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Reality check

By Ryan O'Halloran


October 31, 2005

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Never before had a Joe Gibbs-coached Washington Redskins team been routed so soundly. Not since January 1987 had a Gibbs team been shut out, a span of 128 games.

If anything succinctly summarizes the New York Giants' 36-0 destruction of the Redskins yesterday at Giants Stadium, that does it.

A 4-2 start, the rebirth of quarterback Mark Brunell and continued defensive excellence took a major detour at Exit 16W of the New Jersey Turnpike.

"I've been a part of some of these and unfortunately, it happened to us today," Brunell said. "They beat us in every aspect of the game. They were more physical, made more plays and we turned it over. All the things we talk about not doing, we did today."

The third loss in four weeks for the Redskins (4-3) makes Sunday night's home game against Philadelphia even more crucial. A loss to end the season's first half would essentially squash the momentum created in September and October.

"We didn't match them on anything all the way across the board," Gibbs said of the Giants (5-2).

In surveying the wreckage, it's tough to find a starting point. As Brunell said afterward, "the list is long."

The list includes: Running back Clinton Portis -- days after declaring that his "mojo" was back -- had his worst day as pro (four carries, 9 yards). Brunell -- the subject of comeback pieces on the morning pregame shows -- was 11 of 28 for 65 yards. The offense -- which entered with three straight games of at least 398 yards -- managed a measly 125 yards, seven first downs and three turnovers. The defense -- fourth overall in yards allowed -- permitted Tiki Barber to run roughshod, gaining 206 yards on 24 carries.

The last time a Gibbs team was shut out was at the Meadowlands -- 17-0 by the Giants in the NFC Championship game following the 1986 season.

"We really fell apart," right tackle Jon Jansen said. "A terrible day for the Redskins. We didn't do anything right and they did everything right."

How bad a day was it for Jansen?

"That's as bad a performance as I've been a part of in my whole life," he said. "From not protecting the quarterback and turning it over to giving up big plays and making stupid penalties, it was a bad day all around."

The bad day started on the first play from scrimmage. Using a similar play the 49ers' Frank Gore ran to scoot 72 yards for a garbage time touchdown last week, Barber burst through the right side of the Redskins' defense for a 57-yard gain. The Giants were held to a field goal, but the tone was set.

The motivated Giants -- playing five days after longtime owner Wellington Mara died -- were ready.

The flat Redskins -- playing for a share of first place in their division -- were not.

"It's embarrassing," H-back Chris Cooley said. "Our whole team played bad. We played awful. We didn't come to play."

Barber later added a 59-yard run and 10 of his carries gained four or more yards, which made it meaningless that Eli Manning was 12 of 31 for 146 yards.

"We gave up some big runs early and it was surprising and disappointing," defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. "It was an old-fashioned butt wupping."

While the defense had trouble stopping Barber, the Redskins offense reverted to their 2004 form. In the first half, when the game remained within reach because the Giants were settling for four Jay Feely field goals, the Redskins managed two first downs, 34 yards and saw their seven drives end with five punts and two turnovers.

"I was shocked with the way everything was going," right guard Randy Thomas said. "It was unbelievable. We didn't get anything going."

The Redskins didn't cross midfield until their first drive of the fourth quarter, when Brunell was on the sideline and Patrick Ramsey was the quarterback.

"I should have played a lot better, I could have made better decisions, I could have made better throws," Brunell said. "There were protection [problems [-] five sacks], dropped balls [eight] and offensively, we were bad from front to back. We could talk about it forever. The list goes on."

The Giants led 19-0 at halftime and put the game away early in the third quarter. Ladell Betts fumbled the opening kickoff and three plays later, Manning hit Jeremy Shockey for a 10-yard touchdown.

In addition to the defeat, the Redskins also must deal with injuries. Cooley (hip), Chris Samuels (knee), Phillip Daniels (ankle), Joe Salave'a (foot) and Cornelius Griffin (hip flexor) all missed time against the Giants.

"We have to take a long, hard look at ourselves -- and that certainly starts with me on this -- and see what we can do about it," Gibbs said.

Said Thomas: "We really believe we're better than 4-3. We have a this-is-what-your-made-of game coming up."

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