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Original Issue

Highs and Lows

Hard lessons for Giants end Mathias Kiwanuka

THE PAST WEEKS HAVE BEEN FILLED WITH NFL "FIRSTS" FOR ME, good and bad. I got my first start, against Tampa Bay--and against rookie tackle Jeremy Trueblood. He and I went to Cathedral High School together in Indianapolis, and he was my teammate at BC. We were roommates freshman year, and we still talk all the time. During timeouts I'd tell him, "I'm coming to your side, watch out!"

IN THE TAMPA GAME I GOT MY FIRST SACK. That was a relief because it had been so long in the making, and I received my first game ball from Coach Coughlin. It's sitting on my mantel. Then against the Bears came my first interception. I whipped my head around just in time to see the pass tumbling toward me. I tucked it in and ran for the end zone, but the refs ruled that one of their lineman knocked me out-of-bounds at the one-yard line. Honestly, I watched the play a hundred times, and I thought I made it.

NOW FOR THE LESS POSITIVE FIRSTS. I got my first NFL fine [$7,500] for a hit on David Carr, Houston's QB. I hit him as he threw, and they said I drove him into the ground. I don't know how you're supposed to know if he has the ball or not when you've got your head down. That play led to the mistake I made two weeks ago in Tennessee when I let Vince Young go on fourth down. The last image I had before my head went down was him starting his throwing motion. It was exactly how it looked before I hit Carr. You have milliseconds to decide what to do, and I was thinking if I drove him to the ground and he had thrown the ball, it would be a 15-yard penalty. It's almost like you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. In the future I'd rather err on the side of making the play.

COACH COUGHLIN SAID SOME EMOTIONAL THINGS TO ME on the field during the Titans game. I honestly have no idea what he said; I was so dumbfounded myself. But everyone understood what I was thinking after I explained it. We're ready to move on. With Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan returning from injuries [Umenyiora is back; Strahan could play Sunday at Carolina], I don't know how much longer I'll start, but in practice I play like I'll be the starter. I have to be ready for everything.