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Whistle-blowers snuff out Skins' comeback bid




Contact John Markon at (804) 649-6892 or jmarkon@timesdispatch.com


When some NFL division rivals meet, you can allegedly throw the record book out the window.

When it's the Washington Redskins and New York Giants, you might be better off throwing a rule book out the window.

Films of last night's match at FedEx Field, which ended with the Giants 24-21 winners in overtime, are more likely to appear on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" than on ESPN Classic. The game's leading rusher wasn't Ladell Betts or Tiki Barber, but referee Johnny Grier, who stepped off 142 yards against Washington and another 124 against New York.

Grier couldn't be stopped or contained. There was a rumor in the press box that the game might be delayed while fresh batteries were found for Grier's field microphone.

The Redskins, who specialized in delay of game, tied a franchise record with 17 penalties. The Giants were penalized 15 times, but may have actually had a hidden and potentially decisive penalty edge as the Redskins declined (by unofficial count) an additional five flags against New York.

In the midst of all this lawlessness, it's hard to believe that one penalty would have been singled out for individual attention, but it came late in the first half - against the Redskins - and was still sticking in Jeremiah Trotter's throat well after the game ended.

The Giants had gained possession on their 43-yard line with 3:01 remaining and were immediately backed into a third-and-29 by a fumble and a pair of penalties. The Redskins lined up offside to bring on third-and-24, but the Giants, leading 14-3 at the time, weren't up for anything more adventurous than a right-end sweep by Barber.

It's fairly standard NFL practice. On third-and-a-million, you guard against a turnover, punt and play defense.

Barber's run ended in front of the Giants' bench. After the stop, you could see players from both teams gathering in a circle and it wasn't for a postgame prayer. A yellow flag emerged.

"One of their linemen hit me late in the back," said Trotter. "I need to hold my emotions and my vengeance in that situation, but I retaliated. Stupid . . . stupid . . . stupid."

No argument. No argument. No argument.

Trotter grabbed Rich Seubert's face mask and gave it a playful twist. Given an automatic first down, New York rolled the remaining 41 yards to take a 21-3 halftime lead that would have decided the issue if the Giants had shown any team discipline in the second half.

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