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Giants'comeback win huge

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 19, 2000

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Three weeks after guaranteeing that the New York Giants would make the playoffs, Jim Fassel is raking in the biggest pot of his coaching career.

Not only are the Giants (11-4) going to the playoffs as NFC East champions, they suddenly have the inside track on home-field advantage for the post-season after Sunday night's 17-13 comeback victory at Dallas.

If the Giants beat Jacksonville (7-8) here Saturday for their fifth straight win since Fassel's now-famous "guarantee," they won't have to leave Giants Stadium unless they go to the Super Bowl.

For Fassel, it's also job security for a coach who was all but out the door if the Giants missed the playoffs for a third straight year.

General manager Ernie Accorsi refused Monday to discuss contract talks with Fassel, who signed an extension through 2001 after last season.

Fassel also refused to discuss his status. "It's not an issue with me," he said. "There's a time and a place, and the time and place right now is Giants versus Jacksonville.

"That's it, all my energy, all my thoughts. I don't have time to think about myself. My wife handles Christmas. My daughter is doing my shopping. My son is getting the Christmas tree up, and I'll show up sometime."

Work comes first, and that was the case Monday, less than eight hours after the Giants celebrated on the Cowboys' home field. Fassel and his coaches didn't arrive home until dawn, and they were back at work by 8 a.m.

Sunday night, it was running back Tiki Barber, not Fassel, who rallied the troops from a 13-0 deficit.

At halftime, Barber rose in the center of the locker room and implored his teammates to prove their critics wrong.

"We've been doubted this whole season as people told us all the things we can't do," Barber said later, recreating his halftime talk. "One of those things was that we can't come back and win. I told them that we're a championship team and we can come back.

"We went out and did it and it was a beautiful thing."

Late in the third quarter, quarterback Kerry Collins, who had been playing miserably, threw a 33-yard touchdown to Amani Toomer.

Midway through the fourth quarter, cornerback Emmanuel McDaniel returned an interception 4 yards to the Cowboys' 13, and on the next play, Barber charged around right end untouched to score.

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