- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — On the key play of the key drive, 265-pound running back Brandon Jacobs stomped over linebacker Marcus Washington for another New York Giants first down. It was part of a numbing, 15-play touchdown drive that ate up 8:05 and demoralized the already reeling Washington Redskins.

It also showed the Giants are still a formidable contender in the NFC East.

The Giants came in trying to avoid a disastrous 1-3 start to their season. The drive opened the third quarter and was capped by Eli Manning’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress that gave New York a 16-3 lead.

“We just ran the ball and were stuffing it down their throats,” Giants center Shaun O’Hara said. “We needed a touchdown there because we had been kicking [three field goals]. It also gave our defense a little more breathing room and allowed them to play a little more aggressive.”

The Giants actually had the ball for 29 consecutive offensive plays after driving from their 2-yard line and using a 14-play, 84-yard field-goal drive over 4:26 just before halftime. New York then reasserted its dominance after intermission on the way to the game’s lone touchdown.

The Giants used excellent balance on the 69-yard drive with eight runs for 38 yards, and Manning completed five of seven passes for 41 yards. The big catch came from Amani Toomer on third-and-16 at the Redskins 26 after the Giants had been penalized for intentional grounding. Toomer stretched out at the 5 and made a spectacular grab just inside the far sideline.

“Eli put the ball up to a place where I could stop, get my bearing and jump up for the ball,” said Toomer, who had four catches for 81 yards.

Manning was extremely efficient, passing for 256 yards with no interceptions.

In all, the Giants racked up 411 yards on offense, including a grinding ground game that yielded 155 yards on 36 carries. Tiki Barber led the way with 123 yards on 23 runs. New York went 3-for-3 on third downs in the touchdown drive and converted nine of 16 overall.

The success was a welcome change for the Giants, who had some infighting after a deceptively close 42-30 loss at Seattle two weeks ago before a bye week. Outspoken tight end Jeremy Shockey said his team had been “outcoached.”

Coach Tom Coughlin bristled when asked about dissension on his team.

“There never was anything that had to be quieted down,” he said. “You [reporters] take one statement and enjoy it and run with it for two weeks. There wasn’t any problem in the locker room. OK?”

Barber also addressed the coaching issue.

“There was a lot of talk about [Coughlin] potentially losing this team,” he said. “It’s not so.”

New York had faced one of the league’s toughest schedules in the first three weeks with games against the Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks. Another loss would have left the outlook bleak, particularly with tough road games against the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys coming up.

“We were lacking confidence,” linebacker Antonio Pierce said. “The way you guys in the media were beating us up, we needed some confidence — and we got that.”

They got that with a dominating defensive effort and a punishing offense that demoralized the Redskins with that eight-minute drive at the start of second half.

“We had confidence coming out of halftime. We just wanted to keep the momentum going and put some distance between us and not let them hang around,” Toomer said. “This is just what the doctor ordered for this team.”

And a hard pill for the Redskins to digest.

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