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Giants notebook: The heat is on in the East


Tom Coughlin gave his players the day off yesterday after their emotional 24-23 comeback win over the Broncos on Sunday. Once the players return to Giants Stadium tomorrow, though, there will be no time to rest.

The Giants, Eagles and Redskins are all tied for first place in the NFC East with 4-2 records. Behind them, the 4-3 Cowboys are lurking.

In such a tight race, Sunday's Giants Stadium matchup with Washington becomes that much more important.

"You're in the division again. This is only our second divisional game," Coughlin said yesterday. "Each game is very important. The game (on Sunday) was huge. All these games are very important. You mentioned it being such a tight race, and it makes it that much more exciting."

And challenging. The Redskins played well in road losses to Denver (21-19) and the Chiefs (28-21) before blowing out the 49ers 52-17 on Sunday.

Running back Clinton Portis had three touchdowns on Sunday and quarterback Mark Brunell, who played eight seasons for Coughlin in Jacksonville, is having his best season since he was with the Jaguars.

"You look at Mark and he's always had -- and I see it a little more of that this year -- the ability to make plays with his legs," Coughlin said.

LB Carlos Emmons underwent an MRI yesterday on his pectoral muscle, which he injured while missing a tackle on Broncos RB Tatum Bell early in the third quarter. He did not return to the game and Coughlin said yesterday the team was "concerned" about his injury.

The play looked similar to the one last year on which DE Michael Strahan tore his pectoral muscle.

WR Plaxico Burress injured his right shoulder on a 6-yard catch from Manning on the final drive.

"He came out and went back in and finished the game," Coughlin said. "But we're running all the tests on that. He's sore."

Coughlin was upset with the possible interceptions dropped by CB Curtis Deloatch, LB Antonio Pierce and S Gibril Wilson on Sunday.

"We did have our hands on -- you want to talk about some frustration -- three balls," Coughlin said. "If Curtis picks his off, there's nothing there but sideline and field and a direct route to the end zone."

LG David Diehl might have gotten away with a blatant hold on Burress' 23-yard reception -- the play before RB Tiki Barber's 4-yard touchdown run that cut the lead to six. Diehl had his left hand on DT Gerard Warren's shoulder while his right hand appeared to grasp the back of Warren's jersey.

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