Ron Dayne; Photo: Newsday/David L. Pokress

The Giants had to feel good about their 34-24 victory over Kansas City on Friday night. First and foremost the Giants won. Preseason football counts for very little and is not often pretty to watch, but this is a Giants team that lost its last 8 games to finish the 2003 season. For them, any kind of victory must feel pretty good.

Of course the big news was the professional debut of Eli Manning, the highly touted and highly compensated rookie quarterback out of Mississippi. Manning, who entered the game early in the second quarter after Kurt Warner started the game, completed 7 of 13 passes for 91 yards. More importantly, however, Manning led the Giants on three drives that resulted in points on the scoreboard. Late in the first half Manning took the Giants from their own 23-yard line to the Kansas City 24 in 64 seconds to set up a field goal that brought them to within a touchdown.

The other good news was the play of Ron Dayne, who carried the ball 11 times for 118 yards and touchdown runs of 29 and 67 yards. The Giants, who ran the ball unsuccessfully last season, certainly could use some of those numbers once the regular season begins. But remember that Dayne did not even dress for a game last season and has struggled since winning the Heisman Trophy at Wisconsin.

Another good sign was that the Giants did not turn the ball over once and were penalized 5 times for only 40 yards. These were both big problems for this team last season and this was certainly a step in the right direction.

Before Giants fans get too excited, however, they should also note that Trent Green and the Chiefs offense torched the Giants� rebuilding defense for 311 first-half yards and scored on all but one of their possessions. It�s not pretty to think about what would have happened if they had stayed in the game.

But this being preseason football, the game was decided by third-string quarterback Jesse Palmer, who�s thrown more woo in the Bachelor than he has touchdowns in the N.F.L. Palmer found David Tyree for the go ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Next up for the Giants are the defending N.F.C. champion Carolina Panthers on Thursday.

[Entry by Fred B. Fred works at one of New York's major newspapers doing layout, some page design, and the occasional freelance piece. Fred is a life long New Yorker and a Giants fan as well.]