Los Angeles Times

Giants' Collins played with separated shoulder

The Associated Press

One day after the New York Giants' Super Bowl meltdown, quarterback Kerry Collins disclosed he separated his right shoulder during the third quarter.

``I wasn't coming out, though,'' Collins said Monday, following his poor performance against the Baltimore Ravens.

Collins said Sam Adams, one of the Ravens' 300-pound plus defensive linemen, fell on him with his ``full weight,'' causing the injury.

After the game, Michael Strahan walked up to Collins and gave him a hug. It was a thank you from the defensive end.

Thanks for the season. Thanks for helping us get to the Super Bowl. Thanks for helping to make us respectable again.

The hug was also Strahan's way of letting Collins know not to worry about his four interceptions, including one that Duane Starks returned for a touchdown in the Ravens' 34-7 victory Sunday night.

``I went up to him and gave him a hug and said `Get back at it next year,''' Strahan said. ``And I think that's the great thing about this. It gives us something to shoot for next year. I don't think we knew what it took to get here before the season.''

While Collins appreciated the support, he handled his dismal performance against the Ravens' suffocating defense the same way he has handled his problems with alcohol and being called a quitter and a racist.

He was up front. He said he ..... well, played very poorly in completing 15 of 39 passes for 112 yards.

``This is the most disappointing loss I have ever been involved in,'' Collins said. ``I am disappointed in the way I played. It wasn't for a lack of effort or a lack of preparation. I didn't play the way I wanted to.''

The Ravens never let him, taking away the Giants' running game (66 yards on 16 carries) and keeping Collins under constant pressure while passing.

Collins was sacked four times, hit at least a half-dozen other times and forced to scramble three times for 12 yards. His longest completion was for only 19 yards. Only six of his completions were to his wideouts, his main targets all season. His four interceptions tied a Super Bowl record set by Jim Kelly in 1993.

``I didn't see the field well,'' said the 28-year-old quarterback who set career highs this season of 3,610 yards and 22 touchdowns. ``They did a great job of disguising coverages. They just played well, and we didn't play well at all.''

Collins' performance on Sunday was a far cry from his near-perfect effort two weeks ago when he went 28-for-39 for 381 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-0 win over Minnesota in the NFC championship game.

Collins was confident and in command that day against the Vikings, the league's 28th-ranked defense.

The Ravens made Collins look confused. Many of his throws went into good coverage, something he rarely did in getting the Giants to the playoffs for the first time since 1997.

``I think I learned what it takes to get here,'' said Collins, signed by the Giants in February 1998 after being let go by New Orleans. ``I think I learned what it takes to play well in this league. I learned to play at a high level throughout the playoffs.''

Collins, who almost drank and played himself out of the league in 1998, said the Super Bowl won't ruin his confidence.

``We'll be back. We'll be back,'' he said. ``We'll live to fight another day. It didn't work out today. I played terrible, but I'll come back.''

The Ravens got after Collins right from the start, forcing the Giants' offense to the sidelines without a first down on five of their first six series.

Baltimore's front seven pressured Collins from the first snap. On several passes over the middle, linebacker Ray Lewis had a hand up tipping the ball. Two almost were intercepted on the opening drive.

And when Collins challenged the secondary, Starks, Chris McAlister, Kim Herring and Rod Woodson were there to make plays.

In the end, Collins ended up losing his poise, and that cost the Giants the game.

Trailing 10-0 late in the second quarter, Collins drove the Giants from their own 28 to the Ravens 29, hitting Ron Dixon for 16 yards and having Tiki Barber run for 27 more.

Collins then tried to force a deep post pattern into double coverage to Ike Hilliard. McAlister easily picked it off, killing the Giants' best scoring opportunity of the half.

``The coverage I thought I was going to get after I took the snap wasn't what we saw,'' Collins said. ``I have Ike running free, and it was just a misread on my part.''

Starks' interception return came on a quick slant to Amani Toomer. Starks reacted like he knew the play call, and he ran untouched into the end zone for a 17-0 lead.

``The way I feel about him is not going to change,'' Giants coach Jim Fassel said. ``He played well. It wasn't one of his better games today. It doesn't change the fact I think he is a big-time quarterback.''

Against the Ravens, Collins wasn't.

It's why he got a hug from big Michael Strahan.

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