming back
from knee surgery in January, but he did not play. ... Arizona
guard Chris Dishman left the game in the first quarter with a
concussion.

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