Collins feels sting of Ravens' swarming defense

Ravens 34, Giants 7

January 29, 2001|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla.-New York Giants quarterback Kerry Collins should have had an inkling as to what kind of night it was going to be on the first two passes he attempted in Super Bowl XXXV.

Both were nearly intercepted.

If the opening possession wasn't a foreshadowing for Collins and the Giants in their crushing 34-7 defeat to the Ravens at Raymond James Stadium, then the team's second possession might have also done the trick.

Collins was sacked on first down and forced out of the pocket on third down.

By the time his nightmare came to an end, Collins had been intercepted four times, sacked four times, fumbled once and hurried on innumerable other occasions by a ravenous Baltimore defense.

It was a complete reversal of fortunes for Collins from his five-touchdown performance in a 41-0 victory against the Minnesota Vikings two weeks ago in the NFC championship game.

What had been the high point of a career shadowed by a drinking problem and questions of his leadership with the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints had suddenly disintegrated into a game filled with mistakes by Collins.

"It's the most disappointing loss I've ever been involved in," Collins said after a game in which he completed just 15 of 39 passes for 112 yards.

In his defense, Collins didn't have much protection from an overmatched offensive line or support from a game plan that all but abandoned the run after the first quarter - if not from the outset.

"He didn't do anything worse than the offensive line or the wide receivers or anyone else on the offense," said Giants guard Glenn Parker. "This is a team loss, but our offense lost the game."

Collins said that he had problems reading the Ravens' defense, for he seemed to have an easier time putting the ball in the hands of the Baltimore secondary than those of his own receivers.

"They did a good job of disguising their defenses," Collins said.

The two interceptions that hurt the Giants the most came on different types of routes, one long and the other short.

Trailing 10-0, the Giants reached the Ravens' 29 with a little over a minute left in the first half after a 27-yard run by Tiki Barber. On first down, Collins tried to get the ball to a streaking Ike Hilliard. Just as it appeared that Hilliard had gotten past safety Kim Herring, cornerback Chris McAlister swooped in for an interception near the goal line. It ended what turned out to be the Giants' most effective drive of the game.

"It was just a misread on my part," Collins said. "Obviously, we were in position to put some points on the board, and it was very costly."

But the play that all but buried the Giants came in the third quarter. Having already been intercepted on his team's first possession, Collins tried to find Amani Toomer on first down from the Giants' 44.

This time, cornerback Duane Starks stepped in front of Toomer and raced 49 yards untouched to the end zone, helping put the Giants behind 17-0. Game, set, mismatch.

Collins called it the most disappointing play he made all night.

"I knew the coverage I had, I knew all those things," he said. "The guy stepped in front of it. I've got to see his position, where he's playing and what he's going to do. I think he led me the whole way."

As disappointing as the defeat was for Collins, as forgettable as his individual performance was, the former Penn State star was quick to show the resiliency that he didn't have in his more troubled days.

"It's going to stay with us for a while," he said. "But I've come back from tough things before, and I'll come back from this."

Picked apart

The Giants' Kerry Collins was intercepted four times, tying a Super Bowl record:

No. ..... QB, Team ............... Opp. .......... Yr.

4 ........ K. Collins, NYG .......... Bal. .......... '01

4 ........ C. Morton, Den. ......... Dal. ......... '78

4 ........ J. Kelly, Buf. ........... Was. ......... '92

4 ........ D. Bledsoe, N.E. ........ G.B. ......... '97

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