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Home crowd puts forth Giant effort

By ERNEST HOOPER and Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 8, 2001

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants linebacker Michael Barrow figures after this season he would feel comfortable sitting across from game show host Regis Philbin.

"We're kind of like on the million-dollar question on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and we've got two lifelines left," said Barrow, whose team is one win from the Super Bowl. "We used our fan lifeline today and they did a great job."

The largest crowd to see the Giants play at the Meadowlands, 78,765, stirred the team into a frenzy with a towel-waving effort that began before kickoff. Barrow and fellow linebacker Jessie Armstead joined in, waving their towels to keep the throng at a fever pitch.

"It was unbelievable," Barrow said. "I felt like the gladiator in the coliseum, all the noise and stuff that was going on. I was happy to see that we broke the record for attendance and the fans were just responding. It felt like I was at church when the pastor says 'Praise the Lord.' They were just praising out there."

LT's EDICT: Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor told the media last week the Giants needed to make the Eagles earn every yard and play like they deserved to be the NFC's No. 1 seed. Defensive end Michael Strahan said the advice from Taylor, who helped New York win Super Bowls in 1986 and 1990, did not go unheeded.

"I played with Lawrence and I realize the type of player he is," Strahan said. "He's the greatest Giants player, and the greatest, in my opinion, defensive player to ever put on a uniform. And for him to come out and say what he said, of course you think about that. You don't want to disappoint those guys. Those guys got it done."

MOORE FUMBLES: Strong safety Damon Moore, the youngest member of the Eagles' acclaimed secondary, forced two fumbles but Philadelphia could not capitalize on either.

In the third quarter, Moore alertly knocked the ball out of punt returner Amani Toomer's hand and Mike Bartrum recovered. The Eagles advanced to the Giants 13-yard line, but placekicker David Akers missed a 31-yarder.

In the second quarter, Moore stripped running back Tiki Barber at the Eagles 14-yard line and recovered the ball to avert a potential scoring opportunity.

But four plays later, cornerback Jason Sehorn intercepted Donovan McNabb and returned the ball 32 yards for a touchdown.

Overall, the Eagles forced three turnovers and blocked a punt, but only the blocked punt led to a touchdown and that came with 1:56 remaining.

INJURIES: Eagles defensive end Mike Mamula left with a sprained ankle in the second quarter and did not return. ... Giants cornerbacks Dave Thomas (leg cramps) and Reggie Stephens (sprained ankle) exited in the third quarter. Thomas returned, Stephens did not. ... Giants guard Glenn Parker strained his back in the third quarter.

ET CETERA: The Barrio Boyzz, the No. 1 boy band in Latin America, sang the national anthem. ... It was the Giants' 25th post-season appearance, the second-most in NFL history behind Dallas' 26. ... The Eagles played the Giants for 180 minutes this season and never held the lead. ... New York's combined advantage in time of possession from those three games was 57 minutes, 8 seconds. ... The Giants' nine-game winning streak against the Eagles is tied for the longest active winning streak of one NFL team against another. Miami has defeated Cincinnati nine times in a row, and New England is unbeaten against San Diego in their past nine meetings. ... Before Ron Dixon ran 97 yards, the last Giants return for a touchdown on an opening kickoff was Dec. 4, 1966, by Clarence Childs.

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