EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In this era of high-tech, scientific football, the old psychological tricks from Knute Rockne's time still seem to work.
At least Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs seems to think they do and the Redskins may have proved it by clobbering the New York Giants, 28-10, yesterday before 62,998 at Giants Stadium.
Trying to recover the Super Bowl form of a year ago, Gibbs showed the players the 1991 highlight film called "March to Minneapolis" at their hotel Saturday night.
That's a hokey and corny ploy for 1992, but it may not have been a coincidence that the Redskins did seem to steal a page from last year's playbook against the Giants.
Just five weeks ago, the Giants hammered the Redskins, 24-7, at RFK Stadium while holding Earnest Byner to 32 yards.
This time, the Redskins dominated the line of scrimmage as Byner ran for 100 yards -- just his second 100-yard game of the year -- and Ricky Ervins added 68 yards.
Meanwhile, Mark Rypien had plenty of time to throw and completed 15 of 18 for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
He came close to a perfect day as two of his incomplete passes were drops by Ricky Sanders, who caught five, and Ervins. The only other miss was a third-quarter pass over the middle to Art Monk in traffic that would have been a good catch had Monk held onto it.
All this was just the way the Redskins were last year, although Gibbs seemed sheepish about trying to motivate his team with his "Saturday Night at the Movies" showing. He said jokingly, "It's a lot better than me talking, I figured that out."
He added: "We thought it might be good for the guys to go back and review last year and how we were together. Hey, we've been through a lot of adversity."
Gibbs had shown the team the film in training camp and when he introduced it Saturday night, he said the guys who missed it -- holdouts Rypien, Darrell Green and Jim Lachey -- could see it this time.
"Ryp and I sort of looked at each other, Darrell peeked back at me and I'm like, 'OK, we're going to watch this film,' " Lachey said. "I've seen it before, but it is good to watch it as a team. Maybe we have to model ourselves after that highlight film."
Ricky Sanders said, "It brought back a lot of memories. I think that was a good move on Coach Gibbs' part to let everybody see what we looked like last year."
"For whatever reason, I think that [film] gave us our inspiration," Rypien said. "He [Gibbs] said, 'Here's what we feel we can do and we still have ahead of us to get done.' For some of us who didn't see it, it was kind of nice to see. It's a feeling that maybe we need to get back."
Rypien thinks it was a reminder the team needed.
"Sometimes as a group, you kind of collectively think, 'Oh, gosh, this maybe isn't our year.' But then you look back and you figure to yourself, here's the same group of guys and we've got everybody healthy and we can still do the job. We can still reaffirm our beliefs," Rypien said.
The Giants were impressed with the way the Redskins played.
Safety Lamar McGriggs said: "The Skins are starting to play sharp and I believe they will get even sharper. Do not count them out of anything."
The Redskins might have to put an asterisk next to the victory, though. These were not the Giants of five weeks ago because Lawrence Taylor, sidelined on Nov. 8 with a torn Achilles' tendon, didn't play. It's probably not a coincidence that the Giants have lost four straight since.
The Redskins noticed the difference. Sanders said: "LT's a big part of their defense. They structure it around him. Without him in there, there's not as much force coming up the field. You have to put two or three guys on him. Without him, you need just one guy. That really helped."
Rypien said: "For four or five years now, he's been a guy who's been a thorn in my side and all our sides. It's unfortunate it had to be because of an injury, but it really didn't hurt my feelings at all he wasn't in there."
Lachey, who never gave up a sack to Taylor, said: "Any time your defense is missing a guy who's only the greatest linebacker to ever play [it makes a difference]. Every time we had to have a special scheme for LT. I slept a little bit better last night."
Their offense worked better yesterday as they put together four long touchdown drives -- one in each quarter. This was nothing fancy. They won it in the trenches.
The Redskins marched 52 yards in nine plays and 96 yards in 14 plays for their two first-half touchdowns as Byner ran 1 and 11 yards for the scores.
The Giants got a 43-yard field goal by Ken Willis in the second period to cut the deficit to 14-3, and Rodney Hampton's 1-yard touchdown run in the third period made it 14-10. But the Redskins put together two more touchdown marches of 80 yards in eight plays and 63 yards in five plays to win the game.
Rypien capped those two drives with touchdown passes of 20 yards to tight end Terry Orr and 42 yards to Art Monk, his only catch of the game.
On Orr's play, Rypien faked a bootleg left. It was supposed to be a short pass, but Orr was covered early, but broke free deep. On the Monk pass, Rypien called an audible because the Giants defense would have stopped the original play. Monk got a step on Mark Collins, who tripped before the ball arrived, and caught the touchdown pass to wrap it up.
The one thing the victory didn't do was gain the Redskins ground in the playoff race. With an 8-5 record, they're still tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for the final two playoff spots. They're both one game ahead of the 7-6 Green Bay Packers.
In their final three games, the Redskins play host to the Dallas Cowboys and then go to Philadelphia before wrapping up the season with a home game the day after Christmas against the Los Angeles Raiders.
Even though the Redskins are starting to resemble last year's form, they won't say they're back.
As Green said: "In terms of being back, if we're in the playoffs, we're back. That means you're one of the elite teams. You can't be back until you get there."
NFL Week 14
Redskins 28 .. .. Giants 10
Browns 37 .. .. ..Bengals 21
Packers 38 .. .. Lions 10
Colts 6 .. .. .. Patriots 0
Eagles 28 .. .. ..Vikings 17
Jets 24 .. .. .. Bills 17
Steelers 20 .. .. Seahawks 14
Cowboys 31 .. .. Broncos 27
Raiders 28 .. .. Chiefs 7
49ers .. .. .. .. 27 Dolphins 3
Chargers 27 .. .. Cardinals 21
Rams 31 .. .. .. Buccaneers 27