Griffin, Dixon: Giants rookies coming out of Dayne's shadow.

One is a self-admitted momma's boy, although it's best to have a smile on your face when you call him that.

The other has had so much trouble getting to work on time, his mother calls him up every morning around 6 o'clock.

Meet Cornelius Griffin and Ron Dixon.

For most of the season, the New York Giants' second-and-third-round draft picks have been in the shadow of Ron Dayne, the Heisman Trophy-winning halfback who was the team's first-round draft pick.

Not anymore. Heading into the NFC Championship on Sunday at Giants Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings can't afford to overlook Griffin and Dixon any more than Dayne, who rushed for 770 yards and five touchdowns.

Dixon, taken in the third round, ignited the Giants' 20-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend by returning the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.

It was the type of play the Giants envisioned when they gambled on the fleet receiver from little Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn.

Griffin, the muscular second-round pick from Alabama, had 1 1/2 sacks and four tackles against the Eagles, including one dash where the 300-pound defensive tackle ran down quarterback Donovan McNabb.

``We're just going to try to handle our business,'' Dixon said. ``It's the same thing every game. Try to do something special.''

The kickoff return marked the first time Dixon did something special on the field.

Before that, he was known for his problems getting to practice on time. He was fined for missing a meeting the day before the season opener against Arizona. He overslept. That also was his excuse the day before a game with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 10. He was suspended for a game.

``That's behind me,'' Dixon said. ``I have confidence in my teammates. I know they have my back and I have theirs.''

Griffin has played so well, he might be getting more time than starting tackle Christian Peter.

``I don't want to get caught up in it,'' said the somewhat shy Griffin, who probably did more interviews this week than he had in the past month. ``I just want to play. I don't want to talk about it. Let's go do it.''

Giants coach Jim Fassel thinks Griffin, who had 24 tackles and five sacks in the regular season, is going to be a special player.

The Giants had him rated among the top 20 players in the draft, so getting him with the 42nd pick overall was a steal.

``I never thought about why I fell,'' Griffin said. ``It doesn't matter. It's not important any more. The only thing that is important is what I do on the field.''

Griffin amends that quickly. Off the field is just as important. That's the way he was raised by his parents. He talks with his mother almost daily. His father, a pastor, was killed in an automobile accident with a drunken driver four years ago.

``I was talking to my father a couple of hours before it happened,'' Griffin said. ``I was at my girl's church when it happened. I came back and there were a lot of cars in my driveway. I knew something was wrong.''

Griffin became the man of his family that night.

``My dad didn't raise no boy,'' Griffin said. ``I could handle it. I was always taught if you have adversity, you stay there and fight. There will always be a sunny day.''

If the Giants win, they will be heading to sun, and the Super Bowl.