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New York Giants' keys to victory

By RICK STROUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 28, 2001


1. Stay patient with the running game. The Ravens will make any offense look bad. But they will destroy any offense they force to become one-dimensional. This is a field-position game. Since neither offense is going to put up a lot of points without help, the Giants have to be willing to punt rather than allow a sack/fumble or interception on third and long.

2. Make Ray Lewis cover receivers. Running back Tiki Barber is going to know what toothpaste Lewis used this morning and is not fast enough to shake the Ravens linebacker on the run. But Lewis will allow Barber to catch the ball in front of him because he likes to sit back and react in coverage rather than run with receivers. The more the Giants can give Lewis to think about, the better.

3. Take a few shots deep. The Giants don't really have a speed burner at receiver. But the Ravens corners like to jump short routes and are susceptible to slant-and-gos. If quarterback Kerry Collins can set it up, he might get one or two shots downfield, but he will have to hit them.

4. Make Trent Dilfer beat you. The Giants defense has a chance to win the turnover battle if it can stop running back Jamal Lewis using its eight-man front and make Dilfer hold the ball. Dilfer is frequently confused by the array of blitzes deployed by defensive coordinator John Fox, and he will be especially cautious.

5. Cover tight end Shannon Sharpe. In all three playoff games, the Ravens used a big play from Sharpe to score touchdowns. Dilfer will lock in on him when he is in trouble and take chances squeezing the ball into his big target. The Giants will use combination coverages, but they can't fall asleep for one play as the Titans and Raiders did.

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