“That’s when everything started,” defensive end Phillip Daniels lamented. “We’re right where we said we don’t want to be, but sometimes I think we play better with our backs against the wall.”
Given how little production they’ve received from backs Betts and Clinton Portis lately — an average of just 73.3 rushing yards the past four games — if the Redskins are going to play better than usual at Giants Stadium they’ll need another strong performance from Todd Collins.
The 36-year-old quarterback stepped in for the injured Jason Campbell against the Bears and earned NFC Offensive Player of The Week honors with 224 passing yards, two touchdowns and a 144.6 passer rating.
“Nothing was surprising to me because we see him every day in practice,” Moss said of Collins, whose last start was Dec. 14, 1997. “I feel like whatever you can do in practice, you can do in a game. He knows how to get rid of the football, knows where it has to go. Todd knows the offense so well [after seven years in associate head coach Al Saunders’ system], it’s like second nature to him.”
That’s what getting to the quarterback is to the Giants. Right end Osi Umenyiora has 12 sacks, three more than left end Michael Strahan, whose 141½ career sacks ranks fifth all-time.
“Protection is huge,” center Casey Rabach said. “The best thing for us would be to get the running game going and stay out of those third-and-long situations where they really thrive with that pass rush. They do a heck of a job of getting pressure with their front four.”
No team has endured the pressure the Redskins have with safety Sean Taylor’s murder sandwiched between the third and fourth consecutive defeats that turned their promising 5-3 first half into a 5-7 record.
“We really went through some tough things, but we definitely still have a chance to make the playoffs even though we let some games slip away,” Washington said. “That says a lot about the coaches here and this team. We’re going to fight to the end.”
Note — With Campbell sidelined, Gibbs decided he couldn’t go into today’s game with starting receiver Antwaan Randle El, a college quarterback, as his No. 3 passer. So Gibbs promoted rookie Sam Hollenbach from the practice squad to join veterans Collins and Mark Brunell. Hollenbach, who started at Maryland the past two seasons, had only been re-signed on Friday after being cut in July. The Redskins waived receiver Jimmy Farris yet again to make room for Hollenbach.
WHAT IT MEANS …
IF THE GIANTS WIN:
• New York clinches a wild card berth.
• The Redskins would not be eliminated even if New Orleans, Minnesota and Detroit all win.
IF THE REDSKINS WIN:
• They’re still alive. Losses by New Orleans to Arizona and Minnesota to Chicago (tomorrow night) would help their cause.
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