In the final moments of practice, while the two-minute offense was being run, Ron Dixon was slow to get back up after catching a pass from Kerry Collins. The whistle had not blown and the next sound that Dixon and his teammates heard was Coach Jim Fassel screaming about as loudly as anyone could remember.
Fassel's frustration was understandable. The Giants had squandered several scoring opportunities the past two games, resulting in 1-point losses. Once the team left the field, Collins, the player the Giants' offense hinges upon, was considerably calmer than his coach.
"I feel great, confidence-wise," Collins said. "I think we have responded really well to his anger. I think we have a bunch of guys who are willing to take a hard look at themselves and realize we have to get better, and I think we are showing it in the way we have practiced."
Fassel has taken Collins aside and pointed out his statistical success in the fourth quarter this season.
"If you start letting it weigh on your mind that much, you are going to do nothing but hurt yourself," Collins said of the pressure to score in the red zone. "You have to maintain confidence. The second you start getting tight in the red zone, or anywhere else on the football field, you are not giving yourself a chance to be successful. We are not thinking about that. We are going full steam ahead and are going to try to execute and do all the things we do well.
"I think we are better this year than we were last year. The reason we haven't scored points is because we hurt ourselves. We have no one to blame but ourselves, but there have been some things that I am really encouraged by, and I think there are some things that we have done better than at any point last year."
Last year's offensive proficiency, which culminated in a 41-0 victory over Minnesota, is a distant memory. While offensive explosions have been rare around Giants Stadium, Collins said he believed that the team could be on the verge of a breakout game, perhaps on Sunday against the Washington Redskins.
"I think we have been doing some good things, and I think we are working really hard and practicing really well," Collins said. "Because of those two things, I feel good about the fact that we can have a better last two- thirds of the season than we did the first third of the season."