Giants pass on trying to run against stingy Ravens defense

New York gains 66 yards

Collins attempts 39 passes

Ravens 34, Giants 7

January 29, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla. - All week long, coach Jim Fassel insisted his New York Giants would run the football.

He said a balanced offense was a priority to be successful against the Ravens dominating defense.

The Giants didn't try much.

A little at the start, a little more in the middle, and by the end, running wasn't even a consideration in the Ravens' dominating 34-7 win.

The Giants passed or tried to pass on the first play of their first five possessions, and nine of 10 times in the first half. By the start of second half, down 10-0, Giants quarterback Kerry Collins was completely under siege.

Thunder and Lightning? More like clear skies for a Ravens defense that didn't allow a running back 100 yards in a game all season.

The Giants were counting on misdirection plays with running back Tiki Barber to try to find him one-on-one space, but it didn't happen. The Ravens defense, with the linebackers free to roam side-to-side - had everything covered.

"We didn't stay regular on first and second downs and that put us in bad third-down situations," Barber said. "They took away everything. It's tough when you're trying to run the ball effectively and we couldn't get anything going."

The Giants ran for a total of 66 yards - with Barber getting 44 of his 49 yards in the first half and Ron Dayne - ineffective late in the season - not getting a single carry.

Balance? The Giants threw the ball 39 times and ran just 16 times because they were behind in the second half.

Of Barber's 44 yards in the first half, 27 came on a play late in the second quarter that put the ball on the Ravens' 29. But Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister intercepted a Collins pass intended for wide receiver Ike Hilliard at the 1-yard line on the next play with the Ravens leading 10-0.

The ineffectiveness of the ground game put too much pressure on Collins, who completed just 15 of 39 for 112 yards and four interceptions.

"Again, we thought we would have more success running the ball, which would have given us the opportunity to pass a little bit more and take the pressure off Kerry. We weren't able to sustain consistent drives, especially running the ball and it hurt us," Giants veteran offensive tackle Lomas Brown said.

Said Fassel, who defended the scheme of passing on first down to try to keep the Ravens off balance:

"We felt like the way they played, as aggressive as they play, we had to come out and make them defend some passes to loosen them up. We weren't going to come out and just smash-mouth run the football on them."

Were there any answers against a Ravens defense that should now get strong consideration as the best of all time?

"They have good players and they're coached very well," Collins said. "That's one of the things that jumped out - just how well-coached they are and how well disciplined they are. They play together very well. They completely took me out of my rhythm. Everything I tried to get going always seemd to end up in a bad spot."

Shut down

The Giants last night became the seventh team to score fewer than 10 points in a Super Bowl:

Pts. ....... Team ........ Year

3 .......... Miami ....... 1972

6 ........ Minnesota ..... 1975

7 ........ Baltimore Colts .1969

.......... Minnesota ...... 1970

.......... Washington .... 1972

.........New York Giants . 2001

9 ........ Washington .... 1984

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