EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There is no statute of limitations in the New York Giants' domination of the Washington Redskins.
The Giants win here, they win there. They win with big-play offense and big-play defense. They win on sheer brilliance and sometimes on sheer luck.
They beat the Redskins again yesterday. This time it was 21-10 -- a virtual blowout by this series' standards -- and nobody in the crowd of 75,321 left Giants Stadium surprised.
That makes six in a row over the Redskins. More indicative of their dominance, the Giants have won nine of the last 10 non-strike meetings and 11 of the last 13.
In a rivalry that is competitive in nature but lopsided in outcome, the Redskins know their role by heart. They play the Washington Generals to the Giants' Harlem Globetrotters. Second-best every time.
In yesterday's replay, Redskins running back Earnest Byner and quarterback Stan Humphries shared the lead role of goat.
It was Humphries' misfortune to throw three interceptions against the Giants for the second time in three weeks. Like other Redskin quarterbacks who tempted fate in the Meadowlands, he left the game in a daze.
It was Byner's misfortune to muff a pass on the game's most critical play, a fourth-quarter miscue that crushed the Redskins' best chance at victory.
In the end, the Giants (7-0) assumed a seemingly insurmountable three-game lead (plus tiebreaker) in the NFC East. The disconsolate Redskins (4-3) assumed the position of wild-card contender.
"I'm not ready to concede anything yet," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said stubbornly. Then, acknowledging the obvious, he added, "It'll be very hard for us to get it [the division title], but who knows?"
The Giants know. Or seem to.
"Coming in if you said we'd be three up after seven [games], I'd have said you were crazy," said Phil Simms, Giants quarterback and the Redskins' chief tormentor. "The main thing now is to take advantage of that and keep going."
Simms threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter to get off to a 14-0 lead. Stephen Baker scored a 4-yard touchdown off a slant pattern that drew two penalties against cornerback Brian Davis, one for pass interference and another for unnecessary roughness. Six minutes later Simms caught the Redskins in run defense and slipped a 16-yard TD strike to tight end Mark Bavaro. That score came at the expense of rookie linebacker Andre Collins.
Then, for some inexplicable reason, the Giants offense went into a shell. And the Redskins came out, throwing to their tight ends. And the game almost turned. Almost, but not quite.
Washington got within 14-10 on a 45-yard field goal by Chip Lohmiller and a 5-yard touchdown run by Humphries. When the Giants' Ottis Anderson was stuffed on fourth-and-one at the Washington 45 early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins appeared ready to mend their losing ways.
Byner pushed the Skins to the New York 35 with an 11-yard run. Ricky Sanders put them at the 16 with an 11-yard catch. And Art Monk put them at the 3 with a 10-yard reception over the middle.
But first-and-goal at the Giant 3 quickly turned into another nightmare. Gerald Riggs went nowhere on first down. On second down, Humphries faked a handoff to Riggs, looked for tight end Jimmie Johnson and discovered Byner wide open at the goal line.
His pass bounced off Byner's chest, though, and a certain touchdown became a back-breaker when safety Greg Jackson picked off the ricochet.
Byner had few words and no time for post-game chitchat. "You saw it," he said.
Humphries made a valiant attempt to cover for the veteran running back.
"I threw it pretty hard for that short a distance," he said. "Sometimes you have to put a little touch on it."
But didn't you hit him in the chest?
"We'll have to look at films," the evasive Humphries said.
Humphries didn't need a film study to know he made a poor choice on the next series when he was intercepted by Everson Walls, who returned the errant pass 28 yards for the clinching touchdown with 4:34 left. That pass was intended for Monk. Humphries, 2-2 as a starter since replacing injured Mark Rypien, didn't see the touchdown, though. He was knocked woozy from a shot by linebacker Gary Reasons and finished the game on the bench.
The Redskins finished the game puzzling over their inability to beat the Giants.
"They're so confident," said defensive end Charles Mann of the Giants, "it's become a reality for them. I'm not saying we're not confident. But if you lost to a team six or seven times in a row . . . maybe that ounce of doubt is what's killing us."