The Washington Redskins were 0-7, and the bye week had been a disaster. Seemingly buried under adversity, they rose behind a young group of unlikely heroes and wiped away some of the humiliation.
Against a flat offense and an erratic quarterback, the Redskins forced the New York Giants to punt on 11 of 13 possessions. Trent Green, Stephen Davis and Skip Hicks -- all inexperienced backups on offense at the start of the season -- did the rest in Washington's 21-14 victory on Sunday.
"When you're 0-7, what else can go wrong?" free safety Stanley Richard said. "So, just go out there and start having fun. And that was the attitude today. ... We know we can win. Let's just keep rolling."
The Redskins (1-7) won without 1997 defensive player of the year Dana Stubblefield, Marc Boutte and Stephen Alexander - all injured during the two-week break since the last game. Gus Frerotte and Michael Westbrook were benched -- Frerotte because he was struggling and Westbrook because he missed a practice -- with both expressing their displeasure with coach Norv Turner. In addition, Terry Allen reaggravated a strained calf muscle in the first half.
Nevertheless, thSkins won - even if the locker room celebration was somewhat muted.
"It's a start," receiver Leslie Shepherd said. "We said when we came up at the end of the game, there's no need to go out and celebrate like we've won the Super Bowl. But when you're 0-7, the emotions are going to take over because it just feels good to win - for a change."
| Trent Green avoids a sack from New York defensive end Chad Bratzke before making a short gain during the second quarter. (AP) |
The Giants (3-5), who started the Redskins losing streak with a 31-24 victory in the season-opener, talked before the game about the importance of not looking past the Redskins to next week's game against Dallas.
Coach Jim Fassel even called it a "trap game" in his pre-game speech. The talk apparently didn't translate into action, as a rhythmless offense went 2-for-14 on third-down conversions and punted on its first eight possessions
"We came out flat," linebacker Jessie Armstead said. "As a team, we lacked intensity in certain areas. It wasn't an upbeat tempo the whole game. We were going like a roller-coaster up and down."
Washington, which lost its first seven games by an average of 19 points with a minus-13 turnover differential, had its first turnover-free performance of the season. Green said the coaches had emphasized the need to avoid turnovers, explaining why he ran less and took a couple of sacks without much struggle.
"This is nice," Green said. "The frustrations of the first two months were beginning to take their toll on everybody. We have eight more to make it feel a lot better, but this is a good first step."
Hicks, in place of Allen, carried five times for 50 yards on the opening drive of the second half, finishing it with a 4-yard TD run to give the Redskins a 21-7 lead. Davis, forced to play fullback after a season-ending injury to Larry Bowie four weeks ago, caught five passes for 65 yards, including a 12-yard TD reception in the second quarter that made it 14-7.
And Green, re-promoted after Frerotte's dismal game against the Vikings before the bye week, had his best game to end an 0-5 career run as a starter. Green was 21-of-31 for 225 yards and scored the Redskins first touchdown on a 1-yard bootleg.
Other than David Patten's 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter, the only highlight for the Giants was a 4-play, 70-yard TD drive that made it 21-14 late in the third quarter. Danny Kanell hit Ike Hilliard for 46 yards and then Hilliard again for 11 yards on a hitch route in the back corner of the end zone.
Kanell finished 17-of-32 for 151 yards, and the Giants had 86 yards rushing. New York hed the ball for just 21 minutes, 31 seconds, compared with Washington's 37:29.
The Redskins got their first touchdown on the first drive after Giants defensive end Michael Strahan left with back spasms in the first quarter. Green hit Davis with back-to-back passes to set up first-and-goal, then scooted right untouched on the bootleg to make it 7-0.
Patten immediately tied the score with his kickoff return. Such developments have rattled the Redskins in previous games, but this time Green led an 11-play drive capped by a 12-yard TD pass to Davis.
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