That was the way things were supposed to be.

Eli Manning faked a handoff to draw the linebacker up, Brandon Myers found the resulting soft spot in the coverage in the middle of the field, and the quarterback threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to his tight end.


Except it hasn't been. The play that tied the score at 14 in the final minute of the first half against the Redskins on Sunday night was only the third scoring pass the two have connected on this season. Myers, who signed with the Giants as a free agent after catching 79 passes in Oakland last year, has caught only 35 this season.

In each of the last two games, though, he's scored a touchdown.

"We're just connecting," Myers said Thursdayafter a practice that he missed because of a sore groin.

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That's something that wasn't always happening earlier in the season. Myers caught seven passes, one for a touchdown, in his first game as a Giant, but things then started to deteriorate. In Week 2 he caught a wide-open pass and tripped to prevent what would have been a touchdown against the Broncos. In Week 6, with the Giants driving toward a potential winning TD, a pass went through Myers' hands and was intercepted by the Bears.

"When my number is called, you obviously try to make the play," Myers said. "There were some unfortunate things that went on early in the season that you can't really control now. You just move on and make plays."

It's hard to move on, though, if your opportunities dry up. For a while, it seemed as if Myers had disappeared. He had 13 catches in the first two games, but it took eight more games for him to catch another 13.

Did Manning, who has relied on tight ends as safety blankets for most of his career, lose faith in Myers?

"I don't know," Myers said. "Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not sure. It's more that they ask the tight ends to block and pass protect and things like that, so it's not like he wasn't going to look my way."

Whatever the reason, Myers has returned to being an important piece in the offense. He caught three passes, one for a TD, two weeks ago against the Cowboys and had five catches -- his most since Week 2 -- against the Redskins. Despite the groin injury, he said he expects to practice Friday and play Sunday against the Chargers.

That means he'll be there to see San Diego's Antonio Gates in action. Myers, who played against the Chargers twice a year for four years, said Gates' connection with his quarterback is what all tight ends seek.

"He's kind of built that rapport with [Philip] Rivers. He can go to him when he needs a first down or something like that," Myers said. "They worked together a lot of years and they've been in the same offense for a lot of years."

Not so Manning and Myers, who only now seem to be building that chemistry.

"A lot of things go into it," Myers said of getting more comfortable in the offense. "It's not just as easy as pitch and catch . . . Certain things happen, and the last few weeks, we've connected and made a few first downs and a few touchdowns. You kind of hope to build off of that, keep going one game at a time and build on it."