Shockey Shoots for Stars

It is High Noon for the Giants, and their gunslinger can't wait for Shootout Sunday.

Never before has Kerry Collins felt this ready.

Collins isn't Phil Simms and Jeremy Shockey isn't Mark Bavaro just yet.

But Collins hasn't thrown an interception in 97 throws and yesterday Shockey, who has made more of an impact as a Giant rookie than anyone since Lawrence Taylor in 1981, was elected to the Pro Bowl (and collected a fresh $100,000 bonus).

So when the playoff bullets start flying Sunday in Indianapolis from Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison, Collins and Shockey & Co. won't hesitate firing back.

"We gotta end with seven," Collins was saying yesterday. "Three is probably not gonna get it done in this game."

Falcons-Lions at 1 p.m. Saints-Bengals at 1 p.m. Shootout Sunday at 1 p.m. inside the RCA Dome.

"To think they're gonna score 10 points or 14 points, I mean, they're a good offense," Collins said. "They're at home; you gotta say that's worth seven right there. Hey look, we know what we're up against. It's a dome, it's a loud place . . . but offensively, we have to score some points. I don't think 10 or 13's gonna get it done this week. But hey look, we've been scoring more points here lately. I think that's been encouraging for us. Hopefully we can have another good output this Sunday."

They expect one.

"We have to outscore their offense," Toomer said. "That's gonna be a big task for us because they put up a lot of points."

Can you win a Shootout?

"We're gonna have to," Amani Toomer said. "There's really no other option.

"We definitely believe we can do it."

The fearless, exuberant Shockey (57-680 and 1 TD) has changed the personality of the offense. Wellington Mara was asked about Shockey. "He's got great desire; he's not a showboat at all," Mara said. "All these things he does, that's just himself letting off steam."

Does he remind you of LT in how he plays the game? "Well they both play it to the hilt," Mara said.

Now it is time to get him some touchdown passes. "His helmet comes off and his hair's going everywhere, and he's pointing to the crowd; you gotta love that kinda stuff," Collins said.

Shockey credited just about everyone but his hometown of Ada, Okla., Chamber of Commerce for the honor. "It's just not something that I did alone," he said.

Toomer (70-1,082-5 TDs) is having his best season, especially when you consider how much the Giants have missed Ike Hilliard. "Hey - I'll take him as much as anyone in the NFC right now," Collins said. "There's been no dip in his play at all this year. None whatsoever."

Tiki (All-Purpose) Barber should have been more than a Pro Bowl first alternate. "Tiki's given us that big play when we've needed it," Collins said. "For a guy his size, he amazes me how hard he runs and the punishment that he can dish out."

So you like your offense (93 points in three games)?

"I like it a lot," Collins said. "The offensive line this year, they've exceeded expectations. Certainly the media and the fans, maybe even ours here."

And what's your confidence level right now?

"As high as it's ever been," Collins said.

So you would not be fazed by a Shootout?

"No. Obviously that's a game where you kinda abandon the run and you're throwing it a lot or whatever. We're gonna try and do whatever it takes to win."

It will take plenty of Shockey, no doubt. TE coach Mike Pope compares Shockey's competitiveness to LT's. "It's not about the taunting, people don't understand that," Pope said. "LT would bet on two cockroaches running across. It's about the competition."

Pope was thrilled that Shockey had five pancake blocks last week. The Kid is a quick study. "We're watching the Denver [vs. Colts] game this morning," Pope said. "He is literally doing a play by play of the game before the plays ever come up. He'd say, 'Watch this, this is gonna happen, watch this, this is gonna happen,' and then he said, 'and the next play [Clinton] Portis is gonna fumble.' So I know he's watching the tapes at home."

This next one should be fun to watch.
DEc. 20,02