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Defending champs Giant in opener

EAST RUTHERFORD, N. J. (AP) -- The New York Giants kicked off their Super Bowl title defence with what else -- defence.

Playing without Pro Bowl linemen Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, the defence limited the new-look Washington Redskins to 11 first downs and 209 total yards in a 16-7 victory that ushered in the NFL season last night.

These Giants could be back for another run. Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress and the rest of the offence that started the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots also came up big in spoiling the debut of Redskins coach Jim Zorn and his West Coast offence.

Manning capped a game-opening 84-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run and recently signed John Carney kicked three field goals as the Giants scored on their first four possessions to post a rare home win. They won their final 11 away from Giants Stadium en route capturing their third Super Bowl, but they were 3-5 at home, losing the last four games.

Co-ordinator Steve Spagnuolo and his defence made sure that streak came to an end, and in the process might have made Redskins owner Dan Synder think twice about trying harder to hire Spagnuolo. He was a serious candidate to replace Joe Gibbs until backing out to stay with the Giants.

Zorn eventually got the job.


Two blue-line prospects ink deals

(AP) -- Two of the top picks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft signed on the dotted line yesterday.

The Atlanta Thrashers signed first-round pick Zach Bogosian to an entry- level contract, while the St. Louis Blues signed defenceman Alex Pietrangelo, the fourth overall pick in the June draft.

Bogosian was selected third overall after scoring 11 goals and 61 points with Peterborough of the Ontario Hockey League.

The 18-year-old defenceman will take part in a prospect evaluation camp in Traverse City, Mich., before reporting for Atlanta's training camp on Sept. 20.

The 18-year-old Pietrangelo will get a chance to make the team when training camp begins Sept. 19.

"We are excited to have Alex signed as he will be a key component to our youth movement for years to come," team president John Davidson said. "This signing continues our commitment to the long-term future of exciting young talent that we have.

"We expect Alex to be an integral part of our organization for many years."

Pietrangelo, from King City, ranked seventh among OHL defencemen with 53 points last season for the Niagara IceDogs. He participated in the 2008 OHL All-Star Classic and the 2008 CHL Top Prospects game.


Hall of Famer Lunsford dead at 74

WINNIPEG (CP) -- Former Winnipeg general manager and Canadian Football Hall-of-Famer Earl Lunsford died at his home in Fort Worth, Texas, the Blue Bombers announced yesterday.

He was 74.

Lunsford, who ran the Bombers for 15 years (1968-82), leaves a lasting legacy on the franchise. Among other contributions, he oversaw their facility's expansion from 22,000 to 32,000 seats with upper deck additions.

"Earl was here when I first arrived in Winnipeg and he made a big impact on this city and the football club," Lyle Bauer, president and CEO of the Blue Bombers, said. "He contributed significantly to the Canadian Football League both as a player and as a general manager."

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