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Washington at N.Y. Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Sept. 15, 2004) -- Apparently, Joe Gibbs didn't lose his winning touch in 12 years away from the NFL.

Following a victory in his return, the Hall of Fame coach looks to lead the Washington Redskins to a win over the NFC East rival New York Giants.

Clinton Portis rushed for 148 yards in his Redskins debut, including a 64-yard touchdown run on his first carry, as the Redskins gave Gibbs a 16-10 victory against Tampa Bay in front of the home fans at FedEx Field last week.

"It was huge for me, I can tell you that," said Gibbs, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the Redskins. "And I think it was for our players, too. ... As a family and everything else, for us it's a big deal. I told my players that I hope now the attention can go on them."

Yet Gibbs deserves some of the credit for Portis' touchdown, as it came from the coach's usual bag of tricks: a counter play that suckered the Buccaneers defense the wrong way. Portis took one step to the left, then headed for daylight to the right and was never touched.

Also evident in the Redskins last week was Gibbs' commitment to defense. They held the Bucs without an offensive touchdown for the game and without a first down until midway through the second quarter. Two of Washington's three field goals were set up by turnovers, and Tampa Bay managed just 169 yards, including 30 rushing. The Redskins sacked Brad Johnson four times.

"I can't take any credit for that," said Gibbs, who was lured back to coach this season after retiring in 1992. "All I do is walk down there and scream, 'Stop 'em.' "

While Gibbs may deflect attention away from himself, his detailed preparation should be even more evident this week against a team the Redskins regularly battled for NFC East supremacy during Gibbs' first Washington tenure. The current Giants club, however, played nothing like the team Gibbs is used to facing last week, struggling in all facets of the game in a 31-17 loss to Philadelphia.

In contrast to Washington, New York seemed completely unprepared in its opener against Eagles stars Terrell Owens, Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. Owens had three touchdown catches, McNabb threw for 330 yards and a career-high four TDs, and Westbrook ran for 119 yards against a badly overmatched Giants defense.

"We obviously had a lot of trouble stopping them on defense," coach Tom Coughlin said after his first game as Giants coach. "We have our work cut out for us, but I'm not discouraged."

There's also plenty to be done for New York on the other side of the ball. Two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner had a lackluster debut for the Giants, going 16 of 28 for 203 yards and getting sacked four times. The former St. Louis quarterback has lost his last nine starts.

Heralded rookie Eli Manning made his NFL debut in the final minutes, handing off to Tiki Barber for a 72-yard TD run on his first play, but the Giants still lost their ninth straight game.

"I thought we made progress," Warner said. "But it's never good enough if you don't win."

The game features the first matchup as opponents between the Redskins' Mark Brunell and Coughlin, who were the original quarterback and coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Even though they had some differences through the years, neither would say anything bad about the other.

"Unless Tom lines up on the other side of the ball, this isn't Mark vs. Tom," Brunell said. "The extent of this thing is I'm going to shake his hand before the game, and I'm going to shake his hand afterward. Other than that, it's two football teams going at it. I'm looking forward to seeing him. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him."

STANDINGS: Redskins -- 1st place (tied), NFC East. Giants -- 3rd place (tied), NFC East.

REDSKINS LEADERS: Offense -- Brunell, 125 passing yards; Portis, 148 rushing yards and 1 rushing TD; Rod Gardner and Portis, 4 receptions; Gardner, 61 receiving yards. Defense -- Matt Bowen, 2 sacks; Antonio Pierce, 1 INT.

GIANTS LEADERS: Offense -- Warner, 203 passing yards; Barber, 125 rushing yards, 5 receptions and 75 receiving yards; Barber and Ron Dayne, 1 rushing TD. Defense -- Kevin Lewis and Michael Strahan, 1 sack.

REDSKINS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense -- 166.0 yards per game (9th in NFL); Passing Offense -- 125.0 ypg (31st); Total Offense -- 291.0 ypg (19th). Rushing Defense -- 30.0 ypg (1st); Passing Defense -- 139.0 ypg (6th); Total Defense -- 169.0 ypg (1st).

GIANTS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense -- 170.0 yards per game (6th); Passing Offense -- 243.0 ypg (11th); Total Offense -- 413.0 ypg (T-8th). Rushing Defense -- 141.0 ypg (22nd); Passing Defense -- 313.0 ypg (30th); Total Defense -- 454.0 ypg (32nd).

LAST MEETING: Dec. 7; Redskins, 20-7. At East Rutherford, N.J., Tim Hasselbeck passed for 154 yards and two TDs as the Giants lost their fifth straight.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Redskins -- Washington earned its 500th regular-season victory last week, and Gibbs has been on the sidelines for 25 percent of them (125-60). ... LB Mike Barrow, who spent 2000-03 with New York, has a knee injury and is questionable. Barrow was the Giants' leading tackler last season with a career-high 177, but was released in March in a cost-cutting move. ... Despite winning the last meeting, Washington is 1-3 in the last four meetings with New York. Giants -- New York has won three of its last four home openers. ... Barber has at least 96 yards rushing in three consecutive games against Washington. ... Strahan has 15 sacks against the Redskins, his second-most against any opponent.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Redskins -- 0-0 on the road; Giants -- 0-0 at home.


Washington Redskins

Club earned 500th regular-season victory last week and head coach JOE GIBBS has been on sidelines for 25 percent of those wins (125-60). ... QB MARK BRUNELL has 4 TD passes vs. 1 INT in 2 career starts vs. Giants. Has 86 career INT in 3,667 attempts for 2.34 INT pct, third-best in NFL history. ... RB CLINTON PORTIS rushed for 148 yards last week, including 64-yard TD run, most-ever by player in his first game with Redskins. WR LAVERANUES COLES returns to stadium he played home games in as member of Jets from 2000-02. Seeks second career 100-yard game vs. Giants in third game vs. club. ... Defense held Bucs without offensive TD and looks to repeat feat for first time since 9/14 and 9/28 in 1997. ... LB LaVAR ARRINGTON seeks sack in third consecutive game vs. Giants and has three sacks in past two vs. NYG. LB MIKE BARROW spent 2000-03 with Giants. ... CB FRED SMOOT has started 44 of possible 49 games since being drafted in second round of '01 draft and has led club in INTs for 3 years in row.

New York Giants

Club celebrates 80th anniversary season and seeks victory in home opener for fifth time in past 5 years. ... Head coach TOM COUGHLIN had 40-28 (.588) record in division games with Jax from 1995-02. ... QB KURT WARNER has 14,650 career passing yards. Passed for 301 yards, 2 TDs in only career start vs. Redskins (w/ Rams, 11/24/02). ... RB TIKI BARBER rushed for 125 yards vs. Eagles, including 72-yard TD run. Has 14 career 100-yard games and needs 100 to become third player in team history with 15 career. Has at least 96 yards rushing in three consecutive games vs. Wash. ... WR AMANI TOOMER needs 100 yards receiving for 20th career 100-yard game. Has reception in club-record 84 games in row. ... TE JEREMY SHOCKEY is first Giant to be selected to Pro Bowl in each of first two seasons since LAWRENCE TAYLOR (1981-82). Has 5+ catches in all three career games vs. Wash, including career-best tying 11 (111 yards) in last home game vs. Wash. ... DE MICHAEL STRAHAN seeks third multi-sack game in row vs. Redskins at home. Has 15 career sacks vs. Wash, his second-most vs. any foe. Posted 1 sack vs. Eagles and leads all active players with 115 career.

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