Burnett Talks Giants
Kevin Burnett
Posted Oct 14, 2005

Much has been made this week about the explosive New York Giants offense the Cowboys will face Sunday.

Eli Manning, the Giants' second-year quarterback, suddenly is drawing comparisons to his brother Peyton -- nothing like setting the bar high, huh? Free agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress is being mentioned (by some) in the same breath as wideout heavyweights Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Tiki Barber is widely regarded as one of the elite running backs in the NFL, and Jeremy Shockey is so dangerous that the Giants just signed him to a contract extension that makes him the highest-paid tight end in the country.

Theories abound about the way to stop the suddenly potent New York offense. Put pressure on Manning. Double-team Burress. Stack the line of scrimmage to stop Barber.

But according to rookie linebacker Kevin Burnett, none of those ideas hold the key to derailing the Giant express.

"It's not stopping one guy," Burnett said. "It's first down. They're averaging about 6 yards on first down. If we can manage that, we have a chance to be successful."

When the Giants are able to gain significant yardage on first down, the offensive coaches have many more options from which to choose out of their playbook. The opposing defense, therefore, has to prepare for more possibilities. So limiting the Giants' yardage on first down will help limit the array of formations the Cowboys might face on second and third down.

Despite the Giants' tradition of being a defense-first team, their prolific offense certainly has caught the Cowboys' attention.

"They're definitely not a team that's flown under the radar, at least not in our eyes," Burnett said. "They're first in the league in a lot of categories, and they're carrying a lot of momentum.

"But we've got to contain them on first down. We do a lot of similar things, so we've got a good idea of a lot of what their offense will do. As long as we don't give them a crease to throw the ball, we've got a chance to succeed."

With that said, Burnett acknowledges the considerable talents of Manning, Burress, Barber and Shockey. But he said they are not the only weapons on the New York offense.

"They've got a big-play running back (Barber), wide receiver (Burress) and tight end (Shockey)," Burnett said. "But they've also got … I don't want to call them 'role players' … I'd call them 'other guys.' Amani Toomer and No. 85 (David Tyree), they're burners. They're not role players -- they can beat you."

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