Afterward, the kicker was gone, the holder bummed, the opposition relieved.

David Akers barely missed a desperate, 57-yard field goal try in 35-degree weather. With 1 second to play yesterday, the kick hit the right upright, about 10 feet up, and deflected left, preserving the Giants' 16-13 win over the Eagles.

"I thought that Akers had no shot whatsoever," said Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. "The guy has the leg. We're going to give it to him.

"And, you know, that ball didn't hit the bottom of the upright. It hit high up there."

Akers knelt on the field after the miss, disbelieving. He left the locker room without speaking to reporters. In Akers' absence, punter Sav Rocca, the holder, recounted the play.

"I thought it was a good kick," Rocca said. "It looked like a good kick. It felt like a good kick. It sounded like a good kick. Until that last second."

Akers hit from 29 and 39 yards and moved to 19-for-19 inside the 40. However, he now is 2-for-9 from 40 yards and beyond.

Moving to 3-for-9 would have forced overtime and certainly would have swayed the momentum in the Eagles' favor. Instead, they fell to 5-8 and the Giants moved to 9-4.

Said Jacobs, who lost two fumbles: "I guess we're the worst 9-4 team in the league."

Yesterday, from Akers' vantage point, they surely were the luckiest. *