Giants win OT thriller

LANDOVER, Md. – When Jim Fassel addressed his club before the start of overtime in Washington, he told everyone that the offense was going to take the ball, score and end the contest. Fassel was correct.

Kicker Matt Bryant, who earlier blew a 37-yard FG that likely would have kept New York out of OT, calmly drilled a 29-yarder 4:15 into the extra session. Bryant's boot capped a beautiful 83-yard drive and sent a FedEx Field crowd of 84,856 fans home disappointed.

"I thought my team showed a lot of guts" Jim Fassel said. "We got the ball in overtime and I told our offense we're going after it."

"This was big for us to get that win," Bryant said.

Especially after frittering away an 18-point second-half cushion.

Kerry Collins, who fired three first-half TD passes, led the Giants on their game-winning march, less than one week after the club fell in overtime to Dallas.

"That was very impressive," Cornelius Griffin said. "For them to get it on the (6-yard line) and drive it all the way down to get the field goal was great. They moved the ball quickly. It was huge. I don't even want to imagine losing this one."

"The defense stopped them about the whole half, but we didn't do it in overtime so we got beat," Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said. For as good as New York looked in the opening half, jumping out to a 21-3 halftime cushion, the defense gave it all back in the final two periods.

"These last two games took me on the biggest roller coaster ride I've ever been on," Brian Mitchell said. "You know you're going to have your ups and downs, but you don't expect there to be that many in just two games."

Redskins QB Patrick Ramsey led the late charge with a 4-yard TD pass to Darnerien McCants, a 6-yard score to Rod Gardner (and two-point conversion pass to McCants) and by orchestrating the 57-yard drive that set up John Hall's game-tying 33-yard FG with 13 seconds to play. "He is very poised," Michael Strahan said. "Last year he made some mistakes. Now he doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He's a tough quarterback to play against."

As a team, the Giants couldn't really pinpoint why they allowed Washington back in the game, but it appeared that the defense stopped getting pressure on Ramsey and continued to allow crossing routes to hurt them. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't from a lack of effort. When it was 21-3 [at halftime] we said we have to play like the score was 0-0," Micheal Barrow said.

That's because they knew the Redskins wouldn't. Washington had erased a 17-point deficit in its previous game, while beating the Falcons in Atlanta.

New York dodged a couple bullets early, and managed to escape Washington's first two drives behind only 3-0. The Redskins' first possession was marred by an unsportsmanlike taunting penalty on McCants, who threw the ball at Johnnie Harris after a 21-yard third-down grab, moving the club out of field goal range. On the Skins' next drive, a 30-yard TD pass to Gardner was negated by a holding penalty on Chris Samuels, and Washington was forced to settle for a 42-yard Hall FG.

The Giants offense responded, crisply moving 74 yards in 11 plays, and scoring when Hilliard caught a 5-yard TD pass in front of Redskins LB Jeremiah Trotter. Key plays on the march included a 19-yard grab by Hilliard and Jeremy Shockey's 16-yard catch that moved New York to the Washington 7-yard line.

"We caught them in a Cover 4," Hilliard said. "I had an isolation on the linebacker. I was on the same page as Kerry and just made the play." The Giants weren't finished. In the second quarter, Shockey turned in a highlight-film one-handed grab in front of Redskins LB LaVar Arrington for a 22-yard gain. Two plays later Collins fired long to Toomer, who gathered in the pass at the 10, outleaping Redskins CB Champ Bailey, and waltzed in for a 14-3 lead. "It was just a double-move," Toomer explained. "I got Bailey on my back. He was thinking that I was going to do something that I didn't do."

Bailey was the victim on New York's next TD as well. Hilliard caught Collins' pass at the 4-yard line, stopped, planted and easily scored past a flat-footed Bailey for a 21-3 halftime lead. The Giants' drive was kept alive when Trotter was called for a 15-yard personal foul infraction, allowing Big Blue to move the sticks on a third-and-24 play.

"We caught them in Cover 4 again," Hilliard said. "It was a quick sprint and Champ played off me. I caught the ball, put my foot in the ground and got the ball across the line." For the Giants, they escaped disaster one game after they were unable to. At 2-1, they now share the division lead with Washington, as opposed to falling two games behind the Skins. "Being 0-2 in the division would not be good," Hilliard stated. "We're fortunate not to be in that position."

"We won it and now we can smile all the way back to New Jersey," Strahan said.

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