Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Collins Learned from Early Errors Giants Quarterback Two Victories Away from Super Bowl

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Collins Learned from Early Errors Giants Quarterback Two Victories Away from Super Bowl

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kerry Collins had a flashback to 1996 as he watched quarterback Donovan McNabb lead the Philadelphia Eagles to the NFC semifinals.

It was Collins' second year in the NFL and he had a sense of invincibility leading the Carolina Panthers to the NFC championship game.

"I thought I could do no wrong," the New York Giants quarterback said yesterday. "I played with no fear, and I see that in him right now. You play with that kind of confidence, you can do a lot of things."

As Collins and the Giants (12-4) approach Sunday's NFC semifinal with McNabb and the Eagles, Collins no longer has that sense of invincibility.

Life experience has taught him to be more respectful.

Despite losing twice to New York in the regular season, the Eagles (12-5) are playing well enough to beat the Giants, Collins said.

Life experience also has taught the 28-year-old things can change quickly. The Packers beat the Panthers in the NFC championship in 1996, and Collins' career fell apart in two years as a drinking problem led to him being labeled a quitter and a racist and eventually being waived.

Collins has resurrected his career since signing with the Giants as free agent in 1999. He took over as the starting quarterback this season and led the team to the best record in the NFC by completing 311-of-529 passes for a career-best 3,610 yards. He also has thrown 22 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.

He has the Giants two wins away from the team's first Super Bowl appearance since the 1990 season.

"I've been knocked around a little bit the past few years so I don't have that sense of invincibility anymore," Collins said. "I think you go through some things and make mistakes. I think you play with a little more awareness of some of the things that can go wrong. I think that allows you to play smart and I am playing smarter. …

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