On the New York Giants' first offensive play last Sunday at Giants Stadium, wide receiver Plaxico Burress lined up on the side of the field usually patrolled by cornerback Champ Bailey. There was Bailey, waiting to commence a duel between one of the league's top cornerbacks and the wideout who has helped to spur the development of second-year quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants' offense.
On the Giants' second play, Burress lined up on the opposite side of the field -- and yet there, again, was Bailey staring across the line of scrimmage at him.
"I was surprised to see that," Burress said after the game. "I didn't expect him to follow me to both sides of the field. I said, 'Oh man, I've got my work cut out for me today.' He's one of the best there is. We had a good battle. I won some, and he won some."
Burress, playing with a sore back, had six catches for 84 yards in the Giants' 24-23 triumph. He outmaneuvered Bailey for an 18-yard touchdown grab on a first-quarter jump-ball lob pass thrown by Manning. Bailey had what might have been the game-clinching interception in the fourth quarter. But the Denver offense couldn't move the ball and had to punt, and Manning led the Giants to a winning touchdown in the final seconds.
The Broncos' strategy of putting Bailey on Burress wherever he went likely gave a hint about the approach they'll take Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles and wide receiver Terrell Owens. If Bailey followed Burress all over the field, he'll probably do the same thing against Owens.
The Eagles need this game to keep a share of first place in the NFC East, and most of the talk in and around their organization this week was of the need to establish some semblance of a running game. Quarterback Donovan McNabb threw 54 passes in last Sunday's triumph over the San Diego Chargers, while tailback Brian Westbrook got only 10 carries. That, however, didn't stop Owens from telling ESPN that the ball should come his way more often. He just can't help himself.
"They're not getting the ball in our hands enough," Owens, who's tied for the league lead with 44 receptions, told the network. "Myself and Westbrook are supposed to be playmakers. Then that's what we need to do." . . . Eagles special teams coach John Harbaugh told reporters Thursday that, because of a mix-up, the club had only 10 players on the field when it scored the winning touchdown against the Chargers on a return of a blocked field goal.
Carswell Done For Season
Broncos offensive lineman Dwayne Carswell remained in critical but stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Denver-area hospital Thursday night after suffering internal injuries in a car accident earlier in the day. Carswell suffered a ruptured spleen, a ruptured diaphragm, multiple rib fractures and a contusion of his entire left internal cavity, according to the Broncos, and will not play again this season.
Roster Spot for Bruschi
The New England Patriots gave no official indication about whether they'll activate linebacker Tedy Bruschi for Sunday night's game against the Buffalo Bills. But they have an available roster spot after placing cornerback Tyrone Poole on the injured reserve list Thursday because of an ankle injury. Bruschi, who suffered a mild stroke in February, resumed practicing last week and has expressed hope that he'll play Sunday. He's on the physically unable to perform list, giving the Patriots another week and a half to put him on the active roster on the IR list . . . .
San Francisco 49ers Coach Mike Nolan made it official Thursday and named Ken Dorsey the club's starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rookie Alex Smith is sidelined by a knee injury. Dorsey made seven starts last season but was the team's third-string quarterback this season until Tim Rattay was traded to the Buccaneers last week, elevating Dorsey to be Smith's top backup. On Sunday, Dorsey leads the NFL's 31st-ranked offense against the league's top-ranked defense.
Mara's Funeral Today
The funeral for long-time Giants owner Wellington Mara, who died Tuesday, is scheduled for today at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Current NFL head coaches Bill Parcells, John Fox and Romeo Crennel are among the many prominent people in the league expected to attend, even with their teams preparing to play games Sunday.
Pat-Downs Overturned in Tampa
A judge in Tampa, Fla., issued a temporary injunction halting security pat-downs of fans before Buccaneers games. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Buccaneers season-ticket holder, and the injunction will halt the pat-downs until the case is decided.
The NFL implemented the measure at all stadiums this season. According to the league, pat-downs at other stadiums should not be affected.