HERNDON,VA. — HERNDON, Va. -- It's a question that is haunting the Washington Redskins these days: Why can't they beat the New York Giants?
The Giants have won seven of the past eight non-strike games from the Redskins, beating them three times in 1986 and sweeping both games the past two years.
Their inability to beat the Giants helped cost the Redskins a playoff berth the past two years.
The strange thing is that the games usually are close, but the Giants still dominate the series. The Giants' last three victories // have come by a total of seven points -- 24-23, 27-24 and 20-17.
Now the Redskins are preparing to play the Giants on Sunday at RFK Stadium in their first of two meetings in a 15-day span.
The games don't get much bigger than this. The Giants will come in with a 4-0 record -- one of two unbeaten teams in the National Football League. The San Francisco 49ers are the other.
The Redskins (3-1) have won eight of their past nine games, including the last five last season.
As they prepare for this meeting, the Redskins haven't had an easy time finding an answer for their problems against the Giants.
"You can't always have an answer," cornerback Darrell Green.
Safety Todd Bowles said: "There's no particular reason. They just made the extra play that we didn't make."
Coach Joe Gibbs said: "I can't give you an answer to that. I don't know why. I wish I knew why."
Defensive lineman Darryl Grant said, "They played better and executed better than we did."
"It's hard to put a finger on it," defensive lineman Charles Mann said.
The question now is whether the Giants now have an edge over the Redskins simply because they've beaten them so often recently.
Jeff Rutledge, who spent the past eight years with the Giants before signing with the Redskins as a Plan B free agent this year, said: "They felt like if they could keep it close, they were going to win at the end. They felt like the Redskins had to be doubting they could beat them. They felt like they pretty much had the Redskins' number."
It's not surprising that now that he's changed locker rooms, Rutledge says he doesn't think the Redskins are psyched by the Giants.
"I haven't heard any of that. You don't know what's in the back of somebody's mind, but I don't sense that at all," he said.
Green said he thinks one answer for the Redskins might be to stop talking about the Giants' domination.
"I think the thing that we should do is just the opposite of what I'm doing right now -- having this type of conversation with you, with ourselves or with anybody else. That's how this thing is built up. That's how it's able to grow and become something when it really isn't," he said.
One question that's easy to answer is what type of game it' likely to be. A Giants-Redskins game tends to be basic, no-frills football.
"It's a lot of pounding," Green said. "It's not a whole lot of pretty stuff. It's a lot of hard football."
Mann said: "These are the kinds of games you like. You're know they're not going to try to trick you. They're going to come out and play hard-nosed football."
NOTE: It was easy to tell the Redskins were preparing for a big game yesterday: Gibbs had staff members patrolling the bushes along the practice field to make sure nobody was spying on his team.