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Strahan meets his favorite target again

The record-setting Giants defensive end has eight sacks of normally elusive Eagle Donovan McNabb, his most of any quarterback.

©Associated Press
October 28, 2002

PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb's scrambling ability hasn't helped him escape Giants defensive end Michael Strahan nearly enough.

The record-setting Strahan has sacked Philadelphia's McNabb more than any other quarterback in the league and can add to that total when the Giants face the Eagles tonight.

"I love playing against Donovan, because he's one of the toughest quarterbacks to play against," Strahan said. "He can beat you both ways, on the ground and throwing the ball. It's a big challenge.

"He's making very wise decisions. He throws the ball well and he runs when he needs to run. When he does run, he makes something happen. When he throws, he puts the ball where the guys need it. Donovan is a tough one to get. He's incredibly strong. He can break tackles easily."

Strahan has sacked 45 quarterbacks a total of 88 times, including 221/2 sacks last season, when he broke Mark Gastineau's season record.

McNabb has been a favorite target, tackled for losses eight times in three seasons by Strahan. He got McNabb 51/2 times in two games in 2001.

"Everyone knows where Strahan is," McNabb said. "He's going to have a good game and do what he has to do in order to help his team. We can't worry about that. We have to focus on whatever play is going to be called, reading the defenses, and getting the ball out of our hands."

McNabb is off to the best start of his career, passing for 1,407 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushing for 245 yards and four scores.

But he has been sacked 21 times, second in the league behind Buffalo's Drew Bledsoe.

"He's sacked a lot, but for every time he's sacked, he makes plays happen that negate any yards that they lose," Strahan said. "I think sometimes that can be a little misleading, because the guy is definitely a playmaker. That's why they're 4-2, because of him. He's made everybody else better. If he wasn't as good as he is, he probably would have been sacked about 50 times."

The Giants have had two weeks to prepare, but they are 3-10 in games after a bye. A disappointing 17-10 loss to the Falcons, who were without injured quarterback Michael Vick, preceded their week off.

The Atlanta game was costly because defensive tackle Keith Hamilton went down for the season after rupturing his Achilles' tendon.

Tight end Jeremy Shockey and cornerback Will Peterson missed the Atlanta game with toe injuries. Shockey is listed as questionable, Peterson as probable, but both are expected to play.

"They've got a solid offense and a solid defense and a lot of guys that have been together for a while there now," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "I'm sure they've had some plays that they would like to have back and opportunities that they would like to have back, but they are a good football team."

The Eagles are coming off an impressive 20-10 victory over Tampa Bay that snapped the Bucs' five-game win streak.

Philadelphia's defense, ranked No.2 in the league, held the Bucs offense to three points and hasn't allowed an offensive touchdown to an NFC opponent in four games this season.

The offense has almost been better, averaging 30.8 points. The running game is on track: Duce Staley ran for 152 yards against the Bucs and has 234 in his past two games.

"They can go into a game and play it any way it has got to be played," Giants coach Jim Fassel said. "Run it, throw it, whatever they've got to do, they can do that. And they demonstrated that last week."

In contrast to Philadelphia's offense, the Giants have struggled. New York is 29th in scoring (14.3 points per game), 27th in rushing (87.3 yards), and 30th in red zone efficiency (five TDs in 15 possessions).

Giants (3-3) at Eagles (4-2)

OF NOTE: Okay, so the Eagles really are good. They proved that Oct. 20 in smothering the streaking Bucs. The Giants shouldn't present much of a challenge though they've won the past two vs. the Eagles. The Eagles will play up to the moment as they usually do in nationally televised games (they've won seven straight in prime time). A lot will ride on QB Donovan McNabb, who will have to carry the team because the Giants' third-ranked run defense will keep RB Duce Staley well under 100 yards.

DARRELL FRY'S PROMISE: Eagles 30, Giants 14.

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