Giants 31, Redskins 7

Once again the Giants’ passing game sputtered ,but it was the running game and an opportunistic defense that made up for the aerial malaise in a 31-7 rout of the Redskins yesterday.

New York [8-4] forced six turnovers, including six forced fumbles and interceptions. Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb [26-of-44, 296 yards, touchdown] was sacked four times and never got into rhythm. It was an unfamiliar struggle for McNabb, who came into the game a winner in four straight games against Big Blue. But this wasn’t the talented Philadelphia Eagles roster that was backing McNabb, instead it was an overmatched Redskins team that was basically outclassed from start to finish.

The Giants defense was the story yesterday afternoon, as for the first time since Week 9 in Seattle, the defensive unit could’ve won the game alone. The offense – particularly the passing game – was inconsistent, as the 31 points were mostly courtesy of the Big Blue special teams winning the field position battle and then the defense cleaning up the rest. Rookie defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul registered two sacks, and bookend defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck also had a sack apiece. Tuck added two forced fumbles, while Umenyiora also forced a fumble.

Pierre-Paul, who also had two sacks last week, said he’s starting to ‘get it.’ The light bulb has seemingly come on for the late bloomer from the University of South Florida, who wasn’t much into football until late in his high school career. Pierre-Paul now has four sacks on the season after getting shut out in his previous 11 weeks.

“Knowing my assignments and playing my role,” said Pierre-Paul when asked about his torrid pace. “And I’m starting to really love playing this game.”

Umenyiora, who Pierre-Paul credited as one of the vets who has helped the most, said the game was important for not only playoff seeding but for defensive swagger as well.

“The DBs [defensive backs] were all allowing me time to get there and thankfully a lot of us got to him [Donovan McNabb] today,” Umenyiora said of the Big Blue pass rush. “It was a huge win for us, now being 2-2 in the division. And we get Minnesota next [perhaps without Brett Favre] and we need to keep it moving.”

The Giants kept the chains moving, mostly via the ground, as Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw took advantage of the injury-depleted Redskins defense. Besides the healthy scratch of former pro-bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, Washington [5-7] was without starting corner Carlos Rogers and starting safety LaRon Landry. Jacobs, who has thrived lately as the lead back again, kept the trend going as he had a game-high 103 yards and two touchdowns on only eight carries. Bradshaw also scored twice to go along with 97 yards on 25 carries. His efforts yesterday put him over the 1,000 yard plateau [1,013].

Once again the receiving corps was idle as the leading wideout was former Giant castoff Derek Hagan who registered team highs in catches [seven] and yards [65]. Eli Manning, who wasn’t sacked for the fifth-consecutive game, wasn’t a hindrance but also wasn’t the playmaker fans have been accustomed to seeing, as he went 15-of-25, 151 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception.

The leisurely passing stats will get the Giants by against also-rans like Washington but against playoff contenders like the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles – two teams they play in their final four games – could spell doom for Big Blue. No doubt Giant fans and Manning are wishing for speedy recoveries by Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks.

What went right ...

1 Ground and pound — Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for 140 first-half yards and the Giants pounded the Redskins 31-7 yesterday.

2 Swallowed up — The Giants created a season-high six turnovers and sacked familiar foe Donovan McNabb four times, defeating him for the first time in five games. It wasn’t all McNabb’s fault, though, as his receiving corps is about as lethal as a squirt gun. Still, Washington was shutout in the first half 21-0, running just four plays in Giants’ territory.

3 Out of hand — This was a competitive game until Terrell Thomas stripped Anthony Armstrong with 4:19 left in the first half. Bradshaw scored from 10 yards out on the ensuing drive.

Pierre-Paul punishes again

Just like in Week 9 at Seattle, the Giants’ defense could have won yesterday’s game by itself. Only this time, it was a new face leading the unit.

Rookie defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul continued his second-half tear, registering two early sacks. The light bulb has seemingly come on for the late bloomer from the University of South Florida.

“Coaches tell me, ‘Just go out there and make plays.’ That is what I was able to do,”?he said. “I’m starting to really love playing this game.”

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