Giants play take-away in rout of Redskins N.Y. rides 6 turnovers to NFC East title, 30-10

December 14, 1997|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jeff Hostetler had caught the New York Giants' larcenous act once before this season. That experience ended in an unsightly tie for the Washington Redskins. This one ended in utter embarrassment.

For the second time in three weeks, the Giants picked Hostetler's pockets clean, and this time the Redskins limped home from the Meadowlands with a desultory 30-10 loss.

Hostetler, the Redskins' reserve quarterback pressed into starter's duty a week ago because of Gus Frerotte's fractured hip, threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in yesterday's rematch against the Giants.

In a 7-7 tie on Nov. 23, he was guilty of three interceptions and another lost fumble. The math works out to nine turnovers -- including seven interceptions -- in two games against his old team.

"He made some throws, he had some tough plays, he competes," Redskins coach Norv Turner said, hardly an endorsement of Hostetler's performance.

It was a day when the numbers spoke more loudly than anything the Redskins could say.

While the overachieving Giants (9-5-1) clinched their first NFC East division title since 1990, the Redskins (7-7-1) saw their season slide deeper into playoff peril.

It will take a lot more than a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17 to get Washington back in the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

Of Turner's 37 defeats since taking the Redskins job in 1994, this may have been the toughest to swallow, or at least the cruelest, although the coach wasn't counting.

"It's a disappointing defeat," he said. "I don't like any of them. I don't know how to rate them."

What the Giants didn't take, the Redskins gave. New York

cashed in six turnovers and a dropped snap on an attempted punt for 20 points -- the difference in the game. To say the Giants forced all these turnovers was a stretch, however, because the Redskins were more than charitable.

On the third play of the game, for instance, Hostetler couldn't get a handoff safely into running back Stephen Davis' hands. Fumble. Giants field goal. The Giant landslide began.

On the Redskins' second possession, punter Matt Turk, standing inside his 25, butchered Dan Turk's long snap. "I either took my eye off it too soon, or dropped it," the punter said.

The Giants got possession at the Redskins' 16. Two plays later, after fullback Charles Way ran over safeties Stanley Richard and Jesse Campbell for a 15-yard touchdown, the Giants were up 10-0. It was as close as the Redskins would be the rest of the day.

"We didn't give ourselves a chance," Turner said. "You have two fumbles in the first quarter without contact. The ball is on the ground; you're not going to beat anybody doing that. We knew what kind of game it was going to be and we can't spot a team points."

The Redskins came in wanting to run the ball. But when Giants quarterback Danny Kanell threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chris Calloway on the next possession, it was 17-0 and there would be no running game.

There would be a lot of bad feelings, though.

"We found ourselves down 17 points, so we had to change everything," said Washington's Joe Patton, who moved from tackle to guard when Tre Johnson (shoulder) couldn't go.

"That team didn't beat us today; we beat ourselves. They did what they needed to do and we gave them the biggest boost that anybody could ever give a team of that caliber. That team shouldn't have beat us today."

Things deteriorated in the second half after Hostetler (23-for-42 for 288 yards) threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Albert Connell to bring Washington within 20-10. There were four turnovers -- two by each team -- in a chaotic 2: 06 span in the third quarter.

"They're opportunistic, that's for sure," Hostetler said of the Giants. "When the ball bounced, they were there picking it up."

For what it was worth -- and it wasn't much -- the Redskins had more first downs and 80 more total yards than the Giants.

But the Giants had the look of a team that had greatly exceeded the modest expectations placed on it at the beginning of the season.

Coming off a 6-10 effort a year ago, with a new coach in Jim Fassel, hardly anyone expected the Giants to contend in the East, let alone win the division.

"The sweetest thing about this is, it's like you're in a fight and nobody gives you a chance and you go out and win," said defensive end Michael Strahan.

The victory assured the Giants of a home playoff game this season. The loss left the Redskins muttering about playoff odds.

"I've love to see that team again," Patton said. "We can beat them."

Pub Date: 12/14/97

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