Hot Topic, Replay & Player Notes

The Giants failed to lock up the NFC East championship Saturday when they were drubbed by the Washington Redskins, 35-20, but they nevertheless earned a spot in the playoffs -- a wild card spot, for the moment -- when the Baltimore Ravens beat the Minnesota Vikings.

The Giants could have clinched the NFC East division championship with a victory over Washington, but must now depend on a victory on the other side of the country -- in Oakland -- next Saturday night to clinch their first NFC East prize since 2000.

The Raiders, woebegone and sadly disappointing this season, nevertheless have the offensive weapons to spring a major surprise on the Giants, and nobody would enjoy it better than Oakland quarterback Kerry Collins, who left the Giants in anger after the Giants traded for Eli Manning on draft day 2004.

He saw the handwriting, of course, and was not in a mood to be charitable. "I ain't no baby sitter," he said at the time. He turned down an offer from general manager Ernie Accorsi for a three-year contract worth $7 million, with the second and third years voidable by either party -- and he would still get the full price.

So he left, demanding his release, and signed with Oakland for approximately $2 million less.

It has been disappointing for him in Oakland, and he was even benched for a game in favor of seldom-used Marques Tuiasosopo. The Oakland offense was thought to be a barn-burner this year, with the acquisition of wide receiver Randy Moss to go with Jerry Porter, and the signing of free agent running back LaMont Jordan from the Jets, a budding starter just itching to get clear of Curtis Martin.

It was not to be, and now the only thing the Giants want from Collins is a division championship, the prospect of which should make for a delightful cross country flight on New Year's Eve.


The Giants were never in the game against the Redskins, save a brief portion of the first quarter when rookie Chase Blackburn, starting at middle linebacker for the injured Antonio Pierce, intercepted a Mark Brunell pass and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown, giving the Giants a 10-7 lead.

After that, however, it was a case of sloppy offense and shoddy defense and a failure to stop Washington wide receiver Santana Moss (five catches, 160 yards, three touchdowns) and running back Clinton Portis (27 carries, 108 yards, one touchdown -- and one touchdown pass).

Giants running back Tiki Barber, who has carried the team during its stretch run, struggled to get 80 yards in 16 carries, and could not light a fire for the offense. Perhaps the most glaring weakness was quarterback Eli Manning. He struggled for the fifth consecutive game, and it became clear that the receivers were not in synch with their young leader.

Defensively, cornerbacks Curtis Deloatch and Will Allen were beaten unmercifully. Allen, a five-year veteran who has played reasonably well until the last two games, was embarrassed more than a few times by Moss. Incidentally, after 15 games Allen has yet to record an interception.


--Rookie LB Chase Blackburn was released from the hospital Sunday after leaving Saturday's game on a stretch following a collision that left him with a neck stinger. Coach Tom Coughlin said he would be surprised if Blackburn was available to play next Saturday. "The medical post trauma obviously is in the neck area. But, all the tests disproved any fact that there might be some type of fracture or anything like that," Coughlin said. "There was nothing of that nature. He is sore, his neck is sore, and we think he's going to have to recover from this obviously, but he's out of the hospital and he does not have any type of debilitating injury."

-- LB Jessie Armstead, who has not played in the league this season, worked out for the Giants last week. Coach Tom Coughlin did not rule out signing Armstead to bolster a beat up linebacking corps.

-- LB Carlos Emmons (strained pectoral muscle) did not play against Washington, and coach Tom Coughlin said he did not expect him to play against Oakland.

-- TE Jeremy Shockey appeared to be working the referee's for a penalty Saturday while Redskins LB Lemar Marshall was intercepting a pass intended for him. "We need to finish the play obviously and the result was an interception, which probably should not have been thrown in that area anyway," coach Tom Coughlin said. "But, you can't expect officials to -- they're not going to make that call anyway until probably the play is over."

Shockey, who labored with a sore/sprained ankle for most of the second half Saturday, caught just two passes and, for most of the game, was covered by Redskins SS Sean Taylor, a former teammate at the University of Miami. "He always does a good job," Shockey said. "We work out together in the off-season. He's tough but he doesn't usually stop me."

-- C Shaun O'Hara was particularly upset after Saturday's loss. "The last thing we wanted to do was fly to Oakland to win our division championship," he said. "We had many, many opportunities to win today. We just couldn't finish it."

-- The Giants' Game Inactive list included four starters -- MLB Antonio Pierce, SLB Carlos Emmons, ORT Kareem McKenzie and RDT William Joseph. Blackburn, Reggie Torbor, Bob Whitfield and Fred Robbins, respectively, filled in.

-- RB Tiki Barber, who had 80 yards in 16 carries, giving him 1,656 yards in 329 carries this season, tried to explain Saturday's loss. "We had plenty of chances," he said. "We just couldn't find the big play when we needed it." He needs just 12 carries vs. Oakland to tie the single-season team record (341, Joe Morris, 1986).

-- DE Osi Umenyiora, the NFC's sack leader in just his third season, was rewarded by the team with a six-year, $41 million contract extension.

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