Bring on Philly!

When the quarterback is playing like this, no one needs to be wondering about the coach.

When the quarterback is playing like this, the coach is not an issue, and the future of the franchise is not an issue.

When the quarterback is playing like this, no one needs to be ordering Tuna for the Big Blueplate special.

Bring on the Eagles!

The Giants are peaking at the right time mostly because Kerry Collins is peaking at the right time.

All the Giants need to do now is beat the Eagles Saturday at Giants Stadium and, thanks to the Bengals stunning the Saints yesterday, they're in the playoffs. They can also make it if they lose and the Saints lose to Carolina. "Win and you're in," Jason Sehorn said.

Collins (23-29, 366 yards, 4 TDs) outdueled Peyton Manning on a day when the Fassel Giants reminded you of the old Parcells Giants, from the Rambo-esque Jeremy Shockey (7-116) to the physical, belligerent defense.

The 9-6 Giants are dangerous again because they believe in their quarterback and they believe in their coach.

And when Giants 44, Colts 27 was over, John Mara stood in front of a television behind the press box and watched the Saints last gasp. "Please don't give me the three-man rush," Mara said, and clapped when it ended the way he had dreamed it would.

Then he rushed to catch the elevator downstairs, where his father's Giants clomped excitedly into the visiting locker room.

Brandon Short pounded a fist over his heart, and said, "Heartbeat. Still alive!" Mike Barrow bellowed, "Gotta believe."

Soon Jim Fassel, Mr. December again, stood before his players and said: "We're in control of our own destiny now," and even though they already knew, the place erupted. Fassel presented the game ball to Amani Toomer, who caught 10 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns to outduel Marvin Harrison (10-128-1 TD).

"Speech," the chorus sang. "Speech."

Toomer talked about how much it all meant to him at the end of a week when he was nothing more than a Pro Bowl afterthought. Then he said:

"Everybody had a part in this one. But it'll all be for naught if we don't come out next week and take care of Philly."

Giants Stadium will sound the way it used to sound.

"It's gonna be a frenzy," Toomer said. "This is for all the marbles. We got an opportunity to go to the playoffs when everybody thought we were dead, and that's what makes it more special, 'cause nobody thought we could."

The Eagles will be playing for homefield advantage through the playoffs. They could play this one in the parking lot. "They can turn off the scoreboard for all I care," Tiki Barber said.

Donovan McNabb won't be playing. Collins, who has gone 126 passes without an interception, will be. Advantage, Giants.

"It was one of those days," Collins said yesterday.

In the halftime locker room, Fassel, who played to win like never before, who never stopped trying to score, made an announcement to the entire team.

"We're starting the second half with the flea flicker," Fassel said.

It sure got his team's attention.

"So everyone was standing up on the sideline watching this one," Sehorn said. "No one's on the bench anywhere. We all want to see this play."

Remember Tittle to Shofner? How about Collins to Toomer? Touchdown. Eighty-two yards.

"He's a Pro Bowl quarterback, in my opinion," Michael Strahan said.

Collins' Giants have scored 137 points in their last four games. "Maybe I'm not flashy, maybe I'm just workmanlike," Collins said.

Parcells to Dallas? Fine.

"There's no savior out there for us," Sehorn said. "We got a guy right here who's running the ship just fine."

Right coach, right quarterback. Bring On The Eagles!
Dec. 23,02