- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2005

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — From the Hogs to the Dirtbags, from Joe Bugel to Jim Hanifan and back to Bugel again, Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins prided themselves on stellar offensive line play.

That line, however, was overrun yesterday at Giants Stadium by a New York defense that entered the game ranked as the second-worst in the NFL. The Redskins surrendered five sacks, managed just seven first downs and 2.9 yards per carry and scored no points in an embarrassing 36-0 loss.

“We all had a bad day,” said right tackle Jon Jansen, who gave up one sack to Pro Bowl end Michael Strahan in their first duel in almost two seasons. “We stopped them at times, but we didn’t stop them at key points. If you’re going to be a good offensive line, you’ve got to stop them all game.

“They were pretty much doing it with their front seven. We weren’t protecting the way we have in the past.”

Left tackle Chris Samuels exited the game in the third quarter because of a sprained right knee.

“It was a horrible day,” Samuels said. “We got into a one-dimensional game. Once they took the lead, they pinned their ears back and kept coming. My knee kind of just gave out on me. It had kind of been bothering me a little bit anyway. I don’t know what’s wrong with it right now. There’s no ligament damage, but we’ll see what the MRI says tomorrow.”

Samuels was replaced by 42-year-old Ray Brown. Strahan, hoping to exploit a weakness, switched sides so that he could face Brown. Strahan almost immediately pushed Brown onto his back.

“I’m a backup,” Brown said. “Wherever there’s a fire, I just go in and hopefully try to hold it until the starter comes back.”

Beat up and battered

The Redskins entered the game with all their starters listed as active for the first time this season. That good fortune ended as soon as Giants running back Tiki Barber gashed the Washington defense for 57 yards on the first play from scrimmage.

Top defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin reinjured his hip on that play and lasted only one more snap. Defensive tackle Joe Salave’a succumbed to the continuing pain in his right foot in the second half.

Backups Cedric Killings and Aki Jones were listed as inactive for the game because of injuries, leaving Ryan Boschetti as the only healthy defensive tackle.

“I felt it as soon as I started to try to chase Tiki,” said Griffin, who was first injured in the Oct. 23 win over San Francisco and missed the first two days of practice last week. “I knew I wasn’t 100 percent, but I had to try to play. It hurts more because I think I could’ve made a difference, and all I could do was stand and watch.

“We can’t be any thinner [at defensive tackle]. I’ve got to keep rehabbing and hopefully get to feeling better.”

Defensive end Phillip Daniels went out with an injured ankle in the fourth quarter.

H-back Chris Cooley was carted off to the locker room for X-rays of his hip in the second quarter after being leveled by Giants linebacker Reggie Torbor. He later returned to the game.

“It loosened up after a while,” Cooley said. “I’m sure it will be sore, but I’ll be fine.”

Running back Clinton Portis and cornerback Shawn Springs also were attended to after being knocked woozy but didn’t miss any game time.

No sweat

The Redskins listed kicker John Hall as active for the first time since he pulled his right quadriceps in the Sept. 11 season opener against the Bears, but he never got on the field yesterday.

Punter Derrick Frost performed the opening kickoff, and the Redskins never kicked off again nor tried a field goal or extra point.

Hall’s replacement in the previous five games, rookie Nick Novak, was declared inactive. So were defensive tackles Cedric Killings (ankle) and Aki Jones (hamstring), offensive lineman Jim Molinaro, defensive end Nic Clemons, running back Nehemiah Broughton and cornerback Dimitri Patterson. Jason Campbell was the third quarterback.

Mara remembered

Flags hung at half-staff in memory of Wellington Mara, the Giants owner who died Tuesday at 89 after a battle with cancer. Mara’s granddaughter Kate sang the national anthem, accompanied by the rest of his 40 grandchildren.

A video tribute to Mara was shown on the scoreboards at halftime. Quarterback Eli Manning presented Mara’s son, John, the franchise’s CEO, with the game ball after the victory.

“It was pretty special,” John Mara said. “I said, ‘Don’t do this to me. I don’t know if I can hold my emotions anymore.’ I never in my wildest dreams expected them to pitch a shutout. I just wish [my father] could have been there to see it.”

No gloating

Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce downplayed the significance of beating his old team, even though he said previously the Redskins did not give him the respect he deserved in offseason contract negotiations.

Pierce ultimately signed a $26 million deal with the Giants, and yesterday he rewarded his new club by producing an interception and a team-high 11 tackles (seven solo).

“That’s what happens when you know what they are going to do,” he said, half-jokingly.

Pierce was especially proud of shutting down the Redskins’ running game. Star running back Clinton Portis was a virtual no-show, carrying four times for 9 yards. The Redskins were held to 38 yards rushing as a team.

The fifth-year linebacker, who made 160 tackles for the Redskins last season, felt that stifling Portis was the key to the shutout.

“Especially if you take that running game away from that team, it eliminates a lot because the Joe Gibbs offense is built on power running,” Pierce said. “… To be able to hit them at the line and be able to take them down felt good. I am friends with a lot of guys on that team. We are close friends. It felt good.”

Turnovers galore

The Redskins committed four turnovers yesterday, which the Giants converted into 16 points.

Santana Moss, Ladell Betts and Chris Cooley each lost a fumble. Mark Brunell threw his first interception since Week 3 against the Seahawks, a span of 136 attempts.

Moss’s fumble came in the second quarter with the Redskins down 13-0. He caught Brunell’s pass and was spun around while trying to get extra yards.

“They’re a good defense when it comes to taking the ball away,” Moss said. “I was just turning to do something. That’s me. If you don’t try, then you’re going to leave something on the field.

“I saw something open up, but when you’ve got all these defenders around you, you’ve got to hold on tighter. I thought I had it tight enough, but the ball came out.”

The Redskins have committed more turnovers than they’ve forced in six of their seven games and are minus-9 for the season.

Opponents have scored 43 points off Redskins turnovers this season. The Redskins have managed only 14 points off turnovers, all against the lowly 49ers.

Drop it

The Redskins dropped eight passes, and none of them can be blamed on Rod Gardner or Laveranues Coles, who no longer are with the team.

Through six games, the Redskins managed to avoid a major bout of the drops, but Robert Royal (three), Santana Moss (two) and Chris Cooley, David Patten and Clinton Portis (one each) flubbed catchable passes yesterday.

Moss had his worst game with the Redskins, catching four passes for 34 yards and no touchdowns.

“I’ll have to look at it and see what we did differently,” Moss said. “We didn’t play our best, and when I say that I start with myself.”

Said Brunell: “Coverage wide, they had a couple guys on him and they had a great scheme. When we tried to get the ball downfield, they were really smart about what they were doing.”

Giants cornerback Will Allen was assigned to Moss most of the day. A lack of protection — Brunell and Patrick Ramsey were sacked a combined five times — also hurt the passing game.

Giving up the big ones

The Giants, led by Tiki Barber runs of 58 and 59 yards, produced four plays of 20 or more yards — an alarming trend for the Redskins defense.

Washington opponents have produced seven such plays the last two weeks. In the previous three games, the Redskins gave up just eight plays of 20 or more yards.

The defense has allowed runs of 72, 58, 59 and 55 yards this season.

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache wouldn’t use injuries to the defensive line as an excuse. Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave’a left the game, and reserve Cedric Killings missed a second straight week.

“I’m always concerned about everything, but you know what? Somebody is going to line up in a Redskins uniform,” Blache said.

The Redskins allowed 262 rushing yards yesterday, by far the most since Gregg Williams started running the defense. Their per-game average jumped from 108.5 to 130.4 yards.

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