LANDOVER, Md. - It would be a shame if the Giants team that played the way it did last night winds up being eliminated from playoff contention because of the Giants team that played the way it did the previous two months. But the fact remains that no matter how well the Giants play in their next two games - and last night's 45-12 rout of the Redskins was a good start - they need help to make it to the postseason.
That didn't make it any less refreshing to at least see them play like a playoff team. While the offense rolled over the Redskins for scores on its first four possessions, the defense pounded away at a Washington offense that came into the game as a resurgent unit. The Giants pummeled it back to dysfunction.
With eight wins, the Giants trail the Cowboys and the Packers by one game each for one of the two NFC wild cards. Even if the Giants win their next two games (at home against the Panthers on Sunday and at Minnesota in the regular-season finale), they'd need either of the teams just ahead of them to lose at least once to get into the tournament.
The Redskins (4-10) were the first team with a losing record that the Giants faced since the Raiders on Oct. 11. That also was the last game of the Giants' 5-0 start when they fattened up on inferiority and appeared to be a certainty to compete for a conference title. But the Giants lost six of the next eight games before returning to the loser buffet line and piling up stats on their plate.
The maligned Giants defense allowed only 78 yards in the first half, 46 on one long pass from backup quarterback Todd Collins to Santana Moss. And when the Redskins tried an oddball fake field goal at the end of the half, sending eight men out to the left while holder Hunter Smith chucked a desperation pass toward the end zone, Bruce Johnson intercepted it and nearly returned it for a touchdown. He was pushed out of bounds near midfield and the Giants had to settle for a 24-0 halftime lead.
The Giants scored touchdowns on their first two drives, each capped by a short Ahmad Bradshaw run against the NFL's best red-zone defense, totaling 143 yards on 27 plays and controlling the ball for 14:13 of the first 15:39. It was so bad that the Monday Night Football broadcast didn't have a chance to "introduce" the Giants' defense until the second quarter.
The first touchdown came on a 3-yard run by Bradshaw at the end of a methodical drive that converted four third downs (including the TD) and did not have a play longer than 14 yards. The second touchdown drive ended with a 4-yard Bradshaw run behind guard Kevin Boothe, who was filling in for Rich Seubert , who suffered a knee injury while clearing a path on the first scoring run.
The Giants had to settle for a field goal on their next drive but came back and found the end zone for a third time in the half on Eli Manning's 7-yard pass to Steve Smith. It came one play after a 45-yard catch-and-run by Hakeem Nicks.
While the Giants were pounding out yardage, they also were pounding quarterbacks. They sacked Jason Campbell five times, once by a blitzing Jonathan Goff, who came through the line so cleanly that he essentially beat Campell to the destination of his three-step drop. Osi Umenyiora flattened Campbell late in the second quarter and sent him to the sideline with a shoulder injury that brought Collins into the game.
Campbell returned for the start of the second half and led the Redskins on two touchdown drives in the third quarter, but the Redskins still lost ground on the scoreboard.
After Washington made it 24-6 (Barry Cofield blocked the extra point), the Giants responded with another scoring drive that ended with a 23-yard TD pass to Derek Hagan. On the next play, Terrell Thomas intercepted a blind screen pass by Campbell, who threw to his right after pumping left, and returned it 14 yards for a 38-6 lead.
Two plays after Brandon Jacobs squared off with Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall - and appeared to throw a series of punches, although Haynesworth was the only player flagged - the Giants put another pile-driver on the Redskins with a 25-yard pass to Mario Manningham to make it 45-12.Giants' Seubert shoulders load despite injury