Buried in the Meadowlands

*The last time there was such lifelessness in the Meadowlands, Jimmy Hoffa was being planted belly up in the old stadium’s south end zone. The New York Giants (8-4) were the ones doing the burying today, scoring on their first two drives of the day in winning a laugher over the Washington Redskins, 31-7. Despite missing three-fifths of their starting offensive line and their two stud receivers (Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks), the Giants simply turned to their ground game to pummel the Redskins into submission. In scoring for the first time on an opening drive this season, New York rode their bruising tailback Brandon Jacobs (8 carries for 103 yards) right down the field for an early 7-0 lead. The Skins’ defense was equally helpless in the Giants’ second possession. This time, speedy back-up running back Ahmad Bradshaw (25 carries for 97 yards) did most of the damage, scoring from four yards out to give New York a comfortable 14-0 lead after one quarter.

The onslaught continued into the second quarter. Bradshaw’s second rushing score from ten yards out increased the margin to 21-0 at halftime. Jacob’s 28-yard gallop through a gaping hole built the lead to 28-0. The rout was on. The Redskins only score of the day came on a 33-yard scoring pass from quarterback Donovan McNabb (26 of 44 for 296 yards) to wideout Anthony Armstrong. After ex-Redskin Devin Thomas, playing on his third team of the season, blocked a Hunter Smith punt, Giants’ placekicker Lawrence Tynes’ 28-yard field goal completed the scoring at 31-7.

The Skins knew that the shorthanded Giants’ offense would run the ball right at them. And with the $100,000,000 Tub of Goo Albert Haynesworth once again deactivated, Washington still could not stop the run. Six turnovers did not help. Four different Redskins lost fumbles. McNabb threw a pair of interceptions. He was sacked four times. Meanwhile, Eli Manning (15 of 25 for 161 yards with one redzone interception to London Fletcher) was not sacked.

Pic’s Perspective: Today’s lackluster effort was the worst road stinker of the season for a Skins’ team that had been competitive in five of its six previous losses. (The Monday Night Massacre vs. Philly was an even bigger dog, no pun intended.) Has the team quit? It looked like they were beaten today after the opening drive. When you know what a team is going to do and still can’t stop them, that takes the heart right out of you. The Haynesworth situation must be addressed. He played sparingly a week ago at home in the loss to Minnesota with stomach pains. Watching him stand on the sidelines for no explainable reason today in his Bronx-size parka gave me stomach pains. Sixteen tackles after nine games. Over one million dollars per tackle. Not bad money in a down economy if you find some NFL exec stupid enough to give it to you……. The Skins actually ran the ball capably today (16 rushes for 74 yards). But not nearly enough to make McNabb any threat in play-action. Opposing teams are catching on. Defensive schemes just don’t take the fake seriously. And if you eliminate the long bomb from the Skins’ arsenal, their O is downright Offensive…..McNabb’s fumble and first pick were hurtful. But the aging quarterback is not the sole problem for the Skins’ scoring woes. Santana Moss’ two meaningless receptions were in the fourth quarter when the game was well decided. Anthony Armstrong shows flashes but can not be called a “go-to” guy. His unforced fumble was a backbreaker. The offensive line is in shambles and provides little to no pass protection……Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will likely be fired before the 3/4 defensive scheme is a 2011 factor. He will be the rightful scapegoat for the league’s worst statistical defense……My preseason prediction of 7-9 would mean a .500 finish in the last four. Who do the Skins beat? Next week the upstart Tampa Bay Bucs (7-5) come to Fed Ex field. Road games in Texas and Florida after that won’t be easy. The Dallas Cowboys would be a perfect 4-0 under Jason Garrett if Roy Williams could have held on to the ball late against the champion Saints a week ago. The Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5) are another pleasant surprise and suddenly the favorites to win the AFC South. The wheels could be completely off the Shanahan bandwagon by the time the G-Men roll into town for the finale. With the Eagles playing so well in the NFC East, it is unlikely New York will be able to rest their key starters in that  regular season swansong. More bad news for the Skins. Suddenly 7-9 is looking like a December pipe dream.

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