The New York Giants have had two weeks to solve their numerous problems.
They’re going to find out whether the time off helped when they host the Washington Redskins on Sunday in an NFC East matchup.
The Giants (1-2) had a well-timed bye last week, giving the team a chance to cool off and potentially correct the mistakes stemming from a crushing 42-30 loss to Seattle in Week 3.
New York trailed 42-3 at one point, and tight end Jeremy Shockey was critical of the coaching staff afterward, saying the team was “outplayed and outcoached.” He said the play calling wasn’t up to par and the team wasn’t prepared for the different defense the Seahawks threw at the Giants.
The Giants defense struggled and the offense didn’t help matters with turnovers. New York is averaging 391.3 yards of offense, second in the NFL, but committed four turnovers in the first half against the Seahawks, all of which led to touchdowns.
“It is a matter of us getting out there and executing well and making plays and making smart decisions,” said quarterback Eli Manning, who threw three interceptions. “Sometimes it’s tough. You get in a situation and you have one bad play and it’s tough to overcome that. You have to eliminate the bad plays and play smart football.”
New York came into the matchup with Seattle following a thrilling 30-24 overtime victory at Philadelphia in which it rallied from a 24-7 deficit, but the Seahawks shredded a defense that’s allowing 30.7 points per game, second-worst in the league.
The frustration within the team was evident on the sidelines, and although Shockey was contrite after his comments and will not be benched against the Redskins by coach Tom Coughlin, the Giants appear to be dealing with internal fighting that’s threatening to derail a season that could end without a repeat trip to the playoffs.
“I hope that’s what everyone went home and thought about, and I hope they came back with that mentality,” veteran cornerback Sam Madison said. “If not, it’s going to be a long season. This is a divisional game, and it’s definitely a big one.”
While Shockey’s words won’t keep him from playing, his sprained right ankle might. Even with the week off to rest, the Pro Bowler’s status for this week is uncertain.
Emotions figure to be high at Giants Stadium on Sunday, not only because New York is facing division rival Washington, but because linebackers LaVar Arrington and Antonio Pierce are facing their former team.
Pierce left Washington after the 2004 season to sign with New York, while Arrington was involved in a messy parting with the Redskins this past offseason. The Giants inked Arrington to a $49 million contract to play beside Pierce again.
“It’s a game we need to win,” said Pierce, who had 11 tackles and an interception in the Giants’ 36-0 home win over the Redskins last year. “It’s a game in the division, and everybody else is winning right now and we are not. It’s a big game for us. People are going to be fired up. There’s going to be a lot of emotion.”
If the Giants can control turnovers, perhaps they won’t fall behind by a large deficit to the Redskins (2-2). New York can’t afford to give extra opportunities to the Redskins, who have found their offensive rhythm following an 0-2 start.
Washington (2-2) has scored 67 points in consecutive victories, including a 36-30 overtime win over Jacksonville last week.
After struggling to learn new coordinator Al Saunders’ offense, the Redskins now rank third in the NFL, averaging 371.8 yards.
“I think it is a statement around the league. Jacksonville is one of the top defenses in the league,” tackle Chris Samuels said. “They’ve been shutting people down, and nobody thought we could run on those guys. For us to go out there and put up what we put up, make plays all day throwing the ball, it says a lot.”
Washington ran for 152 yards against the Jags, including 112 from Clinton Portis, who’s tied for the NFL lead with four rushing touchdowns and who appears completely healthy for the first time this season.
Mark Brunell and Santana Moss have rediscovered the connection that made the Redskins passing game so dangerous last year. Brunell threw for 329 yards and three TDs against the Jaguars, with all three scores going to Moss, including a 68-yard strike 1:49 into OT.
Moss, averaging 19.2 yards per catch, has enjoyed playing against the Giants in his career. In three games against New York, he has 19 catches for 315 yards and six touchdowns.
“Moss is the silent assassin,” Redskins fullback Mike Sellers said. “He just puts in the work, doesn’t say nothing. Even if he burns you, he won’t talk trash to you. He’ll just walk back to the huddle and run the next play. That’s a true professional.”
Moss won’t get to face his younger brother Sinorice, also a wide receiver who was drafted by the Giants in the second round this year. Sinorice has a strained quad and will be inactive for the third time this season.
The teams split their two meetings last season, with each club winning at home. After New York shut out Washington on Oct. 30 thanks to 206 rushing yards from Tiki Barber, the Redskins topped the Giants 35-20 on Dec. 24 behind 160 yards and three touchdowns from Moss.
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