Giants hold Packers' run game, former teammate Grant in check Print
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Sunday, 20 January 2008 19:43
NFL Headline News

 GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Ryan Grant's runs added balance to the Green Bay Packers' offense in the second half of the season, but Grant was uncharacteristically quiet against his former team on Sunday.
A week after setting a franchise postseason record with 201 yards rushing, the New York Giants held their former teammate to only 29 yards on 13 carries in their 23-20 overtime victory over the Packers in the NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field.
``They shut down the run pretty well, so we had to try some different things passing the ball,'' Grant said. ``But we tried to stay with it - they just played better than us.''
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said the offensive line didn't do a good enough job knocking the Giants' defensive line off the ball, then blamed himself for not sticking with the run in his play-calling
The Giants traded Grant to the Packers for a sixth-round draft pick a week before the start of the season, and were worried the move was going to come back to haunt them in the playoffs.
Instead, they shut him down.
``The first thing we wanted to do was stop the run,'' Giants defensive end Michael Strain said. ``Ryan Grant had a great game last week. Stopping the run was very key. We did a great job holding them to under 20-something yards, which is outstanding.''
After turning the Packers into a one-dimensional offense, the Giants were free to tee off on Favre in the pass rush. They didn't sack him, but Strain said they made him uncomfortable.
``We didn't have to sack him,'' Strain said. ``We just had to make him uncomfortable in the pocket.''
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BURRESS' BIG DAY: The Green Bay Packers couldn't find an answer for Giants receiver Plaxico Burress, who caught 11 passes for 154 yards on Sunday - most of them against Packers ace cornerback Al Harris.
Harris is used to taking the opposing team's best receiver, and usually shuts him down.
However, Burress didn't seem impressed after Sunday's game, saying Harris is tough to beat off the line but ``doesn't really have great speed.''
Burress said the Giants determined in film study this week that Harris' aggressive brand of bump-and-run coverage leaves him vulnerable to jump balls.
``We just pretty much played to his weakness tonight,'' Burress said. ``He pretty much played bump-and-run and we took advantage of it.''
Harris said he wasn't surprised the Giants tried to go to Burress.
``He's their guy,'' Harris said. ``They didn't do anything that we weren't expecting. We knew they were going to be giving him the back-shoulder throws and things of that nature. But, hey, he made some good catches. Hats off to him.''
Was Burress the best receiver Harris has covered this year?
``No,'' Harris said. ``But I've got a lot of respect for the gentleman. I think he played well, and they did a good job.''
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ROAD WARRIORS: With Sunday's victory, the New York Giants haven't lost a road game since their Sept. 9 season opener.
Starting with their rally from a 17-3 halftime deficit in their Sept. 23 game at Washington, the Giants have won 10 straight road games. They even won a road game on the other side of the Atlantic, beating the Miami Dolphins in London.
``Ten straight, looking for 11,'' Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce said. ``Our next one is a road game, too. That's how we're treating it. It's just a mentality.''
It hasn't been easy, as the Giants trailed in all three playoff games, at Tampa, Dallas and Sunday in Green Bay.
``It'd difficult,'' Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. ``All these games that we've won on the road, every place that we've gone. It wasn't easy to go to Dallas, it wasn't easy to go to Tampa and it's certainly not easy to come here.''
Especially not with subzero temperatures at Lambeau Field.
``I don't know what anybody else says, it was cold out there,'' Pierce said. ``We didn't focus on that. We had a game to play, and guys made up their minds with regard to the weather, and regardless of the score and regardless of what was going on, we were going to come away with a win.''
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CONTRACT TALKS: Now that the season is over, the Green Bay Packers will turn to completing a contract extension for McCarthy.
``We've still been talking,'' Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. ``A lot of people are jumping the gun there.''
Packers chairman Bob Harlan said Friday negotiations between the team and McCarthy are progressing well but are not complete.
``The signed copy has not crossed my desk yet,'' Harlan said.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported on its Web site Friday that McCarthy and the team have agreed in principle to a five-year deal worth about $4 million per season, citing an unnamed NFL source.
McCarthy confirmed earlier this week that the two sides were making progress on a new deal, but didn't seem eager to talk about it for fear that it could create a distraction going into Sunday's game.
McCarthy has a year left on the original three-year deal he signed in January 2006, but NFL teams often try to lock up valued coaches before the final season of their contract. That would be especially true when a coach leads the league's youngest team to a 13-3 regular-season record and a playoff victory, as McCarthy did this season.
Packers officials have said publicly they hope to have a new deal with McCarthy in place before the Super Bowl, a move that would provide long-term stability to at three of the team's most important management positions.
Earlier this month, the Packers gave a five-year contract extension to Thompson. And last month, former Northwestern athletic director Mark Murphy was chosen to become the successor to Harlan, the Packers longtime top executive.
Thompson said while Sunday's loss stings, the Packers improved greatly in 2007.
``We'll have time to reflect on things like that,'' Thompson said. ``Right now, I just feel bad for our guys.''
 

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