The showdown between the New York Giants' quarterbacks of the present and past was decided by Vince Tobin's gut feeling to switch to Jake Plummer.
Plummer replaced former Giants quarterback Dave Brown in the second half and threw two touchdown passes to lead Arizona to a 34-24 victory today, the Cardinals' third straight win and New York's third straight loss.
"It was a surprise seeing him," Cardinals defensive end Simeon Rice said. "We were apprehensive about his finger, but he came out there, and I think his presence made the offense just click a little better."
That's just what Tobin thought the Cardinals (5-6) needed after the Giants (5-6) scored twice late in the first half behind Kerry Collins to take a 10-6 lead.
"I felt there would be points scored in the second half," said Tobin, whose team is back in the playoff picture despite having Plummer sidelined since suffering a broken finger Oct. 17 against the Washington Redskins. "I wanted to do the thing that would best make us score some points. I felt like Jake gave us the best opportunity."
Plummer, who was 12 of 18 for 125 yards, took advantage of the first of three interceptions of Collins to hit Rob Moore for a go-ahead two-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter for a 13-10 lead. Plummer added a nine-yard touchdown pass to backup tight end Johnny Williams on the first play of the fourth quarter and led a 60-yard touchdown march that Mario Bates capped with a two-yard run after New York closed to 20-17 in the fourth quarter.
"There is really no pressure when you come in off the bench," Plummer said. "I told the coach thanks for getting me in there."
The result left both teams two games behind first-place Washington (7-4) in the NFC East with five games to play.
Eric Swann scored on a 42-yard interception return with 1 minute 57 seconds left to close out the scoring for Arizona, which got two field goals from Chris Jacke with Brown running the team in the first half.
Collins, 22 of 45 for 298 yards, had the three interceptions and a fumble, all in the second half after he scored on a one-yard sneak in leading New York to a 10-6 lead in an errorless first half. Afterward, he refused to count the Giants out of the hunt.
"We're still in it," said Collins, who was chosen to replace Kent Graham on Monday. "We have five games left, and let's be honest, we are probably going to have to win them all."
CAPTION: Cardinals defensive tackle Eric Swann scores on 42-yard interception return to seal 34-24 victory over the Giants.