Giants-Cardinals Preview

BY foxsports • September 30, 2011

While Eli Manning returns to the scene of his greatest triumph, Antrel Rolle is back to face his former team.

Manning, Rolle and the New York Giants look for a third straight win Sunday when they visit an Arizona Cardinals team entering off back-to-back close losses.

The University of Phoenix Stadium will always be remembered by New York (2-1) as the site of its Super Bowl XLII victory. Manning won MVP honors for throwing two fourth-quarter touchdown passes in a 17-14 win over 18-0 New England.

This time, though, Plaxico Burress won't be around to catch the game-winning TD and David Tyree won't be there to trap one of Manning's desperation heaves against his helmet.

Then again, Burress played only the first series before injuring his hamstring and Tyree didn't play for the Giants when the team visited Arizona the following season, and Manning had another terrific game. He completed 78.8 percent of his passes to mark a career high with at least 15 attempts, finishing 26 of 33 with three TDs in a 37-29 victory over the Cardinals (1-2).

The veteran quarterback admits it's a special place to him.

"I think it is, but once you get there it's going to be, 'Focus on the game at hand and get ready for the Cardinals,'" he said. "Try to understand their scheme and see what their game plan is going to be and go out there and just play our game."

Rolle also has pleasant memories of Arizona, having spent his first five seasons there after being drafted eighth overall in 2005. The safety made his first Pro Bowl with Arizona in 2009 after helping the franchise reach its first Super Bowl the previous season, but he left for New York via free agency last year.

"This is the first time for me because I have never had to face a team that I was once with but I am going in there and playing the game at the end of the day," Rolle said. "I am going to go and be the same player that I am week in and week out."

Rolle will be counted upon to help slow down Larry Fitzgerald and a Cardinals offense that struggled in last Sunday's 13-10 loss at Seattle. Fitzgerald had five catches and his second touchdown of the season, but new quarterback Kevin Kolb threw two interceptions - one coming with Arizona driving in the final minutes.

"You have to understand he's in a completely different scheme than what he's used to running," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "He's been in this scheme for a very short time and we're asking him to do things he's never done before."

The Cardinals managed a season-low 90 yards rushing as Beanie Wells sat out with a hamstring injury. Wells had 183 yards through the first two games and said he is "100 percent" certain he will play Sunday.

"It was one of those things where we were being extra cautious with it," Wells said. "You know how those things are, they can linger three, four, five weeks and we didn't want that at all."

LaRod Stephens-Howling, who excels on special teams for Arizona, will likely be back after missing two games with a hand injury. Arizona lost 22-21 at Washington before falling in Seattle.

The Giants also could be healthier, with receiver Mario Manningham returning to practice Wednesday after he missed last Sunday's 29-16 win at Philadelphia due to a concussion.

Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora could make his season debut, having practiced Wednesday for the first time since he had arthroscopic knee surgery in early August.

The Giants have not missed Umenyiora too much since emerging defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has 4 1/2 sacks to tie for the league's second-best total.

Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck will likely play despite a strained groin and neck stinger.

Without Manningham, New York got a boost last Sunday when Victor Cruz had two touchdown receptions among his three catches for 110 yards.

The Giants lead the league in red-zone touchdown efficiency with TDs on five of six drives. The Cardinals have been excellent defensively in the red zone, ranking sixth by allowing four TDs in their opponents' 11 trips.

"There is no doubt that they have been very good at it but we have been pretty good when we have been in there, too," said Manning, who matched a career high with four TDs last week.

Manning has been sacked 10 times after being dropped 16 times all of 2010. Arizona's nine sacks are tied for seventh-best in the league.

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