New York Nicks jammin' in Houston

In Olajuwon's town, Giants' own Hakeem the Dream continues torrid two-game tear

Updated: October 11, 2010, 12:43 PM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk |

HOUSTON -- Eli Manning could barely contain his smile when asked about his connection with Hakeem Nicks.

Nicks shredded a suspect Houston secondary for 12 catches, 130 yards and two touchdowns in the New York Giants' 34-10 win over the Texans on Sunday.

And Nicks actually might've had two more touchdowns had he not been knocked out at the 1 on a first-quarter, 27-yard reception and dropped another potential touchdown later.

"I gave him hell," Manning joked. "I guess you don't want four touchdowns on the day."

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
AP Photo/Dave EinselHakeem Nicks has 20 catches for 240 yards in the Giants' consecutive wins over Chicago and Houston.

Despite that, Nicks still fell one reception shy of tying Tiki Barber's franchise record of 13 in one game, set against Dallas on Jan. 2, 2000.

Considering the way Nicks is playing, Barber's record might not last long. In his last two games, Nicks has an eye-popping total of 20 receptions for 240 yards and two scores.

That's the type of production expected from Andre Johnson, who was overshadowed by Nicks' performance. Johnson, the Texans receiver who is considered one of the best in the league, finished with just five receptions for 95 yards after being shut out in the first half.

That was when Nicks was putting on a show, snagging seven balls for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Manning was particularly proud of Nicks' second score, which came on a 12-yard strike.

It was this play that showed just how in tune Manning is with his big playmaker. Manning, who completed 11 straight passes at one point with seven of them going to Nicks, had told his receivers that the Houston safeties tended to focus in on running backs out in the flat. So when Ahmad Bradshaw went out for a short pass to the left, safety Bernard Pollard moved up and Manning hit Nicks in the back of the end zone.

Manning was grinning when asked about the touchdown, which put the Giants up 21-0 with 12:56 left in the second quarter.

"I got all the receivers in the film room on Friday and I said, 'This is what is going to happen,'" said Manning, who threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns with two third-quarter interceptions. "'The safeties will bite down on the back.' I told the back to do something different to get out and get that safety's attention. I gave him a little pump fake and hit Hakeem wide open."

"It is fun when those things work," Manning added. "It is not really what the coach had drawn up. You kind of see things on your own."

In his second season, Nicks is starting to come into his own. He opened the season with a three-touchdown game against Carolina. He had eight receptions against Chicago last week only to top it in Houston, which is certainly accustomed to seeing a Hakeem (Olajuwon) lose defenders with a dream shake or two.

Nicks was kicking himself for dropping a potential touchdown.

"Just took my eyes off of it," said Nicks, who has had a few passes bounce off his hands this season for interceptions. "I will be the first one to tell you, if it is coming my way, I need to catch it. I would love to have it back. But things happen in crunch time. I'd like to make up for it."

Manning thinks Nicks will do just that.

"I think teams have to account for him," Manning said. "He is making plays. He is getting better in his route running, more confident. I would assume we are going to get more two [safeties] high, more double, a safety over the top of him. [That] should open things up for Steve [Smith]. You never know who is going to have the hot day."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for Follow him on Twitter.

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Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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