Short on wide receivers and offensive linemen?
Opposing a quarterback who beat you the last four times out?
The Giants took care of all such concerns Sunday when they manhandled Donovan McNabb and the Washington Redskins 31-7 to remain in a first-place, NFC East tie with Philadelphia at 8-4.
This one was never in doubt. With wide receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks still missing from the receiving corps and the Redskins’ secondary blanketing Mario Manningham, Eli Manning stuck to safe passes and found Derek Hagan for a team-high seven completions.
The offensive line, with Will Beatty at left tackle for the inactive Shawn Andrews, blocked well against the Redskins’ defensive strength and opened major holes that allowed Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to tally two touchdowns each and produce 200 rushing yards. Bradshaw went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark with 97 on 25 carries.
The defense sacked McNabb four times and caused six turnovers, and the special teams contained dangerous return man Brandon Banks and blocked a fourth-quarter punt.
It was one of the most dominant performances of the season.
By the end of the first half, the 5-7 Redskins were done. The Giants’ only first-possession touchdown of the season, an 8-yard run by Jacobs, was followed by Bradshaw’s 4-yard touchdown run on the second possession.
By halftime, the Giants had built a 21-0 lead on Bradshaw’s second touchdown of the half. But offense wasn’t the whole story at a wind-swept New Meadowlands Stadium. The defense played a big half, especially first-round rookie Jason Pierre-Paul, who sacked former Eagles irritant McNabb twice. Pierre-Paul, now with four sacks in two games, had a monster peformance that also included a fumble recovery and a batted pass.
Veteran linebacker Keith Bulluck, relegated to more of a situational role, created a key turnover that led to Bradshaw’s second touchdown, just four plays after Manning cost his team points with an end zone interception thrown into triple-coverage on tight end Kevin Boss.
That was Manning’s 17th pick of the year, and the Giants’ 31st turnover. But aside from that, there wasn’t much negative to the performance.