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NFL.com article to make you feel better by Pat Kirwin

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Where do Giants, 'Skins go from here?

By Pat Kirwan

(Nov. 4, 2005) -- The New York Giants posted the first shutout of the 2005 season last week when they beat the Washington Redskins 36-0. I had the honor of being involved in two defensive efforts in my days at the New York Jets when we shut out an opponent, and believe me, they are hard to come by in this league -- and it appears they are getting more difficult to achieve all the time.

There are 256 regular-season games every year. In 2002, there were six shutouts during the year. There were 11 shutouts in 2003, which was the year before an emphasis was placed on pass interference and illegal contact by defenders. The Patriots had three of those 11 shutouts that season. In 2004, shutouts dropped to four for the entire season. And now, after half of the NFL season, we have just one.

I looked at a couple of things this week to try to gauge what the effect of the shutout might be on both the Redskins and the Giants, including following up all the teams that had a shutout in the past three years with their next week's performance. I asked two Redskins players this week about the psychological effect of being shut out, and they were clearly angry about the "goose egg," and I am convinced they will play with an attitude this week against the Eagles. What does history tell us might happen? Well, no one has been shut out two weeks in a row since 2002. Secondly, in the 21 shutouts recorded in the past three seasons, two of them came on the last day of the season, so there is no history of what the next week would bring to the team. Of the 19 in-season shutouts, the team that got blanked came back and won the next week 11 times and lost eight times. The Redskins have history on their side that they will right the ship after the "0fer" last week.

The one other thing that needs to be noted here is that the Redskins got shut out in the first half of the season. It is much more common for teams to get shut out in the second half of the season because of injuries, weather and tumultuous coaching situations. Only seven of the 21 shutouts were in the first half of the season.

As for the effect on the New York Giants, no team in the past three years has back-to-back shutouts, so there's an honor within their reach this week. But a word of caution goes out to the Giants about what happens after a shutout win. Again, throw out the two teams that won a shutout on the last day of the regular season, and look at the other 19 winners. The follow-up weekend record is 10-9. In 2004, all four shutout wins were followed by a loss. In 2003, the record was 6-4. What else came from this look back was the glaring reality that of the 19 games that followed a shutout win, six games went to overtime!

In the six overtime games following a shutout win the week before, four times the team went down to defeat. Is it possible the shutout wins gave the teams a false sense of confidence, so that only 50 percent of the teams could win the next week? Is it possible the next opponents had a stronger sense of urgency, because they knew a team they were playing next was coming off a shutout win?

I'm not sure anyone knows the answers to those questions, but if history is worth anything, it says that the Redskins have a better chance of turning around their bad fortunes than the Giants have of capitalizing on their good fortune. Another reason I find the NFL so intriguing and impossible to figure out.

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