TEMPE, Ariz., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Tiki Barber rushed for 118 yards, Kerry Collins threw a touchdown pass and the New York Giants defense played well from start to finish Sunday in a 17-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The Giants (5-4), who also received a rushing touchdown from Ron Dayne, won their second straight to remain a half game behind the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. The victories come on the heels of a three-game losing skid.
"There were a lot of things I was glad to see today," Giants coach Jim Fassel said. "We had 182 yards rushing, we did some things better. We focus every week on improvement. It's a race with the other teams to see who improves fastest."
New York, which has won seven of the last nine games in this series, led by a touchdown after Morten Anderson connected from 25 yards with 11:44 to play in the contest.
The Giants received a huge break on the ensuing kickoff when the ball bounced through the legs of MarTay Jenkins. By the time the young wideout was able to gain possession, he was swarmed by the New York coverage at the 10.
Despite totaling only 207 yards on the afteroon, the Cardinals then embarked on one of their best drives of the game. They converted a pair of third downs and were in New York territory with just under six minutes remaining.
But Jake Plummer threw an incompletion and, after Michael Pittman rumbled for seven yards to the 38, the drive stalled when Plummer's pass intended for Jenkins on fourth and four fell incomplete.
"Defensively we hung in there point-wise, but we weren't strong against the run," Arizona coach Dave McGinnis said. "They were able to run it whenever they wanted. Scoring 10 points, you are not going to win too many games doing that."
The Giants salted the game away over the next four minutes by pounding "Thunder and Lighting," the monikers given to Dayne and Barber, at the Arizona defense. The Cardinals (2-6) eventually took control on their own 13 with 18 seconds remaining and hope virtually gone.
Barber had his first 100-yard game since Week 1 of last season, also against Arizona.
"(Tiki's) running great right now, really finishing his runs," Collins said. "Guys get him wrapped up and he busts out and gets a few more yards. You don't expect that from a guy his size."
With only 36,917 in attendance, the Giants had to do very little to take the crowd out of the game. But they did that anyway by marching 44 yards on their opening possession and taking a 7-0 lead on Dayne's three-yard run 5:29 into the game.
The Giants had a chance to add to the lead late in the opening quarter, but Andersen could not connect from 38 yards, the first time he had missed against Arizona after 20 consecutive made field goals.
Meanwhile, Arizona did very little offensively, managing a total of nine plays the first three times it had the ball. And finally disaster struck when Jake Plummer was sacked by defensive end Michael Strahan and fumbled.
"I was trying to shuffle back and throw it out of the end zone," said Plummer. "Strahan hit it out of my hand. As a quarterback you've got to keep two hands on a ball. It's my job to protect the ball, especially in that situation."
"I just got back there and went to take him down," said Strahan. "I somehow punched the ball out. It was something that happened, not like I planned to do it."
Defensive end Kenny Holmes scooped up the loose ball and stumbled six yards before lateraling to linebacker Mike Barrow, who raced 13 yards to the Arizona 42. Moments later, Collins hit a streaking Ike Hilliard down the middle for a 14-0 New York advantage.
"I was trying to read the safeties," Collins said. "They bit on (tight end) Dan Campbell. Ike had a great route, got behind the safeties and I just tried to put it out there for him. He ran under it and did a great job.
The sack by Strahan was his league-leading 15th, surpassing his career high set in 1998. The 15 sacks also tie for the third-highest single-season total in Giants history.
Arizona did not go away and cut the deficit in half late in the first half when Jake Plummer hit David Boston for a 38-yard touchdown.
"No one can stop (Boston). He's our guy," said Plummer. "He's leading the league in receiving and has two touchdowns. That stinks."
Boston caught nine passes for 137 yards, his team-record fourth straight 100-yard receiving game.
"We just have to keep believing in what we are doing," Boston said. "We've got to establish the running game. In the past few games we've done a better job of that. We have the attitude that we are trying to score points."
Early in the third period, Bill Gramatica connected on a 32-yard field goal to bring the Cardinals within 14-10.
Collins completed 15 of 24 attempts for 155 yards and Dayne totaled 49 yards on 19 rushes for the Giants, who limited Arizona to just 12 first downs.
Plummer connected on half of his 26 passes for 172 yards.