Redskins lose big at the Meadowlands

His teammates left in a hurry, anxious to do anything but talk about this game. Meanwhile, Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington sat on a table in the trainer's room, tending to nicks and bruises on his legs and having some fingers wrapped.

He sat and stared straight ahead, saying nothing.

And when he emerged, a yellow towel around his waist, he wasn't in a talkative mood.

''I have nothing to say,'' Arrington said. ''I hate losing. We lost. That's my interview.''

The Redskins season might be over, too, after a 19-17 loss to New York on a dreary day at the Meadowlands.

The mood in the locker room matched the weather. Running back Stephen Davis was openly frustrated about the play calling, stopping short of being too critical. But was clearly irked that once more Washington threw much more than it ran. For the second straight game, other players privately grumbled about Steve Spurrier's play calling.

And they left knowing their playoff chances are dying. Washington is 4-6, two games behind New York and three behind first-place Philadelphia.

This because of another ugly loss in New Jersey. The Redskins were outgained 299 to 166 and converted only three of 16 first downs, one reason why New York held the ball for more than 36 minutes. They forced three turnovers, but couldn't capitalize fully on each one and it cost them.

Quarterback Shane Matthews, who completed 15 of 35 passes, was intercepted once and kick returner Ladell Betts fumbled a return. Those mistakes led to six points. The Giants dropped a few other potential interceptions.

''You think you have control of the game, but you're seeing turnovers,'' Giants coach Jim Fassel said, ''you're dropping [potential turnovers] and you think it could end up biting you in the [butt],'' he said. ''But it didn't.''

''We had a lot of bad plays in the game,'' Spurrier said. ''We have to do something to try and get better. We can't look like that every game and have much of a chance. It's so disappointing, frustrating. . . . I thought we'd play better offensively than what we're doing right now. We've regressed a little bit the last couple of games.''

Davis carried 19 times for 59 yards against a defense stacked to stop him. The Giants often walked up another defender to help against the run, forcing Washington to win through the air.

The Redskins dropped back to pass 38 times compared to 20 runs.

''They were forcing us to make something happen,'' Spurrier said.

Davis was irked that, after a 14-yard fourth-quarter run in which he broke a tackle on first down, he didn't run again the rest of the series. Three incomplete passes followed and the Redskins punted.

''I thought I'd get the ball again,'' Davis said.

Yet, for all this, Washington still had a chance to win. With just over three minutes remaining, Redskins kicker James Tuthill attempted a 42-yard field goal.

But Tuthill slipped as he approached the ball.

New York's Lance Legree burst through the middle and blocked the kick, ending Washington's last chance to win.

''We felt that was our shot right there,'' Spurrier said.

''That seems to be the story of our team,'' Redskins left tackle Chris Samuels said. ''We were put in a lot of good situations and we didn't get it done. We have no one to blame but ourselves.''

The Giants converted all three of their second-half field goals, slowly taking control of a game they occasionally tried to give away. Matt Bryant made kicks of 34, 33 and 19 yards#=all within six minutes, five seconds of each other, the last one coming in the fourth quarter.

The eventual game-winner was set up when nickel corner Jason Sehorn intercepted a Matthews pass at the Washington 40-yard line, intended for Derrius Thompson. Matthews was pressured on the play, threw off his backfoot and underthrew Thompson.

''They blitzed so I tried to throw it early,'' Matthews said. ''I didn't throw it far enough. A lot of times when you anticipate, you make a really good throw or a really bad one.''

He made the latter. Six plays later Bryant converted the kick.

But the Redskins had their chances. All day. With 5:51 left in the first quarter, Redskins safety Ifeanyi Ohalete intercpeted a Kerry Collins pass and returned it 27 yards to the New York 12.

Washington lost a yard on three plays and settled for a 31-yard Tuthill field goal for a 10-3 lead.

Then, on the first drive of the third quarter, Arrington recovered a fumble by tight end Jeremy Shockey, stripped from behind by end Bruce Smith, at the New York 40. Again the offense botched the gift, gaining one yard on three plays before Bryan Barker punted.

And again the defense got it back as safety David Terrell intercepted a pass tipped by corner Champ Bailey and returned it 19 yards to the Giants' 11.

Finally, the offense responded. On first down, Matthews threw into a crowded end zone#=somehow, receiver Rod Gardner emerged in a pocket of six Giants to catch a touchdown pass, giving Washington a 17-10 lead.

''I tried to throw it high enough because I knew he would go up and get it,'' Matthews said. ''He made a nice play.''

It was Matthews' second touchdown pass of the game. He found receiver Willie Jackson for a six-yard grab in the second quarter, providing Washington a 7-3 lead.

The Giants tied the game with a 35-yard Collins to receiver Amani Toomer touchdown pass with 1:47 left in the half. Toomer beat Terrell, easily racing past him on a post route.

The Redskins also struggled with New York tight end Jeremy Shockey, who grabbed 11 passes for 111 yards.

''He created matchup problems for their linebackers,'' Giants quarterback Kerry Collins said. ''He was able to break free from them and after a while they were all over him, holding him and mugging him.''

They also respect him.

''He's a good athlete and he can run well for a big guy,'' Redskins linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. ''You don't have a lot of tight ends like him in the league. You can put him out at receiver and he's still productive.''

And his productivity stung Washington at a time when it was desperate for a win. Now the Redskins are beyond that point, if they harbor any postseason hopes.

''We've got to win out,'' Samuels said. ''It's not time to panic, but we need to get a sense of urgency. This has been tough. We were 8-8 my first year and 8-8 last year and now we're in this situation. I want to make the playoffs. I want to see how it feels.''

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