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    Jul 17, 2003
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    By Phil Foley
    PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

    ATLANTA (Ticker) - Plaxico Burress woke up on Sunday feeling thefamiliar pain in his sore right ankle. Luckily for the NewYork Giants, he was feeling better 24 hours later.

    Burress grabbed his NFL-leading eighth touchdown pass and AmaniToomer found the end zone once and set the franchise record forreceptions to lead the Giants to a 31-10 victory over the woefulAtlanta Falcons on Monday night.

    The tandem of Eli Manning to Burress has been a lethalcombination this season for the Giants, despite the fact thatthe duo has not practiced together since the second week of theseason.

    With Burress feeling eons better than he did one day earlier, itwas no different Monday night.

    Manning found Burress six times for 97 yards and the touchdownto lead the Giants (4-2) to their fourth consecutive victory.

    "We're approaching every game like we want to win," Burresssaid. "We lost our first two games and everybody put us in thedumpster. We kept fighting."

    New York also won the 600th game in franchise history, joiningthe Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers as the only teams toreach that milestone.

    Manning connected with Burress on a 43-yard pass deep down themiddle of the field to give the Giants a 21-10 lead with 8:28remaining in the second quarter.

    "It was just a play-action pass," Burress said. "I saw himcoming up, so I took off. I didn't want him to grab me, so Ijust ran right on."

    It was the eighth time that the tandem has found the end zonethis season - tying Burress with New England's Randy Moss forthe NFL lead.

    "I've always said I think we need him there in practice,"Manning said. "But now, I'm thinking we don't have to. He'sdone a great job getting in tune with what we're doingoffensively and getting open."

    "Everybody's acting like we haven't been playing together,"Burress said. "We've been playing together for two years. Iknow where I have to be at. It's just me being in the rightplace to catch the football."

    Manning finished 27-for-39 for 303 yards with two touchdowns andtwo interceptions.

    The 30-year-old Burress also helped keep the Giants' first drivealive by grabbing a 15-yard pass on a crucial 3rd-and-9 to giveNew York a first down at the Falcons 32.

    Seven plays later, Manning found Toomer in the end zone for thefirst time this season with a 5-yard pass to give the Giants a7-3 lead with 5:32 left in the first quarter.

    Atlanta's Demorrio Williams committed a costlyroughing-the-kicker penalty to keep the drive alive.

    Toomer had seven catches for 89 yards and a touchdown for theGiants, including his franchise-leading 587th reception on a16-yard pass from Manning in the fourth quarter.

    "I can't let it sink in right now," Toomer said. "I'm justexcited about winning. I'm happy about it, naturally."

    "I call him the goat - greatest of all time," said defensive endand Giants franchise sack leader Michael Strahan of Toomer."He deserves it. He just makes plays. He just makes it happen.I'm happy for him. I'm proud for him. I may just buy him agift."

    Former Cleveland Browns running back Reuben Droughns capped asix-play, 82-yard touchdown drive with a 1-yard run to give theGiants a 14-10 edge with 2:08 remaining in the first.

    Backup running back Derrick Ward capped the scoring with a9-yard touchdown run with 3:08 remaining to account for thefinal margin.

    With Atlanta (1-5) starting tackles Wayne Gandy and Todd Weinerboth out, the Falcons turned to two undrafted players to man thetackle position.

    Renardo Foster, who played under Atlanta coach Bobby Petrino atLouisville, got the start at left tackle and former NFL EuropeHamburg Sea Devil guard Tyson Clabo was given his first careerstart at right tackle.

    Surprisingly, the makeshift line did not fare much worse earlyon than the line that allowed seven sacks to the fleet-footedformer quarterback Mike Vick against the Giants last season,giving Joey Harrington enough protection to engineer two scoringdrives in the first quarter.

    Morten Andersen's 47-yard field goal gave the Falcons a 3-0 leadat 11:47 of the first quarter. Jerious Norwood then rumbled 67yards off right tackle to give the Falcons a 10-7 lead 18seconds after Toomer's touchdown.

    But it was all downhill from there for Atlanta.

    The pocket soon collapsed around Harrington, who took over forthe disgraced Vick after he plead guilty to federal dogfightingcharges. He was sacked three times in the second quarter andonce in the second half.

    "Eventually, (the Giants) started to dominate the line ofscrimmage," Petrino said. "I thought we ran the ball (well)early. Eventually, we couldn't sustain the run and execute thepassing game."

    Atlanta finished with just 14 first downs to the Giants' 28 andheld onto the football for just 20:22.

    Harrington, the former No. 3 overall pick in 2002, finished18-for-39 for 209 yards and one interception.

    "I think we started off fine, then it seemed as if we hit a wallin the second quarter," Harrington said. "We have to give (theGiants) credit because they stuck to their game plan and neverwent away from it."

    Lawrence Tynes added a field goal in the fourth quarter for theGiants, who have not lost to the Falcons in Atlanta sinceOctober 1, 1978.

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