Barber rushes for 234 as Giants hold on

New York all but assures itself of playoff berth

Giants 34 Redskins 28

December 31, 2006|By Don Markus | Don Markus,sun reporter

LANDOVER // The Washington Redskins were the teamtrying to salvage one last morsel of satisfaction out of their long lost season, and the New York Giants were the team trying to hang on to their quickly unraveling playoff hopes.

Playing for the postseason still trumps playing for pride, even to a team in the midst of a tumultuous second-half collapse.

Tiki Barber, who has announced that he will likely retire after the season, did his best to extend what could be a Hall of Fame career for at least another game, possibly saved coach Tom Coughlin?s job and gave Joe Gibbs one last nightmare in a wild 34-28 defeat for the Redskins last night at FedEx Field.

Barber rushed for a career-high and franchise-record 234 yards on 23 carries. He scored three touchdowns, including a 55-yarder in the second quarter and a 50-yarder after the Redskins closed a 20-point deficit to six with 9:25 left. It was only the second victory in the past eight games for the 8-8 Giants.

While the win all but wrapped up a wild-card spot for the Giants, the defeat finished off the worst season in Gibbs? Hall of Fame career. At 5-11, the Redskins equaled the record that led to Steve Spurrier?s resignation ?and Gibbs? return ? after the 2003 season.

Since Gibbs came back, the Redskins are 21-27 in the regular season.

Second-year quarterback Jason Campbell was briefly knocked out of the game in the second quarter and threw an interception early in the second half, but came back to lead the Redskins from a 27-7 deficit to within six points midway through the fourth quarter.

While Barber had his second game over 200 yards against the Redskins, and scored three touchdowns against Washington for the second time this season, Ladell Betts finished with 92 yards on 20 carries, failing to set a team record with what could have been his sixth straight game over 100 yards.

It did little to salvage a disappointing finish to a disastrous season, given the expectations that accompanied the Redskins after finishing 10-6 last year and making the second round of the playoffs.

Trailing 27-7, Campbell led the Redskins on a seven-play, 69-yard scoring drive that included a 15-yard scramble on third-andeight from the Giants? 28 and a touchdown pass to Betts with 2:07 left in the third quarter on fourth-and-four from the 7-yard line.

After stopping the Giants, the Redskins continued their comeback. With Campbell looking sharper with each pass, the Redskins went on a nine-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by T.J.

Duckett. On the two scoring drives, Campbell was 9-for-9 for 112 yards passing.

Barber silenced the crowd with the 50-yarder to help make it 34-21, but Campbell and the Redskins weren?t done. A 34-yard screen pass to Betts helped set up a 1-yard touchdown pass from Campbell to fullback Mike Sellers to cut Washington?s deficit to 34-28 with 3:22 remaining.

The Redskins had one last chance. After holding Barber to seven yards on third-and-10 from the Giants? 28, Washington got the ball on its own 22 with 2:18 remaining. But Campbell threw short to Betts in the flat on first down, and overthrew David Patten along the sideline on second down.

On third down, with 2:07 remaining, Campbell missed Patten over the middle.

On fourth down, Campbell looked to have hooked up with Antwaan Randle El at the 40, but safety Gibril Wilson got his fingertips on the ball to break it up.

The game, and the season, would soon be over for the Redskins.

At the start of the game, the Redskins picked up where they left off in St. Louis, moving the ball with ease but giving it up after a fumble by Betts.

In this case, what had the makings of a neatly executed 73-yard drive ended abruptly when Betts was hit by linebacker Brandon Short on second-and-four. Defensive end Osi Yumenyiora scooped up the ball and chugged 67 yards before being brought down by wide receiver James Thrash.

The Giants couldn?t take full advantage, but went ahead 3-0 on a 34-yard field goal by Jay Feely.

New York?s lead didn?t last long, as the Redskins punched their way into Giants territory behind Betts and then scored on a 48-yard flea flicker from Randle El to Moss, who caught what looked more like a punt between cornerbacks Sam Madison and CoreyWebster.

It was Randle El?s first touchdown pass as a Redskin and the fourth of his career for the former Indiana quarterback, the previous one coming in last year?s Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Randle El had completed a 40-yard pass to fellow wide-out Brandon Lloyd earlier in the season.

Unfortunately for the Redskins, their defense continued to selfdestruct.

After a short punt fromDerrick Frost gave the Giants possession at the Washington 42, Barber started and finished a seven-play drive, his 15-yard touchdown run helping the Giants take a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.

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