Kevin Kolb #4 of the Arizona Cardinals looks to pass...

Kevin Kolb #4 of the Arizona Cardinals looks to pass as Osi Umenyiora #72 of the New York Giants attempts to knock the ball away. (Oct. 2, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Tom Coughlin said the Giants placed "a little bit of a governor" on Osi Umenyiora in his 2011 debut Sunday, meaning the defensive end would be limited to a predetermined number of plays.

Umenyiora said that left him "itching to get back in there a couple of times, but they held me out. It was probably for my own good."

No matter. He made the most of his first time back on the field after right knee surgery in August.

Midway through the first quarter, Umenyiora executed one of his trademark strip sacks, removing the ball from Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb's right hand after he had driven Arizona to the Giants' 17-yard line.

Umenyiora bookended that play with one that short-circuited the Cardinals' last-gasp drive after the Giants had taken a 31-27 lead in the fourth.

On second-and-1 from the Giants' 29, he stuffed Kolb for a 10-yard loss. Two plays later, Arizona lost the ball on downs with 51 seconds left.

"It was a screen," Kolb said. "I didn't have a lane and it was one of those bang-bang plays."

Bang-bang is right. Umenyiora leveled him.

"We had to close the game," he said. "The offense had done a good job scoring those two touchdowns and we had to finish."

Coughlin would not say how many plays Umenyiora was limited to, but the player said the figure was 30 to 35, and that he felt fine afterward.

"I'm from Africa, man. I don't ever get tired," he said. Still, he was unsure how his knee, and the rest of his body, would respond the morning after.

"Right now, I'm going to ice it down and hope for the best," he said.

Umenyiora's presence was particularly welcome because of the absence of his fellow star end, Justin Tuck, who had hoped to play but was a pregame scratch. He has neck and groin ailments, but neither he nor Coughlin would reveal which was the bigger problem.

"We kind of knew we needed a miracle to get on the field when I flew out here," Tuck said. "I know I said if I flew out here, I was going to play. But I just wanted to be out here with my teammates and show them a little leadership."

Said Coughlin: "You have a guy out of your rotation that very much should be a part of your rotation. It was ruled that he couldn't go, and he couldn't go. We went with the guys that were prepared to go."

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