Giants look to rebound at Arizona

BOB BAUM

, Last Updated: 2:48 PM ET

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The New York Giants used to make the trek to that half-empty stadium in the desert annually when the Arizona Cardinals were geographically misplaced in the NFC East.

Now it's an occasional, welcome getaway from the hypercritical fans of New York.

The depleted Giants head to the Southwest on Sunday, trying to rebound from an ugly home loss to Chicago against an Arizona squad seeking a rare two-game winning streak.

With their starting defensive ends, including team leader Michael Strahan, gone for the season, and with two losses in three games, the Giants need a turnaround performance.

"This is the NFL. Sometimes you go through those stretches where you just don't play well enough to win," New York coach Tom Coughlin said. "But you can't just allow yourself to get into that rut where you're starting to question your ability, and you're starting to question whether you can win."

Expect Arizona to test the replacements for the injured Strahan and Keith Washington, who both went down against the Bears.

Young Josh McCown might realistically hope to get a bit more time to throw to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

"They are going to try to let their receivers take a little more time to get into their routes, let the quarterback set and make better decisions," safety Brent Alexander said. "We have to play sound football and get good pressure on them."

The Cardinals try to get the run game going first with Emmitt Smith, who needs 17 yards to reach 18,000 for his career.

Coughlin hasn't said who will start at end, but Osi Umenyiora, Lance LeGree, recently activated Lorenzo Bromell and recently signed Chuck Wiley are possibilities. Others on the defence will have to help make up for the losses, too.

"I think it will happen more on a team basis," Coughlin said. "I'm anxious and looking forward to seeing how that part of it works out."

Kurt Warner probably is glad to get out of the city after an awful game that left many Giants fans and critics wondering when he would be benched in favor of rookie Eli Manning. Warner threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball away twice against the Bears. He was sacked seven times, the most allowed by the Giants since 1996. That was more than enough to have the shouts for Manning, the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, come on in relief, something that never happened.

"When we came out of training camp, Kurt Warner was the quarterback. He still is the quarterback," Coughlin said. "Eli is in the process of developing."

Warner said he takes the New York criticism in stride.

"Really, you have got to try to block it out and not worry about it," he said, "because you knew it was going to happen as soon as things didn't go well. You still have to look at the big picture, too. This isn't about one game. This is about a season."

The Giants face an Arizona defence that has been opportunistic but prone to giving up big chunks of yards on the ground. That could mean a big day for Tiki Barber.

"That's obviously been the strength of our offence all year long," Warner said. "That's what we do best."

The other big weapon is tight end Jeremy Shockey.

"I'll be playing over there on him sometimes," Arizona linebacker James Darling said. "And with Tiki, they run the ball well, like it's a well-oiled machine. We have to do our job fast and physical, because they are a smash-mouth team."

The Cardinals (3-5) are 2-1 at home, with victories over New Orleans and Seattle. After snapping a 17-game road losing streak with a 24-23 victory at Miami, Arizona is looking for its first two-game winning streak since the midpoint of last season.

"They are better than a 5-3 team," Cardinals coach Dennis Green said of the Giants. "They are more like a 7-1 team. They have an ability to run the ball extremely well. They've got the leading all-purpose player in Tiki Barber, they've got a tight end who is considered the best pass-catching tight end in the game. That makes it tough.

"If you stop the back and you stop the tight end, you have a chance to win. But it's hard to stop them both."


Videos

Photos