The New York Giants didn’t get any help from the Kansas City Chiefs last week in their drive for the NFC East title. The Chiefs will play a key role in that division race for the second straight week when they travel to the Meadowlands to take on the Giants.
One week after defeating Dallas to take over sole possession of first place in the division, New York earned another key NFC East win by beating Philadelphia 26-23 in overtime last Sunday. Jay Feely, who missed three game-winning field-goal attempts in a heartbreaking OT loss to Seattle two weeks before, made a 36-yarder with 3:55 left in the extra period to lift the Giants.
Feely, who also missed a 33-yard attempt in the Giants’ 17-10 win over the Cowboys, made all four of his field goals against the Eagles to keep New York alone atop the NFC East, one game ahead of Dallas.
“I had all the confidence in Jay,” said quarterback Eli Manning, who struggled and threw three interceptions and only one touchdown in Sunday’s victory. “I knew he was going to hit a big one for us.”
With the win, the Giants were in position to move two games ahead of the Cowboys, but Dallas defeated Kansas City in a thrilling 31-28 contest Sunday to keep pace.
After Drew Bledsoe led the Cowboys on a 68-yard, 14-play drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dan Campbell with 22 seconds left, Lawrence Tynes missed a 41-yard field goal to end the Chiefs’ three-game winning streak.
The final play was only part of the frustration for Kansas City. The Chiefs also wasted 143 yards rushing and three touchdowns by Larry Johnson and 340 yards passing by Trent Green, plus a chance to move up in the AFC wild-card chase because of a loss by AFC West rival San Diego.
“I’m sick to my stomach,” said Green, who was 20-of-32. “No missed field goal cost us this game. We had many opportunities to win. That’s the disappointing part.”
The Giants have dominated the series with the Chiefs, winning eight of 10 meetings, including all five at Giants Stadium. To stay unbeaten against Kansas City at home, New York will have to rely on its eighth-ranked rushing defense to contain Johnson, who leads the NFL with 852 yards on the ground in the past six weeks.
Johnson ran at will for the first three quarters last week, racking up 126 of his yards by then to set a Chiefs record with six straight 100-yard games. He has run for 10 touchdowns in that span.
The task of stopping Johnson is likely to be even more difficult for the Giants without starting middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, who will miss Sunday’s game with a high ankle sprain. Defensive tackle William Joseph will also sit out with the same injury.
Pierce leads the Giants with 98 tackles and has two fumble recoveries, one for a touchdown, and two interceptions.
One of the Chiefs’ main points of focus will be to keep New York defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora from getting heavy pressure on Green, who has thrown for 1,136 yards and seven touchdowns in the past four games in guiding Kansas City to 130 points. Strahan had two sacks last week and Umenyiora added 1 1/2 to lead a pass rush that sacked Philadelphia’s Mike McMahon six times.
“They’ve got the two great pass rushers,” Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said of Strahan and Umenyiora. “They’ve produced 23 sacks between them.”
New York also faces injury problems on the offensive line, as starting tackles Luke Petitgout and Kareem McKenzie left last week’s game and did not return. They’re both listed as questionable for this game.
After Saturday’s contest, Kansas City returns home for its final two games, beginning with a critical matchup against the Chargers, who are tied with the Chiefs for second in the AFC West.