Brown's stock rises -- then falls again Giants' oft-criticized QB opens up attack, but day still ends in dismal defeat

September 15, 1997|By Rich Fisher | Rich Fisher,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Dave Brown has been kicked around so much since arriving in New York that it was almost fitting a pair of kickers spoiled another Sunday for the Giants' quarterback.

Brown, who is blamed for everything in New York from traffic jams to the corrosion on the Statue of Liberty, seemed ready to vacate the hot seat for a week. He completed a career-high 28 passes (with no interceptions) in 46 attempts against the Ravens, good for 260 yards and a touchdown. He wasn't awesome, but effective.

He was also a 24-23 loser when Matt Stover, a Giants 12th-round draft pick in 1990, hit a 37-yard field goal with 34 seconds remaining. Minutes earlier, New York's Brad Daluiso missed his second field-goal try to go along with a blocked extra-point attempt.

It ruined a day in which Giants fans finally got to see what they have been hoping for from first-year coach Jim Fassel's offense.

"That's football," Brown shrugged. "We've just got to keep going. We can't pat ourselves on the back. Big deal. We lost.

"It's a tough one. We put ourselves in a position to certainly win the game. They ended up making more plays than we did in the end and it's something we've got to learn from."

Fassel decided it was time for the offense to become more aggressive, which did not translate into many big plays. Brown's longest completion was 27 yards, but his 46 attempts were four short of a career high, and he spread the ball around to nine receivers.

He did do it against a defense that allows nearly 300 yards a game. These days, however, Brown takes what he can get.

"He played pretty well," Fassel said. "He settled down. He threw the ball well and managed the game well and did what we wanted him to do."

But

"Our two-point thing was open," Fassel said. "I think he could have put it on him."

The coach was referring to the Giants' two-point conversion attempt that could have tied the score at 14-14 in the second quarter. Chris Calloway was open in the right side of the end zone, but Brown missed him.

"Chris did a great job of working his guy in the back of the end zone," Brown said. "I wanted to throw a little bit higher. The thing kind of sailed out of my hands and I didn't get it."

That's how it goes for Brown. One of the few mistakes he made was on a play that, if executed, would have meant a one-point win instead of a one-point loss.

It's not that Brown hasn't deserved past criticism. Still, for the most part yesterday, he and the Giants' offense did what they wanted to.

"From the start of the game to the finish, that was probably one of the better games we played as an offense," Brown said. "We've reached a point where we have a pretty good grasp of what we want to do with a base offense. It was time to open it up a little."

One thing Brown's passing did was help the Giants control the clock. New York averaged a little more than 22 minutes of possession time its first two games, but held the ball for 35: 51 yesterday. It helped that an offensive line ravaged by Jacksonville last week did not allow a sack.

"We came out more prepared this week," tackle Scott Gragg said, refusing to criticize the Ravens' pass rush. "Give Jacksonville's D-line credit, but give Baltimore's D-line credit, too. We still didn't get the job done.

"I thought Dave played very well. I thought he did a great job."

Receiver Thomas Lewis, who started in place of the injured Ike Hilliard and had three catches, thought so, too.

"He took the opportunities to go to different receivers," Lewis said. "People weren't loading up on one guy or loading up on one set. Dave made them have to play everybody, and that becomes hard to defend. We have a nice package of running backs and receivers.

"But today we didn't win the game. It doesn't matter how many weapons you have or how well you do. If the end score isn't in your favor, you can't really be proud of that."

"I didn't think it would slip away," Brown said. "But it did."

Pub Date: 9/15/97

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