New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms says he'll "take care" of his offensive line after the season, and, after today's 20-10 victory over the New York Jets, it looks as though he'll owe them plenty.
Simms was given lots of protection, particularly against NFL sack leader Mark Gastineau, as the Giants won their third straight game and moved back into a first-place tie in the National Conference East with a 9-5 record. Simms passed for 252 yards and led a ball-control offense that scored on four straight possessions in the second and third quarters.
"I got good protection early and that gave the linemen lots of confidence," Simms said. "We've got a pretty good offensive line. You don't expect to see them fall apart against a good pass rush."
Tackle Karl Nelson did most of the work holding off Gastineau, who wound up with a half-sack in his fourth straight subpar game.
"We didn't leave Karl alone all the time," Simms said. "We had help for him and kept Mark Gastineau off balance."
With Simms getting the time, he directed the team well. During a two-minute drill late in the second quarter, Simms moved his team into field goal position and Ali Haji-Sheikh kicked a 48-yarder for a 10-0 halftime lead.
"Phil did a really foxy job on that drive," Giants Coach Bill Parcells said. "He even fooled us on the sidelines a couple of times."
Rob Carpenter and Joe Morris each scored a touchdown as the Giants sent the Jets (6-8) to their sixth straight loss.
"We beat ourselves," said Jets Coach Joe Walton. "The Giants are a good football team, but they didn't win as much as we beat ourselves."
The Jets had three drives stopped by turnovers and set up a Giants touchdown on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
"The defense has always been able to create turnovers," Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor said. "The big difference now is the offense is able to take the turnovers and get it into the end zone."
The game was scoreless until Simms (18 of 28, 252 yards) directed the Giants on an 80-yard drive ended by Carpenter's one-yard leap into the end zone with 3:44 left in the first half.
The Giants had been prepared to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Haji-Sheikh, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against rookie linebacker Kyle Clifton, off the line of scrimmage when he leaped to try to block the kick, gave them first and goal at the two.
The unsportsmanlike penalty for not lining up on the line of scrimmage for a kick was added to the NFL rulebook this year. Clifton said he was aware of it, but became confused because he was not in his usual position for field goal attempts.
"I am used to lining up three yards back, but today I was on coverage and just did what I always did, which is to try to block (field goals)," Clifton said.
The Giants built a 17-0 lead on the 48-yard field goal by Haji-Sheikh (his longest this season) and an eight-yard touchdown run by Morris early in the third quarter. Haji-Sheikh also kicked a 30-yarder on the first play of the fourth period.
The Jets, who blew numerous opportunities, didn't score until Pat Leahy kicked a 43-yard field goal three minutes into the third period. Their only touchdown came on a 32-yard pass from Ken O'Brien to Lam Jones early in the fourth period.
That cut the Giants' lead to 10 points and O'Brien had the Jets on the move again before Haynes made his interception.
O'Brien was 28 of 41 for 351 yards, the first 300-yard passing day by a Jets quarterback this year and his first in two seasons as a pro. Tight end Mickey Shuler caught 11 passes for 127 yards, his best day in the NFL.
However, the Giants held Freeman McNeil, who entered the game leading the AFC with 1,028 yards rushing, to 42 on 14 carries.
Simms, who threw short passes to running back Tony Galbreath and on deep ones to his wide receivers and tight end Zeke Mowatt, was intercepted once and sacked four times.