Sunday, January 28, 2001

Boring Giants will win

        TAMPA, Fla. — One team has come to the circus. The other is the circus. The Baltimore Ravens are Tony Siragusa, sprawling, profane and born with a full dose of themselves. The New York Giants are Jim Fassel, whoever he is.

        If you want to know the greatness of the Ravens defenders, just ask them. If you want to know if the Giants are actually here, good luck. Both teams say they lack respect. They may have a point. The day after the Ravens won the AFC title game, Regis Philbin was discussing Baltimore's placekicker, “Ben” Stover.

        What a foof. Everyone knows his name isn't Ben Stover. It's Ben Dover.

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        Neither team would stand a chance against the Joe Montana-Steve Young 49ers or the Steel Curtain Steelers or even the Brett Favre Packers.

        The Giants can score a little. The Ravens couldn't score if they were locked in a room with a harem of exotic dancers.

        But the Ravens do play frightful defense. They want to be known as the best ever, and at the moment they've got a crowbar in the door frame and they're sawing the deadbolt. If the Ravens win, it will be because their defense dominated yet another game. The door will come crashing down.

Collins is key

        Can the Giants block Ray Lewis? Maybe, but nobody else has. Just to get to Lewis, they have to move Siragusa and Pro Bowler Sam Adams, who together weigh about seven pickup trucks. It's like pushing a piano through a keyhole.

        Can the Ravens offense score? I'd feel a lot better about it if they had Albert Belle hitting cleanup.

        But the pick is the Giants. Kerry Collins is a better quarterback than Trent Dilfer. Great QBs don't always get their teams to Super Bowls. Great QBs do win them once they arrive. Not that Collins is great. But compared to Dilfer, he's John Elway.

        Collins can do some of what he did against Minnesota two weeks ago. He can complete the quick slants and the short, three-step-drop routes on first down without fear of Lewis decapitating him. He's quick picking up blitzes. Collins also was better at not throwing interceptions than Dilfer, whose biggest asset has been not throwing interceptions.

        Collins was intercepted 13 times in 529 throws, Dilfer 11 times in 226 throws.

        The Giants will win because their defense is second in the league against the run, and if the Ravens can't run, how will they kill their time on offense?

Vanilla, not vain

        The Giants will win because they are so buttoned-down dull, nobody knew they were in town. The Bud Bowl got more attention than they did. Fassel is rumored to be here. No one knows if he brought his team with him.

        The Giants didn't discuss a homecoming every day, the way Dilfer did. No one asked them any double-murder questions. They weren't caught up in their own glory. Fassel swears he's best friends with Ravens coach Brian Billick. Publicly, Fassel is the next-door neighbor you never see. Billick is the next-door neighbor you wish you'd never see.

        Billick, I believe, knows everything. If you asked him how to change a light bulb, he'd give you Edison's biography.

        Said Giants defensive lineman Michael Strahan: “We're boring. I like boring. When we got boring, we started to win.”

        They won't stop tonight. New York, 16-10.

        Paul Daugherty welcomes your comments at (513) 768-8454.

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