Kerry Collins threw a perfect game yesterday.
In the indecipherably complex NFL quarterback rating system, 158.3 is the maximum single-game score, and that's what Collins posted against the Colts. He completed 23 of 29 passes for 366 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
"When he's throwing like that, it makes it easy," said wide receiver Amani Toomer (10 catches for 204 yards and three touchdowns). "I can't say enough about the way he played."
Coach Jim Fassel was concerned about the Colts' pass rush and the need to score points against an offense that featured Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. "The bottom line is I wanted to erase [defensive end Dwight] Freeney on the outside and protect Kerry," Fassel said. Rookie Freeney entered the game with 11 sacks and exited with the same number, thanks to a solid game by left tackle Luke Petitgout and the entire blocking unit.
Given ample time, Collins was masterful. He extended his streak of passes without an interception to 126 and raised his overall quarterback rating for the season to a career-high 85.1. He was equally adept on long and short passes, down the middle or to the sidelines. "He threw the ball extremely well," Fassel said.
It was extremely necessary, because the Giants knew they had to score early and often against the Colts, who were fighting for a playoff berth before a raucous home crowd. "It was one of those days," Collins said. "I made throws, had time and the guys got open. We had to keep it going against a high-powered offense."
Despite outplaying the Colts in the first half, the Giants led only 10-3. So on the first play from scrimmage of the second half, Fassel told Collins it was time for trickery. The quarterback pitched the ball to Tiki Barber for an apparent run around right end. But Barber tossed the ball back to Collins, who unleashed a long strike to Toomer for an 82-yard touchdown.
The Giants had practiced the play all week, and Fassel said he was determined to use it "either on the first play of the game or after halftime, but I didn't say anything to anybody until we were in the locker room [at halftime]. I told the coaches we were going to start with it and then I told the whole team. They kind of looked at me and said 'OK' and all of a sudden they were excited about it."
There was one other very exciting throw, this one of the short variety. Early in the third quarter, on third- and-1 from the Colts' 18, Collins faked a handoff to Barber and exhibited a deft touch by looping a pass to fullback Charles Stackhouse, who galloped into the end zone untouched to give the Giants a 23-3 lead.
"It was ridiculous," Toomer said appreciatively. "Those are the kinds of things most quarterbacks can't do. They just flat-out can't do it. That's why I say, every time I talk about Kerry, that he's the best quarterback I've ever played with."