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McNair does it all after not practicing all week

12/1/2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Maybe Steve McNair should skip
every Tennessee practice.

Question on the Titans: How big of a momentum lift was this for their playoff hopes?
This was one of those pivotal games for each team, and the win does give the Titans some good playoff momentum. Give lots of credit to coach Jeff Fisher. Also, QB Steve McNair has been key for Tennessee. The Titans are starting to get back to playing their kind of football.

Question on the Giants: What goes through a player's mind when you lose a game like this?
Another team might be able to rebound from a loss like this. But the Giants simply aren't a very good team. They can't afford to lose this kind of game, especially at home. The Giants need to realize that games are not won based on how many endorsements you have -- they're won on the field.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

After sitting out all week because of rib, shin and toe
injuries, McNair threw three touchdown passes, ran for a game-tying
2-point conversion and set up Joe Nedney's 38-yard field goal in
overtime to give the Titans a 32-29 victory over the New York
Giants on Sunday.

"Steve did a tremendous job of guiding the team to victory,''
said receiver Derrick Mason, who had 12 catches for 116 yards and a
touchdown. "His ribs are battered. His feet are hurting and he
still scrambled to put us in position (on the game-tying score). To
me, Steve is the best quarterback in the NFL.''

McNair, who was 30-of-43 for 334 yards, also is the reason the
Titans (7-5) have won six of seven and are in the thick of the
playoff chase, unlike the Giants (6-6).

"We can't even look at the playoffs any more,'' Giants running
back Tiki Barber said after their second straight loss. "We don't
control what happens any more. We have to rely on other teams to
lose. The one thing we can control is to win.''

McNair didn't know until game time whether he was going to play.
He was still in pain three hours before kickoff, but he felt better
as the game got close.

"I felt I was going to play as long as I didn't take a hit or
aggravate it any further,'' said McNair, who bounced back after
throwing three interceptions in a loss to Baltimore last weekend.

The Giants had their chances to put the Titans away late in the
fourth quarter when they got a first-and-goal from Tennessee's 1
following a 34-yard pass from Kerry Collins to Amani Toomer.

However, the Giants lost a yard in three plays and settled for
Matt Bryant's 19-yard field goal to take a 29-21 lead with 2:21 to
go.

McNair made the Giants pay for not punching the ball in, driving
81 yards in 12 plays. He hit tight end Frank Wycheck on a 9-yard TD
pass with 9 seconds to play. After a video review allowed the
catch, McNair strolled into the end zone on a quarterback draw to
tie the game at 29.

McNair said the Giants double-teamed his receivers, so he
decided on the draw.

"I knew that's what I had to do,'' he said.

The Giants received the overtime kickoff and got to the Titans'
46 going into a stiff wind. But Toomer was called for offensive
pass interference, nullifying a gain to the Titans' 32.

The Titans took over at their 20 and McNair hit Drew Bennett for
12 yards, John Simon for 23 and Mason for 12. A 14-yard run by
Robert Holcombe eventually set up Nedney's winning kick with 10:00
to go in OT.

Eddie George, who broke Earl Campbell's franchise rushing record
early in the game, also scored on a 1-yard run. He didn't play much
in the final half as the Titans used an empty backfield.

McNair also threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Mason and a
26-yarder to Bennett just before halftime for a 14-10 lead.

Collins threw TD passes of 1 yard to Dan Campbell and 24 yards
to Ron Dixon. Barber scored on a 1-yard run.

The Giants got the wind at the start of the second half and took
advantage.

Collins, who was 22-of-36 for 283 yards, hit Dixon to give New
York the lead. Barber scored early in the fourth quarter on a score
set up by a pass interference penalty against Tank Williams, and
New York went for the 2-point conversion. Collins' pass fell
incomplete, a decision that came back to haunt New York.

Michael Strahan set up Bryant's early 38-yard field goal by
sacking McNair and forcing a fumble that Dhani Jones recovered at
the Titans 37. Strahan has at least half a sack in 10 straight
games, tying an NFL record held Jevon Kearse (1999) and Simon Fletcher (1991).

Game notes
Giants CB Jason Sehorn got his second start of the year
with Will Peterson sidelined with a concussion. He led the Giants
with 11 tackles, nine solo ... Giants MLB Mike Barrow left in the
third quarter with a concussion. ... Titans CB Samari Rolle missed
the second half with a shoulder injury. ... Tennessee LB Keith Bullock pulled a hamstring. ... Tennessee outgained New York
476-345, including 142-62 on the ground. ... Six of Barber's first
10 rushes were for minus yards. He finished with 22 carries for 64
yards. ... There were only six punts in the game.