EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - There was an unexpected mystery around New York Giants headquarters just days before this weekend's NFC East showdown with the Eagles (9-4).
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell missed his weekly news conference Thursday. The Giants (9-4), of course, told the media not to worry. Fewell would be available Friday.
That didn't stop the speculation. Was Fewell locked in a room drawing up some supersecret game plan to shut down Michael Vick and the Eagles on Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium?
No one wanted to say.
Players believe Fewell will have something for them. Last month in Philadelphia, the defensive guru had a simple plan. Either keep Vick in the pocket or force him to roll to his right if he breaks containment. The goal was to make the lefthander throw across his body when he was on the move. For the most part, it worked. Vick was limited to 258 yards passing and no touchdowns.
In a season filled with great Vick moments, that game really didn't have one. The Eagles, in fact, scored just one touchdown in five trips to the red zone. But - thanks to LeSean McCoy's 50-yard, fourth-down, fourth-quarter run with less than five minutes to play - the Eagles still managed to escape with a 27-17 win.
The difference between winning and losing might have been a fraction of an inch on McCoy's run. Vick bobbled the snap and Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora seemingly was a fingertip away from deflecting Vick's pitch.
"I was frustrated because I thought we should have won and we gave them the game," Umenyiora said Thursday. "Anytime you do that, I know how tough it is to win in this league and you don't want to give anyone the game, and that's what we did."
While many wonder what Fewell will come up with Sunday, players are expecting more of a tweak than a new game plan. Why change something that worked?
"We have to do more," cornerback Terrell Thomas said. "We lost that game. We had the lead in the fourth quarter and lost it. We lost the fourth quarter. Our team is built around our defense and we take responsibility. We obviously had a lot of turnovers [five] and misfortunes, but we have to win that game for our offense and our team."
The Giants blitzed Vick plenty in the first game, but defensive lineman Justin Tuck said not all of the blitzes were called.
"There were a lot of secondary blitzes, a lot of things that are keyed blitzes," Tuck said. "It wasn't necessarily called blitzes. It might have looked like they were blitzes and that might be one of the reasons we had more success. We'll tweak some things here and there and solve this problem of a five-game losing streak against the Eagles."