Smith, Redskins sack Giants in 20-7 win

Defensive end achieves NFL all-time sack mark as team ends 3-game skid

NFL Week 14

December 08, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Bruce Smith and the Washington Redskins got what they so desperately wanted.

Smith broke the NFL record for career sacks with his 199th, and the Redskins staved off a mounting tide of frustration and criticism by defeating the New York Giants, 20-7, yesterday at Giants Stadium for only their second win in nine games.

The victory meant little except that Washington (5-8) beat New York (4-9) for only the second time in the teams' past seven meetings. Less than half of the announced attendance of 78,217 bothered to show up, much less stay for the duration of the game.

Still, yesterday's contest at least will be special for Smith, whose sack of New York backup quarterback Jesse Palmer with 8:22 left in the fourth quarter vaulted the defensive end past Reggie White, who had 198 sacks.

Smith, who was doused with cold water by his teammates and wore in the locker room a burgundy velvet robe with the words "ALL TIME" sewn in gold across the front given to him by his tailor, took enormous gratification from an achievement he has hunted for 19 NFL years.

"I know that I'm not second place any longer," said Smith, who was serenaded by his teammates with chants of "Ali Bomaye" -- a saying popularized by Muhammad Ali and George Foreman's famous "Rumble in the Jungle" boxing match in 1974. "When they print up football cards, they won't say, `second to such and such' or `second to so and so.' "

Said Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who collected two sacks yesterday and has 109.5 for his career: "It's a record of longevity, a record of consistency, and it epitomizes everything that he is. ... There's nobody like him."

Redskins coach Steve Spurrier - who has not enjoyed a warm relationship with Smith - offered a quizzical response about Smith's accomplishment.

Asked to describe Smith's impact as a player, Spurrier replied, "Well, he's one of our defensive ends. He plays about half the time, and he's been a good leader and a good veteran player. It was nice that he was able to set the record today."

Smith's accomplishment capped a stirring effort from a Washington defense that had coughed up fourth-quarter leads in the team's past three games - all losses.

The defense recorded six total sacks, forced two fumbles and an interception, and limited New York's offense to just 220 net yards.

It didn't hurt that Smith knocked Giants quarterback Kerry Collins (5-for-14 for 62 yards) out of the game in the third quarter when officials failed to whistle the play dead because of a delay-of-game penalty and Smith hit Collins and rolled onto his left ankle.

On a day when a swirling wind blew up to 15 mph and made it feel like 15 degrees on the field, the Redskins abandoned Spurrier's Fun 'N' Gun system and ran the ball a season-high 48 times for 150 yards.

"It was a game where you hoped to run enough and hit a few here and there," Spurrier said of the offense's ground attack, which helped contribute to 288 yards of total offense. "We didn't make a lot of yards ... but for those weather conditions, to make about 280 or so was pretty doggone good."

The win also gave Tim Hasselbeck his first career victory as an NFL quarterback.

Hasselbeck completed 13 of 19 passes for just 154 yards and tossed two touchdown passes.

"I've had to beat myself up over certain plays over the last two weeks, and I heard people saying, `Well, for being here five weeks, I guess it's a pretty good job,' " Hasselbeck said. "I didn't want to hear that. I wanted to hear, `That's a good job' regardless of how long somebody was here."

NOTES: Running back Trung Canidate, who gained 69 yards on 19 carries, left the game in the third quarter with what he called a "mid-foot sprain" of his left foot. His status, as well as that of linebacker LaVar Arrington (sprained knee) and running back Ladell Betts (re-injured forearm), is unclear.

Next for Redskins

Matchup:Dallas Cowboys (8-5) vs. Washington Redskins (5-8)

Site:FedEx Field, Landover

When:Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

TV/Radio:Ch. 5/WNAV (1430 AM), WJFK (106.7 FM)

Line:Cowboys by 1

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