SEATTLE - The Giants made a team that is used to relying on its 12th man look as if it were playing with only 10.
In one of the more convincing wins in franchise history and their third-most-lopsided road win ever, the Giants silenced the oft-deafening crowd at Qwest Field Sunday with a trouncing of the understaffed Seahawks. The last time they won a game like this on the road was in 1993, when they beat the Redskins in a different Washington by the identical score of 41-7.
The one drawback for the Giants? That it wasn't a complete blanking. "Oh, man, it burns," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said of coming within one play of a shutout. "It definitely stings a little bit."
As they sometimes say in these sorts of fights, though, you should see the other guy.
The Giants were prepared for a hostile environment but started out by giving the crowd every reason to scream. On their fifth offensive play, Kevin Boss caught a pass but fumbled it away, with the Seahawks recovering at their own 29. That was just the kind of thing the Giants were hoping to avoid early. But the defense recorded a three-and-out (actually pushing Seattle back four yards on the brief drive) and from there began the monotony of scoring drives.
The Giants wouldn't have another drive end without a touchdown for the rest of the half (excluding the take-a-knee for the final play). They led 35-0, their largest halftime lead since 1959.
The scoring onslaught began with a 2-yard touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw followed by a 46-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks. Manning floated the ball out for Nicks down the middle of the field without fear because he knew the Seahawks were playing with no help deep because of the Giants' single-receiver look.
"We had Boss on a little crossing route," Manning said of the three-tight-end formation. "Their rookie safety [Earl Thomas] is a good payer, but like a lot of good safeties who get a lot of interceptions, they're going to get a little nosy and start cheating on that crossing route to Boss. He didn't take it away, but he sat enough. He had his feet settled and I took a shot and threw it over him."
Leon Washington fumbled the ensuing kickoff, with the ball shooting straight into the air and recovered by Jonathan Goff, who nearly scored. He was pushed out at the 4, though, and Bradshaw took it in for his second score and a 21-0 lead with 2:03 left in the first quarter.
On a pass that Seattle receiver Mike Williams should have caught but tipped into the end zone, Terrell Thomas picked it off and returned it 28 yards to the Giants' 27. That set the stage for another touchdown pass, this one a 6-yarder to Steve Smith, who caught the ball going parallel to the goal line before slicing through to the end zone.
By that time the crowd was sufficiently deflated and Smith took it upon himself to claim the Seahawks' flag. He ran to the back of the end zone and posed for a picture next to a big banner with the number 12 on it. Smith wears the number 12 as well.
The Seahawks might have been quieted, but they weren't about to tolerate that. "Some dude poured beer on me," Smith said. "I think that was a Miller Lite. I tasted it a little bit."
Boss found redemption for the earlier fumble with a 5-yard touchdown catch in the final minute of the first half to make it 35-0, and the Giants added two third-quarter field goals by Lawrence Tynes to make it 41-0.
Seattle, which managed only 162 total yards, scored its only points when Charlie Whitehurst hit Ben Obomanu on a 36-yard pass one play after a 26-yard run by Marshawn Lynch. But after that the Giants embarked on a 13-minute drive that got as far as the Seattle 6. They had 19 plays - all of them rushes - and were stopped only because they took a knee three times after the two-minute warning.
The Giants (6-2) have won five straight games and are tied with the Falcons for the best record in the NFC. After a dominating performance like this one, it's fair to start looking ahead and wondering just how far the Giants can go.
Justin Tuck said he doesn't think they are the best team in the conference because that's not decided until January. And Cofield did some boasting, but with a caveat. "If we play our best football, at those times I think we are the best," he said.
The Giants might have played their best game Sunday, but they feel as if they can keep getting better.
"I feel like we gain momentum each and every week," safety Antrel Rolle said. "We're not going to stop until we get what we want."