EAST RUTHERFORD,N.J. — EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- This is almost getting to be Twilight Zone stuff now.
There can be almost no rational explanation for the way the Washington Redskins keep losing to the New York Giants.
"It seems like it's the same script for every game," tackle Jim Lachey said after the Redskins lost their sixth straight game to the Giants, 21-10, yesterday at Giants' Stadium.
It always seems to come down to one big, inexplicable play in the fourth quarter. Two weeks ago, it was a punt that hit Johnny Thomas' leg. allowing the Giants to recover.
Yesterday, it was a pass by Stan Humphries right into the arms of Earnest Byner, who was wide open in the end zone with 6 minutes, 51 seconds left in the game.
A catch would have given the Redskins the lead and put the pressure on the Giants .
But the ball bounced off Byner's chest into the arms of Greg Jackson, who held onto it for an interception.
Humphries suggested he threw the ball too hard, but it was right into Byner's arms.
Byner has his own haunted past. He was guilty of critical mistakes in three losing playoff games when he played for the Cleveland Browns, including his fourth-quarter fumble in the American Football Conference title game after the 1987 season in Denver.
Now he's part of the legacy of the Redskins' frustration against the Giants. Last year in his first game in Washington, he dropped a pass on the goal line.
The Redskins can only wonder how many times this can keep happening to them against the Giants. They can only wonder why the gods of football are so cruel to them.
Byner declined to comment. Wide receivers Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, and Art Monk was quick to leave the dressing room.
But the other Redskins kept looking for answers. The easy explanation is that the Giants are the better team, but it defies the laws of probability that the Giants can pull out so many close games.
Tight end Jimmie Johnson, "I try not to be superstitious, but it's hard [not] to be with the Giants and the Redskins. All the games have been very close and they've all been determined by a big play here or there and they've all been in favor of the Giants."
The Redskins do everything but win against the Giants.
"I think we've outrushed them. I think we've thrown the ball on them. We've outhit them, outhustled them and done everything but outscore them," Johnson said.
Defensive lineman Charles Mann wonders if it's not a confidence problem for the Redskins.
"[It's like] growing up, you had somebody you were good friends with, but you always had their number. After a while, it just begins to be a confidence thing. They're very confident when they play us. They know they have to play us hard, but they feel in the final analysis, they're going to get the win. They don't know how it's going to come, but one way or another, they're going to get it," Mann said.
DTC The Redskins don't have that feeling.
"For us, we know we can beat them, but maybe we always have that ounce of doubt in the very back of our minds that, hey, something is going to happen and they're going to pull it out. I think that could be the difference right now. All it takes is one win, though, and the jinx is gone," he said.
The victory gave the unbeaten Giants a 7-0 record and a three-game lead -- a four-game margin if you count the head-to-head tie-breaker -- over the 4-3 Redskins in the National Football Conference Eastern Division race.
The Redskins know what they means. "Right now, we have to shoot for a wild card [playoff spot]. There's no chance we can get a division [title] unless they drop four of the next nine," Johnson said.
But the Redskins are still undaunted.
"Each one [loss] gets worse, but I'd still like to get another shot at them," guard Russ Grimm said.
As one of only four winning teams in the NFC, the Redskins still have an excellent shot at a wild-card berth.
But since the Giants are their division, they can only play the Giants again in the NFC title game.
That could happen only if the Redskins first win two playoff games and one of them likely would be on the road against the San Francisco 49ers.
Not that a third game against the Giants would be a panacea.
Cornerback Everson Walls, who intercepted two passes from Humphries, remembers when he was with the Dallas Cowboys in 1986 when the Giants met the Redskins a third time in the NFC title game.
"In the playoffs for the third game, I figured if I was going to put money down, the Redskins would have to win this ball game," Walls said.
They didn't. They've lost nine of the last 10 non-strike games to the Giants.
Even Walls said he was concerned before the game.
"Obviously, the odds have to catch up with us one time. It just so happens it never does [happen]," he said.
After the interception by Jackson, the Redskins had one more chance to come back when the Giants punted and the Redskins took over on their 19 with 5:13.
Three plays later, Walls read a Humphries pass to Art Monk, intercepted it and ran 28 yards for the first touchdown of his long career to wrap it up.
The Giants seemed set for a lopsided victory after Phil Simms threw a pair of second-period touchdown passes to give the Giants a 14-0 lead.
They had a shot at going up 21-0 when they marched to the Washington 17 late in the second period, but a holding call on William Roberts and a call on Simms for throwing an illegal forward pass over the line of scrimmage pushed the Giants back to the Redskins' 27.
The Giants tried a fake field goal, with holder Jeff Hostetler throwing to Lawrence Taylor,in the end zone, but Alvoid Mays broke up the pass.