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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Giants need to go to ground-and-pound

Giants running back Brandon Jacobs during New York's

Giants running back Brandon Jacobs during New York's win over Seattle. (Nov. 7, 2010) Credit: MCT

From the where-have-we-seen-this-before- with-the-Giants department:

It's the final week of the season, the Giants will face the Redskins on the road, and Tom Coughlin's job is in danger.

The Giants and Coughlin faced an almost identical situation in the 2006 finale. With Coughlin's job status in question then - just as it is heading into Sunday's game - the Giants beat Washington, 34-28, behind Tiki Barber's franchise-record 234 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The Giants made the playoffs, Coughlin saved his job, Barber retired - and Coughlin and the Giants won the Super Bowl the next season.

A repeat performance on Sunday on the road against the Redskins? Ahmad Bradshaw sure hopes so.

The running back's eyes opened wide when he was told about Barber's outing that night four years ago. With the Giants' season and Coughlin's job on the line, he looked ahead to Sunday with even more anticipation.

In fact, as Bradshaw stood outside the locker room talking about the game, Coughlin walked by. "Did you ask him if he bothered to take a shower today?" the coach cracked.

Bradshaw - who often is quick to leave the locker room once the workday is over - smiled. "I already took a shower," he said as Coughlin went into his office.

The moment of levity was in stark contrast with the bitter feelings between Barber and Coughlin heading into the '06 finale. Barber had sniped at Coughlin throughout the season but wound up saving the coach's job with his transcendent performance.

Bradshaw can only hope to duplicate the accomplishment - minus the ill will, of course.

"We'd love to make that happen," he said. "You have to take it and run with it. We hope we can get the job done and get into the playoffs."

It will take a win over the Redskins and a win by the Bears over the Packers to get the Giants into the playoffs. They had a chance to take over the NFC East lead by beating the Eagles two weeks ago, but after taking a 21-point lead with 8:17 left, they allowed 28 points in the final 7:28 in a 38-31 loss. They could have clinched a playoff berth last week but were humiliated in Green Bay, 45-17.

Best way to have a chance at a playoff spot this week: Give the ball to Bradshaw and give it to Brandon Jacobs. Over and over and over again.

With the Giants' receiving corps hobbled by injuries to Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks and with Washington's run defense a major liability, there's no reason the Giants can't impose their will on their NFC East rivals and at least give themselves a chance to think about a playoff berth.

When the Giants faced the Redskins at home Dec. 5, they crushed them on the ground, with Jacobs running eight times for 103 yards and two touchdowns and Bradshaw rushing 25 times for 97 yards and two TDs.

"We have a big opportunity here," Jacobs said. "We have a lot of character in this room, and we got guys who can fight from behind. It's just that lately we haven't been playing great. We have been turning the ball over, and you can't win games in this business that way . . . We've done everything that we could to give these games away to our opponent, and that's why we're in this position right now."

After the fourth-quarter meltdown against Philadelphia, the Giants committed six turnovers against the Packers. Time for them to get back to their roots. And that means dominating the line of scrimmage and imposing their will in the running game.

"The best defense on the road is your offense, taking care of the line of scrimmage, controlling the time of possession and keeping momentum on your side," left tackle David Diehl said. "This is one of those games that's going to be a fistfight."

As it should be with such long-standing rivals, even if the 6-9 Redskins are just playing for pride. The Giants ultimately might be playing for pride, too, if the Packers beat the Bears in a game that will take place at the same time. But if they want to recapture some measure of self-respect after two humbling losses, there's no better way to do it than to re-establish their prominence on the ground.

With Eli Manning coming off a four-interception performance and the receiving corps in disarray, there's a very simple solution: Time to go smash-mouth.

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