Giants wide receiver Derek Hagan celebrates his third-quarter touchdown during a game against the Washington Redskins, Monday, Dec. 21, in Landover, Md.
There have been plenty of times this football season when the Giants couldn't do anything right and found themselves on the receiving end of a blowout. Monday night was not one of those nights.
Everything the Giants touched turned to gold in Washington and they kept their playoff hopes alive with a 45-12 rout that wasn't even as close as that lopsided score indicates. The Giants scored on their first four drives, only allowed the Redskins to run three offensive plays in the first quarter and scored three more touchdowns in the second half to eliminate even the faintest hopes of a comeback.
Eli Manning played a flawless game, spreading the ball around to every receiving option on the roster as his offensive line gave him eons to find open men on every dropback. The line also opened up holes in the running game, Ahmad Bradshaw ran with the gusto he showed in the first few weeks and the wideouts ran strong routes and flashed good hands all night.
The offense has been strong for the last couple of games, however. The more inspiring part of Monday night's win was the return of the Giants pass rush. Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and company hit Jason Campbell on nearly every passing play and the Giants' thin secondary was able to avoid embarassment.
The performance left two questions hanging in the air. Where was this kind of performance for the last eight games and will they be able to keep it up over the last two weeks of the season?
Answering the first part may be as easy as pointing out that they haven't played the Redskins recently. Not to take anything away from the Giants, but it is hard to think of a more pathetic effort than the one the Redskins put forth on Monday night. They didn't block, didn't cover receivers and didn't tackle with anything resembling confidence. Their entire night could be summed up with the jokester play they ran just before halftime when they chose not to kick a field goal and opted for a high school gadget play that left their punter to throw a lame duck pass that the Giants easily intercepted. The Giants played great, but there are lingerie football league teams that would have had the same success.
As for the Giants keeping it up, we've seen too much of the bad Giants to make any bold predictions. All of the same pieces have been in place all season and they haven't been able to consistently come up with this kind of an effort. They certainly know what they have to do -- let Manning carry the offense and overwhelm the opposing offense with pressure -- but executing it is the hard part of the equation.