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Game Blog Giants at Redskins

Dec 24, 2005, 10:37 PM EST

First Quarter
If the first series is any indication, the Giants will be throwing on early downs to give Eli Manning some time to throw. It almost worked, but Plaxico Burress dropped his first-down bomb.

Somebody on the Redskins must have tipped the referees off about defensive holding on their running plays. Dallas got called for it twice last week and now there is another one in the early going today against the Giants. I don’t recall it being called up until then.

Clinton Portis is going to pop one today. He’s come close a couple of times already on the first offensive series. All he needs to do is make one guy miss and he’ll be off to the races.

Slick and slippery. That’s what Santana Moss was on that little bubble screen that he took to the house. Derrick Dockery did a good job of getting downfield out in front of Moss and the defensive back had absolutely zero chance of getting around him to try to make the tackle.

As one person up here noted, a 7:08 drive with a lot of running is just what you want in Christmas Eve. It would be great to be down in the victorious locker room by 4 PM.

New York does seem to have the Washington defense a bit off balance as they are throwing on first and 10 and running on second and long. The strategy is keeping Manning in the pocket with time to throw and giving Tiki Barber some running room. When they had to pass on third and four, the ball got batted in the air by Phillip Daniels. Still, the drive netted the Giants a field goal.

That was the worst pass Brunell has thrown all year, by far. Perhaps he was out of synch with Thrash, the intended receiver, but it looked like he just didn’t see Chase Blackburn, who got one of the easiest touchdowns a defender will ever get.

It’s not hard to see why Antonio Brown isn’t getting any time at receiver despite his speed. He has no moves at all. If he stops going straight ahead or does any more than a full-speed veer, he’s dead.
I was going to type that the Redskins are setting up a play-action bomb by running on every first down, but I didn’t. I could go back in the chronicle here and do so, but it wouldn’t be right. Good adjustment by Moss on Brunell’s underthrown ball. He’s showing that he’s the complete package as a receiver, not just a speed demon.
 
Second Quarter
Portis was very, very close to breaking it on his first carry of the second quarter. He was just off balance enough when a Giant defender brushed him to get knocked out off bounds. It’s coming, I tell you.
Ade Jimoh is an animal on special teams. As the gunner, he had a Giants trying to both hold and clip him, but Jimoh wouldn’t have any of it. He got to Chad Morton as soon as he caught the punt and made a textbook open field tackle.

It is indeed the season for giving. Manning returned Brunell’s gift-wrapped interception favor with one to Lamar Marshall that should have had a bow on it. Jeremy Shockey has no idea where the ball was, apparently not believing that Eli had thrown it right between the “9” and the “8” on Marshall’s jersey. Happy Holidays, indeed!

The Giants don’t know what hit them on Portis’ TD toss to Cooley. That’s the best spot on the field to try that one from; when they ran it in St. Louis it was near midfield and you don’t expect a running back to have the skills to complete that one. This was just an easy toss to a wide-open Cooley. That’s going to set the New York defenders back on their heels a bit on the toss sweep from here on out.

It’s unusual to see the Redskins playing as soft as they are on this two-minute drive by the Giants. They’re in field goal range thanks to a questionable personal foul call on Ryan Clark and the rush really hasn’t come close to Manning and the coverage has still been rather soft.

New York gets a lucky break to get back into it. Burress should be ashamed of himself for being able to do nothing more than bat Manning’s pass into the air and Toomer should be commended for great concentration in making the catch in the end zone. It doesn’t look like there’s enough to overturn, although it’s very close.

Still, you have to like a 21-17 lead at the half. The Giants still don’t have an answer for the Redskins’ offense.

Third Quarter

That was not the series that the Redskins needed to respond to the Giants’ score near halftime. An OK run, a dropped pass, and a sack, that’s not the way to grab the momentum back. The Giants not only get the ball back, they have decent field position at their own 34.

Clutch special teams play by the Redskins with the blocked chip-shot field goal attempt. For the Giants to score on that drive would have put momentum back on the Giants’ side.

Patrick Ramsey came into the game the last time the Redskins played the Giants, too. The circumstances were quite different as New York had the game well in hand at that point. We’ll see how much Ramsey has learned in his 14 games on the bench.

Clinton Portis—or, more accurately, the offensive line—needs to step it up if the Redskins are going to stay in control. A solid running game is any quarterback’s best friend, especially a rusty one.
It really is too bad that Santana Moss is just a speedster who really isn’t much of a receiver. After bailing out Brunell on an underthrow earlier, he made a great adjustment on Ramsey’s pass and took it to the house again.

A very smooth, cool Manning going to Shockey to convert a third and nine. There were Redskins jumping all around and he calmly found  lane to throw to for a big first down.

This already has been a higher-scoring game than many thought at 28-20 and it’s not even the end of the third quarter yet. Manning is hanging tough.
 
Fourth Quarter
 
I told you that Portis was going to break one. Although 19 yards isn’t exactly coast to coast, he could have gone for 80. Besides, as it gives them a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, it may have been the most important 19 yards of the season for Portis and the Redskins.
 
I doubt that the Giants will be abandoning the run at this point. They have little hope of Manning drops back on every play. They need two touchdowns and Barber is their best offensive weapon and their best chance of getting the scores.
 
That may have been a little early to go for it on fourth down, especially with six yards to go and over ten minutes to play. A field goal would avoid the necessity for a two-point conversion.
 
After getting played to a standoff for most of three quarters, the Washington offensive line is now beginning to dominate the players in front of them. They’re blowing them back off the line and Betts and Portis are running hard into the holes.
 
One holding call and one possible PI that wasn’t called may have wrapped this one up for the Redskins. The hold brought back a New York TD and the non-call let stand a fourth-down incompletion. I certainly don’t want to imply that interference should have been called on Shawn Springs, just that I’ve seen it called on similar plays.
 
Who is the best team in the NFC now? You could make a case that the Redskins are playing better than anyone now and they have improved more than anyone over the past month. They hung 35 on the Giants, a team that shut them out less than two months ago. That’s all you need for a yardstick to tell how well this group is playing right now.
 
Hail to the Redskins.

Postscript

It’s quite a challenge to get a Redskin to actually acknowledge that he accomplished something out on the field. In the interview room I tried to get Santana Moss to say something about being a big-time player making big plays in a big time game. He talked about hard work and credited Clinton Portis for making the safeties cheat to help with the run. Renaldo Wynn’s block wasn’t a great individual effort, according to Wynn, it was a great scheme that Danny Smith called at the right time.

Clinton Portis did boast—about his passing ability. His success on the ground was due to Moss keeping the defense back on its heels, the offensive line, and great play calling.

As long as that attitude prevails, nobody is going to want to play this team in the playoffs should they get there.

  1. Anonymous - Dec 26, 2005 at 12:02 AM

    If the Ravens hold on to win, it make the skins winning the division more probable.

    With a vikings loss, and the giants clinching a playoff spot, it’s very easy to imagine them coming out flat against the raiders, enabling the skins to win the division.

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