Kerry's hot stuff

Shows his cool on final drive

Kerry Collins confessed to having some feelings of deja vu. For the second straight week, the Giants quarterback was silky smooth while doing one of the hardest things in the game, driving for the go-ahead score.

Last week, that score looked like it would secure a victory but went for naught as Dallas won in overtime. This week, it resulted in a 24-21 overtime win over Washington.

"It's natural that went through your mind, but you have to quickly refocus," Collins said. "Last week we found a way to lose that game. This week we found a way to win."

Collins may not be ranked among the NFL's elite quarterbacks, but he is on the verge of joining that group. The Giants offense never gave the Redskins a shot in OT yesterday, starting from its own 6 and ending the drive with Matt Bryant's 29-yard field goal.

Collins was 3-for-5 passing for 50 yards on the final march. Collins' teammates said he was cool throughout a pressure situation. In the huddle, he did not urge his cohorts to play hard; all he did was smile as he looked into their faces.

"We take on his personality," Tiki Barber said. "He's supremely cool. ... He never lets anything get to him."

Collins said it's all about maturing.

"I definitely feel comfortable (in that situation)," he said. "I think I matured to that. Earlier in my career, I would have gotten a little out of whack. I take each play as it comes now and stay in the moment and try to make good decisions. That's what ultimately wins a game for a quarterback."

Collins finished 24-for-39 for 276 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He hooked up with Ike Hilliard twice for scores and once with Amani Toomer for a 54-yard TD.

Making Collins' feats even more impressive is that he hasn't had the luxury of excellent blocking up front. He often has had two or three first-time starters in front of him and has taken his share of bone-rattling hits after releasing the ball.

Collins often has gone to just a three-step drop to compensate for the lack of time in the pocket - as he did during the overtime drive yesterday - an adjustment he had no problem making.

"We have some young guys who haven't been around for a long time," he said. "We never have anybody get too out of whack. We never let anyone lose their focus.

"I think we have a bunch of guys who keep believing. That's what does it for us."
Sept 22,03