Hot Topic and Player Notes: Giants

The New York Giants couldn't have a better portion of their schedule to exploit than they have in the next two weeks. After their shocking 36-0 trashing of the Washington Redskins, they take their 5-2 record to the west coast to play San Francisco, one of the NFL's more dreary teams, and then return home the week after to play host to hapless Minnesota.

The game against the 49ers should be taxing only because of the travel fatigue. The way the Giants dealt with the Redskins, who were 4-2 and tied for first in the NFC East, spoke volumes about their potential. The fact that the Redskins scored 52 points against the 49ers the previous week might point out more of a one-sided advantage owned by the Giants at this point.

After the San Francisco and Minnesota games, the Giants, who should be 7-2 at that juncture, have a home game against Philadelphia, travel to Seattle, play host to Dallas and then go to Philadelphia.

Building that record in the face of that toughest part of their schedule becomes more critical.

Coach Tom Coughlin said his team did an excellent job of keeping its emotions in check following the death and funeral of team president Wellington Mara during the week.

"Everyone seemed to be focused," Coughlin said. "There were some great comments made by the players throughout the evening in their meetings. We knew this would be one of those NFC East divisional games with the Redskins coming in here and playing as well as they can. We expected it to be a four-quarter game like all of these games have been.


Sunday's 36-0 victory over Washington represented the first time in the history of the Giants franchise that Wellington Mara was not in attendance, or at least watching from somewhere. The 89-yard old patriarch of the NFL and the team died last Tuesday, and this one was, as defensive end Michael Strahan put it, "for Mister Mara."

The team voted the game ball to his oldest son, John K. Mara, who will assume the role of team president. He has been serving as executive vice president and COO.

It was never a contest, with the key play of the game coming when the Redskins called "heads" and the coin toss came up "tails." It was downhill from there for Washington, when the first snap from scrimmage resulted in a handoff from quarterback Eli Manning to running back Tiki Barber, who took it down the left sideline for 57 yards to the Redskins' 16.

That led to a field goal, and Barber would go on to hit a career single-game best with 206 yards in 24 carries. It was 19-0 at halftime and finished at 36-0. Kicker Jay Feely hit five field goals but missed a sixth, his first miss of the season. He now has 16 of 17 on the season and, with 23 PATs, a total of 71 points with more than half the season remaining.

Barber ran his rushing total to 689 yards on 131 carries and now has five touchdowns. It was a down day for Manning, who completed only 12 of 31 passes for 146 yards with one touchdown and one pick.

So dominant was the Giants' defense that the Redskins were limited to 38 rushing yards on 13 carries and 125 total net yards. The Giants had 386 total net yards, including 262 rushing, and they controlled the ball for 39 minutes, 21 seconds, virtually two-thirds of the game.


-- WR Plaxico Burress had four receptions for 42 yards, bringing his season total to 577 yards on 40 catches and five touchdowns. "We just played hard and when that happened we were able to control the game," he said.

-- MLB Antonio Pierce, who had 11 tackles, two passes defensed and an interception, was the Redskins' starter last season and said it felt good to win. "I have a lot of friends on the team, but this was about winning for this organization and the memory of Mr. Mara. I am very friendly with (Redskins running back) Clinton (Portis) and during the game he just said: 'You guys are winning out.' Yeah, we were."

-- QB Eli Manning gave the bulk of the credit to RB Tiki Barber. "He comes to play and today he seemed to be all fired up," he said. "The team did a great job of staying focused and I think what we went through this week helped us. Knowing Mr. Mara inspired us to try to become better men.

-- TE Jeremy Shockey, who was especially close to Wellington Mara was somber after the game. "I wanted to do extremely well today," he said, "but I just couldn't do it. I wanted five or six touchdowns for him but the one I did get felt great."

-- RG Chris Snee had several key blocks to spring RB Tiki Barber, and after the game said: "Nothing makes an offensive lineman feel better than for the running game to work. It's great fun blocking for the run. It's what we would all prefer."

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