WASHINGTON -- Coach Norv Turner found out last night that it's tough to beat the odds.
Spurning a field goal that would have left the Redskins within a touchdown of winning, Turner decided to gamble for the first down.
But the play misfired and the Redskins lost the ball and the game, 24-15, before 53,310 fans at RFK Stadium last night to drop to 3-6.
The Redskins, who didn't allow the Giants a first down in the second half until the final minute, , got the ball right back by forcing the Giants to punt with 5:49 left.
If Turner had taken the field goal, the Redskins would have needed only a touchdown to win. Instead, they needed two scores, and when Gus Frerotte threw deep to Olanda Truitt, Thomas Randolph yanked it out of his hands for the interception that was the Redskins' fifth turnover and wrapped it up.
The Giants parlayed four of the turnovers into a 24-3 lead in the first half and led 24-6 at halftime. But the Redskins dominated the second half until that pivotal fourth-down play.
With Henry Ellard sidelined with a pulled hamstring, Turner called for Frerotte to throw a quick pass to Leslie Shepherd.
When Frerotte saw that Shepherd was being held -- the officials didn't call it -- Frerotte tried to go to another receiver (Tydus Winans said he was open for a touchdown), but was sacked.
Turner said that Frerotte should have thrown it to Shepherd even though he was held because the officials are more likely to make the call when the ball is thrown.
"He just got grabbed. If Gus had it to do over again, when a guy gets held, instead of holding the ball and looking for someone else, you throw it to him and you count on getting the penalty call when it's man-to-man coverage. He comes off to the next guy, they're on a blitz and he has no chance," Turner said.
Frerotte agreed he should have thrown it when he saw Shepherd being held.
"I'd definitely like that one back," he said.
Explaining why he didn't go for the field goal, Turner, who said it was really fourth-and-two, said, "You go back and forth. I thought there we'd get it, go in there and get the touchdown. You'd like to get the touchdown first and get the ball in two minutes with an opportunity to kick the field goal further out."
It wasn't surprising that the Giants didn't think Shepherd was held on the play.
"Willie Beamon made a great play because they were trying to get a slant and he took away the inside and forced Gus to pull the ball down and we had a good enough rush that we were able to get to him," coach Dan Reeves said.
Frerotte, who had a sore back after being hit from behind by Jamal Duff on a failed two-point conversion attempt, completed 22 of 44 passes for 345 yards but was intercepted four times.
The Giants' first two touchdowns were set up by interceptions on a tipped pass and a batted ball.
On the fifth play of the game, Marc Logan bobbled a pass and tipped it three times. He even tried to bat it down, but it bounced right into the arms of Vencie Glenn, who ran 75 yards for a touchdown.
"That's one I normally catch every time," Logan said. "I guess I took my eyes off the ball."
The Giants then turned the ball over twice on fumbles by Rodney Hampton and Brian Kozlowski sandwiched around a Phillippi Sparks interception.
After the teams exchanged punts, Duff batted a Frerotte pass on a second-and-seven play from the New York 32 into the arms of defensive end Mike Strahan, who went 62 yards down the left sideline before Terry Allen hauled him down on the 2.
Rookie Tyrone Wheatley scored to make it 14-3, and Dave Brown's 57-yard touchdown pass to Mike Sherrard when safety Stanley Richard busted the coverage on a three-deep zone boosted the margin to 21-3.
Glenn then stripped the ball out of Winans' arms after he caught a 16-yard pass at the New York 28 to set up a Brad Daluiso 31-yard field goal that made it 24-3 with 1:06 left in the first half.
"We self-destructed both offensively and defensively," cornerback Darrell Green said.
"We didn't play Redskin football at all. This loss sets us back from where we wanted to go with this season."
Eddie Murray's 52-yard field goal at the end of the first half set the stage for the Redskins' second-half comeback that fell short when the fourth-down gamble went awry.
The former NFC East powers, shadows of their past Super Bowl selves, had trouble stopping each other, but frequently stopped themselves. But that didn't bother Brown.
"If we win ugly every week, I'll be happy," Brown said. "I don't care."