4:15 PM ET, October 23, 2005
Denver (5-1) at NY Giants (3-2), Sunday 4:15 pm EDT
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos head into Giants Stadium with a five-game winning streak. It's their longest streak since 1998, when they walked into Giants Stadium with a 13-0 record and left with a loss.
Wide receiver Amani Toomer, running back Tiki Barber and defensive end Michael Strahan are the only members of the New York Giants who remain from the 1998 team that ended Denver's bid for a perfect season. Toomer caught a 37-yard touchdown pass with just 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter to lift the Giants to a 20-16 win.
The Broncos recovered and went on to finish 14-2 en route to its second straight Super Bowl title under Shanahan.
Denver may be thinking about the Super Bowl again after posting a 28-20 victory over the two-time defending champion New England Patriots last week.
But this marks the third straight year the Broncos have started with a 5-1 record. Each of the last two seasons ended with resounding losses to Indianapolis (49-24 and 41-10) in the AFC wild card round.
The Giants have not made the playoffs since 2002, but could be headed back with a nucleus of quarterback Eli Manning, Barber, tight end Jeremy Shockey and wide receiver Plaxico Burress on offense and Strahan and linebacker Antonio Pierce on defense.
New York is 3-0 at home this season, counting the 27-10 win over New Orleans on September 19 that was technically regarded as a "road game" at Giants Stadium.
Wide receiver Rod Smith, center Tom Nalen, tight end Dwayne Carswell, defensive end Trevor Pryce and kicker Jason Elam are among the Broncos that are still around from the team that lost here but repeated as Super Bowl champions in 1998.
Smith, who is in his 11th season with the Broncos, continues to roll on. The franchise leader in receptions and yards, Smith caught six passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in the win over New England last week.
Shanahan's offensive game plan was effective against Bill Belichick's defensive scheme as the Broncos gained 432 yards. Jake Plummer completed 17-of-24 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and Denver rushed for 178 yards.
After rushing for a career-high 127 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Washington, Tatum Bell followed with 114 yards and a score on just 13 carries against the Patriots.
But Shanahan may give some carries to Ron Dayne in this game. After winning the Heisman Trophy in 1999, Dayne was selected in the first round by the Giants but spent five unproductive seasons in New York. He signed with Denver as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and is playing behind Bell and Mike Anderson.
The Giants averaged 34 points in their first four games, but committed four turnovers in a 16-13 overtime loss at Dallas last week.
Manning threw for 215 yards with more than half going to Shockey, who finished with five catches for 129 yards, including the game-tying 28-yard touchdown with 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
New York forced four turnovers and Strahan recorded two sacks last week, but the Giants lost the overtime coin flip and let Drew Bledsoe complete three passes for 49 yards to set up the winning field goal by Jose Cortez.
The Broncos hope Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey will be able to return Sunday. He has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. Two rookies - Darrent Williams and Domonique Foxworth - have filled in at left cornerback in Bailey's absence.
Matchup to watch: Broncos right tackle George Foster faces Strahan, who is 11th all-time with 123 1/2 sacks.
Series: The Giants lead, 5-4, including a win in Super Bowl XXI.
Next week: Denver hosts Philadelphia, October 30 NY Giants host Washington, October 30
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New York Giants
|Avg Points Allowed||18.7||22.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DEN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DEN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Series tied 1-1|
|Sep 10, 2001||DEN 31, NYG 20|