HERNDON, Va. -- Joe Gibbs is on a roll.
The Washington Redskins coach enjoyed the open date last weekend by celebrating a victory.
Gibbs took a busman's holiday Saturday and watched his son, Coy, play linebacker for a Stanford team that beat Southern California for only the fourth time in 33 years, 27-24.
Gibbs said Coy played well and that he watched his son instead of the ball.
"That was a great game. I watched him. I'm a dad. I don't care what happened to the ball. It's my son. It's the only thing that's important out there," he said.
Asked whether he second-guesses the coaches while he watches his son play, he said with a smile, "I'm a good fan."
He added, "I'll be a good fan someday, too. I won't be like you guys."
If the Redskins keep playing the way they've been this year, it'll be a long time before Gibbs is going to become a fan, unless you count cheering for his NASCAR team next year.
Gibbs, though, always seems worried, and he has good reason to be concerned this week because he's facing the toughest assignment of the year. He takes the Redskins to Giants Stadium, where he hasn't posted a non-strike victory since 1983, to face a team that's 9-1 in the past 10 non-strike games against the Redskins.
The Giants beat the Redskins three times in 1986 and twice each in 1989 and 1990. The Redskins won both games in 1987, but one was a strike game.
Although the Redskins are off to a 7-0 start this year after beginning each of the previous three seasons 4-3, they haven't played the Giants yet.
The previous three years, they've been 4-1 against the rest of the teams in their first seven games but lost two of their first seven to the Giants.
In effect, those two losses knocked the Redskins out of the race for the division title. The Redskins missed the playoffs in 1988 and 1989 and got a wild-card berth last year.
Now the tables are seemingly turned. It's the Giants who have started out 4-3. A Redskins victory Sunday would put the Giants four games behind and all but knock them out of contention for a division title.
But when a New York writer suggested yesterday that a Redskins victory would "bury" the Giants, Gibbs disputed the point.
"I don't think we'll bury them. I'd say that's a poor choice of words. Real poor. I wouldn't say that's putting them away. I'd say that's what it is, a four-game lead, nothing more, nothing less," he said.
Gibbs did concede that a Redskins victory would be "a big jump at this point in the season," but added, "I don't know how to compute all that."
Even though the Giants have won six straight from the Redskins, they've usually been close, tense games. The Giants' string has included four victories by a total of 11 points -- one, three, three and four points.
"They made a play when they had to have it and we didn't," Gibbs said. "That's the difference. I certainly don't have an answer other than that. We've played some hard-fought games, and they've always seemed to come out on top."
Since both teams are coming off an open date, it's difficult to tell whether either will have an edge. The Redskins practiced yesterday for only the second time since they beat the Cleveland Browns eight days ago. Gibbs gave them extra time off for starting 7-0.
Gibbs, meanwhile, is trying to make this like a normal week.
"I didn't give them very much [of the game plan] today," he said. "I wanted it to be a regular workweek starting Wednesday. I think everybody had a good attitude."
The players, meanwhile, say they're not psyched out by all the losses to the Giants.
"I don't think there's any doubt we can beat them," center Jeff Bostic said.
But they haven't done it.
Defensive end Charles Mann, who has only three sacks against the Giants in the six games from 1988 to 1990, said: "Have we lost nine out of 10 [to the Giants]? Wow! I never even knew that. I knew we lost a lot of them. Wow, that's pretty impressive. You use whatever you can to motivate your players and motivate yourself. We got to throw that in the pot now that you brought it up."
Even though the Giants have a new coach, Ray Handley, who's installed a new quarterback, Jeff Hostetler, Mann doesn't see much change in the Giants.
"I see the same team, [except] the names change," Mann said. "Their philosophy is very similar. He's [Bill Parcells] only been gone six months or whatever, and the coach that took over was already there anyway."
NOTES: S Terry Hoage, who broke his arm a week ago against the Browns, has been placed on IR. Because the Redskins have used 2 of their 5 moves off IR, they haven't decided whether to use a third this week to bring back S Alvin Walton. In effect, that would leave them with 1 move because they've got to save 1 for QB Cary Conklin if he's needed.