Originally created 01/08/01

Giants 20, Eagles 10

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- All the New York Giants needed to put the Philadelphia Eagles in a hole this time was the opening kickoff.

After that, Jason Sehorn and the defense simply made life miserable for Donovan McNabb.

Ron Dixon raced 97 yards untouched with the opening kickoff and Sehorn tipped a ball to himself and scored on a spectacular 32-yard interception return as the Giants defeated the Eagles 20-10 on Sunday to advance to the NFC title game for the first time since 1990.

The Giants (13-4) will face Minnesota (12-5) here next week for the right to go to Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 28 for the Super Bowl. The Vikings beat New Orleans 34-16 on Saturday.

The victory was the Giants' sixth straight since coach Jim Fassel guaranteed that the team would make the playoffs for the first time since '97, but this one was by far their worst performance in the streak.

Luckily, it came against a team New York has dominated since Fassel took over four years ago. The Giants have beaten the Eagles nine straight times, including three this season.

The Giants tried to be generous against the Eagles (12-6) this time, turning the ball over three times, but Sehorn, Michael Strahan (two sacks) and the rest of the defense confounded McNabb for the third time this season. He was sacked six times for 41 yards in losses and the Eagles were limited to 186 total yards.

McNabb, who was 20-for-41 for 181 yards and one interception, didn't get Philadelphia to the end zone until a blocked punt set up a 10-yard TD pass to Torrance Small. But the Giants recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

The Giants and Vikings did not play this season, but this is going to be a grudge game for New York, which was eliminated from the playoffs in 1997 by Minnesota after blowing a nine-point lead in the final 1:38 of a wild-card game.

The Giants needed just 17 seconds to show the Eagles that things would be no different this time.

Dixon, who was suspended for a game against the Steelers on Dec. 10 for oversleeping for a team meeting, had little trouble answering the bell for this one. He fielded David Akers' kick at the 3-yard line, went straight through a gaping hole in the middle and sprinted into the end zone after running around Akers at Giants' 40-yard line.

The defense set up the next 10 points.

Shaun Williams forced a fumble by Small late in the first quarter and Dave Thomas recovered at the Eagles' 34. Six plays later, Daluiso kicked a 37-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead. He added a 25-yarder in the fourth quarter.

Sehorn broke the Eagles' back with 1:40 left in the half with a highlight-film interception. He dived in front of Small on an out pattern, momentarily got his hands on the ball, then tipped it in the air and caught it. He quickly got up and ran for the touchdown, making one fake at the 20.

The Giants, who didn't turn the ball over in dominating the Eagles twice in the regular season, turned the ball over three times in a game played on a rather pleasant day with game-time temperatures in the upper 30s.

The Eagles' best chance to get back into the game came in the third quarter when Amani Toomer, subbing on punt returns for Barber, fumbled and Mike Bartrum recovered at New York's 32.

McNabb drove Philadelphia to the Giants 13, but he didn't come close on a third-down pass, and Akers hooked a 31-yard field goal attempt wide right.


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