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Giants grasp for answers

New York players come up as empty with explanations as they did with effort on the field.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 29, 2001


TAMPA -- There wasn't much the Giants could do, evidenced by their dismal all-around play.

There was even less they could say in explanation after Sunday's depressing 34-7 Super Bowl loss.

"It just didn't work out as planned; there's not much to say," cornerback Jason Sehorn said. "Obviously that kind of performance is not what you have in mind. Especially in the Super Bowl."

While the Ravens were outspoken and downright cocky in expressing their feelings, the Giants took more of a low-key approach during the week. But, the players said, they shared a quiet confidence just as strong.

"It stings quite a bit," quarterback Kerry Collins said. "It's pretty disappointing. Everyone really thought we were going to win, and to lose a game like this, it's tough to swallow. We'll let it sink in, we'll let it hurt, and in the long run we'll turn it into a positive."

Collins wasn't the only Giant talking about how losing Sunday's game could help them in the future, but that's the kind of wishful thinking that comes out of the mouths of players on the losing team.

The reality is that the Giants weren't supposed to be here, that several things went their way in the playoffs, and there is no way to logically assume they will get back here again.

For Collins, who overcame alcoholism and charges that he was a quitter and a racist, there was no redemption, not with a Super Bowl record-tying four interceptions.

For Sehorn, who at times is known as much for cover-boy looks as athletic ability, there was no reason to wonder about the next photo shoot, not the way he was burned on Baltimore's first touchdown.

For Lomas Brown, the old Florida Gator who finally made it to the Super Bowl after 16 long seasons, there was no happy ending.

Overall, what was a night the Giants hoped to remember quickly became one they'd rather promptly forget.

"No one remembers second place," receiver Ike Hilliard said. "Obviously we came a long way as a team, but this is tough to swallow right now."

"It hurts," Brown said. "It really, really hurts."

The Giants didn't offer a lot of valid excuses. Yes, the Ravens defense probably was a little better, especially a little faster, than they thought. No, the Giants weren't planning to pass that much (39 times), but they were getting nowhere on the ground. Yes, it was surprising that they played so poorly.

"I think the No. 1 reason we lost if that we made too many mistakes. It seemed like every big play we made was followed by a mistake," running back Tiki Barber said. "We worked so hard, and to come out and not play our best game is frustrating."

"We didn't execute as well as we needed to to be successful," Hilliard said.

Collins had a miserable day. Of the four interceptions, the most costly came at the end of the second quarter. The Ravens had gone up 10-0 on Matt Stover's 47-yard field goal, but the Giants, for the first time all night, were making gains.

A 16-yard pass had gotten them to the 44-yard line and a Barber run put them on the Ravens' 29. Collins was looking for Hilliard at the goal line, but Chris McAlister leaped high and came down with the ball, and one of the game's crucial plays.

"This is the most disappointing loss I've ever been involved in," Collins said. "I'm disappointed in the way I played. ... It was just overall, all-around. Bad reads on my part, bad reading of the defensive coverage. I missed some guys when I had them open. In a game like this, against a defense like this, you can't do those kind of things. There wasn't a whole lot good about what I did today."

Sehorn might have Law and Order beauty Angie Harmon waiting at home, but it wasn't going to be happy. Sehorn was beaten badly on Trent Dilfer's 38-yard first-quarter touchdown pass to Brandon Stokely. Sehorn popped up and looked at teammate Shaun Williams, implying Williams had blown his coverage, but Sehorn was the man on the scene.

"I got beat," Sehorn said. "I'm not going to place the blame on anyone else."

Brown said that as much as the loss hurt -- and it was easy to tell by the pain in his eyes -- he would, somehow, turn it into a positive.

So too will Barber.

"We tasted it," he said. "We didn't get a good swallow, but we tasted it. And that will be motivation for another year."

At the end of this long night, that was the best they could hope for.

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