- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2005

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tiki Barber took the pitch, turned the left corner and disappeared down the sideline on the first play of the game. The New York Giants running back was tackled only after a 57-yard gain, a long run that foreshadowed grim things to come for the Washington Redskins.

Barber finished the game with a career-high 206 yards rushing, torching one of the NFL’s top defenses and helping the Giants to a 36-0 thrashing of the Redskins. The ninth-year veteran from Virginia also posted a 59-yard run and 4-yard touchdown scamper to cap a powerful performance.

“It was a play we haven’t run a lot this year,” Barber said of his first run. “We knew we could get them in a mismatch situation, and everything worked out. I think it did set the tone. It let them know we were going to run the ball a lot.”

Barber averaged 8.6 yards on 24 carries and continually worked the left side for sizable gains. Barber sat out the fourth quarter with the Giants in command, losing a chance to break the club’s single-game rushing record of 218 yards by Gene Roberts in 1950 against the Chicago Cardinals.

Barber and Co. got a bit of help in dissecting the Redskins defense, which entered the game ranked fourth in the NFL. Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce was a standout performer with the Redskins last season, and he added the role of offensive consultant for his new team last week in practice.

“[Pierce] gave us a couple hints about how they play defense,” said Barber, whose previous best was a 203-yard performance against the Eagles in 2002. “They line up against five plays that they think we are going to run, and that’s what they are going to stop. We went away from our tendencies, and it paid off at the very beginning of the game.”

The Giants neutralized the Redskins’ aggressive defense by pounding the weak side, which was made more vulnerable by a hip flexor injury to tackle Cornelius Griffin.

The Giants gained confidence and manhandled the defense, which had allowed an average of 119 yards rushing in its first six contests.

The victory was especially poignant for Barber, who along with the entire team attended the funeral of franchise owner Wellington Mara on Friday. The running back was a close friend of Mara, the NFL’s senior owner. Barber even visited Mara at his house on Monday, the day before he died after a lengthy battle with cancer.

“It was a big day for me,” Barber said. “It was a special day for me considering the emotions and the circumstances of this last week. To be able to have my best day on this day is something I will never forget.”

The Giants beat the Denver Broncos last week on a last-second pass while Mara was on his deathbed. Yesterday, the Giants obliterated their rivals to take sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

Barber said Mara never was far from his mind and that he felt fulfilled when he finally reached the end zone to give his team a 35-0 lead in the third quarter.

“Sometimes history writes itself before it happens,” he said. “I don’t think we could’ve written it any better today.”

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