Giants Miss Their Chance, Lose to the Packers, 23-20

<i> From Times Wire Services </i>

The New York Giants weren’t second-guessing themselves Sunday after kicker Ali Haji-Sheikh, troubled by a pulled hamstring, came up short on a field-goal attempt that would have tied the Green Bay Packers.

“He told me he could kick it,” Coach Bill Parcells said after the Packers edged the Giants, 23-20. “He told me the hamstring wasn’t bothering him.”

“I hit it all, but got a little under it,” said Haji-Sheikh, who kicked field goals of 23 and 52 yards in the first half.

After the second field goal, he limped off the field.

“I think we did the right thing,” said Giant quarterback Phil Simms, who completed 21 of 40 passes for 272 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Green Bay Coach Forrest Gregg wasn’t surprised.

“I thought they’d go for the field goal. After all, he had made a 52-yarder.”


Both of Simms’ touchdown passess came in the second half. Tight end Don Hasselbeck caught a 20-yard pass from Simms in the third quarter for the Giants’ first touchdown of the game. Simms’ five-yard pass to Lionel Manuel in the fourth quarter put the Giants in the lead for the first time.

After the two Haji-Sheikh field goals, the Packers scored a touchdown on a one-yard pass from Lynn Dickey to tight end Paul Coffman.

But, with the score 20-17 and a little more than eight minutes left, Dickey took the Packers 75 yards in 9 plays as Eddie Lee Ivery scored from the one. Two key plays in the drive were pass receptions by James Lofton, for 34 yards, and Phillip Epps, for 22 yards.

Lofton caught his 400th career reception on the touchdown drive, placing him third on the all-time Packers list behind Don Hutson and Boyd Dowler.

“When we needed a touchdown, he came through,” Gregg said of Dickey, who completed 15 of 26 passes for 188 yards.

Ivery’s touchdown gave the Packers a 23-20 lead. But Al Del Greco missed the extra point attempt, setting up Haji-Sheikh’s 47-yard attempt with 1:06 left.

“I don’t think they expected a tough game,” Gregg said.

Said Parcells: “We dug ourselves a hole I thought we were going to get out of, but we didn’t have enough energy. We didn’t play well enough to win. But there were times I didn’t think the Packers did either.”

A New York turnover led to Green Bay’s first score. Simms fumbled as he was being sacked and it was recovered by Ezra Johnson on the Giants’ 28-yard line. The Packers failed to move the ball and Del Greco hit a 40-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

The Packers widened the lead later in the quarter on a one-yard run by Jesse Clark after receiving a punt from the Giants, who had been backed up against their own goal line. Joe Prokop, who was with the Giants in preseason before joining the Packers, kicked two punts inside the New York 10-yard line in the half.

Both teams are 1-1.