Running back Clinton Portis rushed for 148 yards, including a touchdown, and caught one of Patrick Ramsey's three touchdown passes for another as the Redskins thumped the Giants, 31-7, before a raucous crowd of 87,872 yesterday at FedEx Field.
The win ended a three-game losing streak for Washington (4-8), which became the last team in the league to break the 20-point mark in a game this season.
"I was so nervous before this game," said coach Joe Gibbs, whose beleaguered offense racked up 379 yards, compared with its pre-game season average of 256.2. "It was just one of those that you feel like is crucial, that we had to have it."
Losing four of the previous five games can have that effect, but the Redskins' dormant offense woke up against a New York defense that was missing four season-opener starters and three other players because of injuries.
Portis, who carried just six times for 17 yards in last week's 16-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, buried that memory by collecting 90 yards in the first half, capping the team's 93-yard opening drive with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone, and catching a 4-yard shovel pass from Ramsey to give Washington a 14-0 lead with 4:44 left in the second quarter.
Portis, who reminded everyone why the Redskins traded cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round pick in next year's draft for him, said Gibbs challenged him during practice last week.
"He said he was going to put it on my shoulders," said Portis, who surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. "Anytime you have a challenge and you have an opportunity to prepare for it, you've got to find a way to step forward."
Runs by Portis and backup Ladell Betts (11 carries for 64 yards) opened passing lanes for Ramsey (19-for-22 for 174 yards), who hit tight end Robert Royal from 9 yards with 41 seconds left in the second quarter and found tight end Chris Cooley from 6 yards with 11:42 left in the fourth period.
"This has been the most comfortable I've been in the pocket as a Redskin," said Ramsey, who was sacked only once, tied a career high of three touchdown passes he set against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 15, 2002, and finished with a 139.2 quarterback rating.
"I've felt that all season if we can just play consistently, we'll be a successful offense. Finally today, we were able to do that."
Like the offense, Washington's No. 2-ranked defense enjoyed its best showing as it confined the Giants to seven first downs (compared to the Redskins' 27) and 145 yards of total offense -- 177 fewer less than their season average.
Only a 92-yard kickoff return by Derrick Ward in the third quarter prevented Washington from securing a shutout.
The Redskins rattled rookie quarterback Eli Manning, allowing him to complete just 12 of 25 passes for 113 yards, leaving him with a 60.9 passer rating.
"We were actually mad in the third quarter because we didn't get to play that much and we wanted to go back out there and get a turnover off of Eli," said Redskins middle linebacker Antonio Pierce. "He's going to be a better quarterback, but you could tell that he was confused out there."
New York (5-7) suffered its fifth straight loss, and coach Tom Coughlin did not mince words about his team's performance. "Flat is not the word," he said. "We physically got whipped up front on both sides of the ball."
NOTES: Defensive end Phillip Daniels, who played for the first time in four weeks, broke his left wrist and will miss the rest of the season, Gibbs said. ... The Redskins did not commit a turnover for the third time this season. They were mistake-free against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 27 and against the Detroit Lions on Nov. 7.
Keys to the game
PORTIS' CONTRIBUTIONS: After averaging 18.2 carries and 70.4 yards in his previous five games, the Redskins' Clinton Portis erupted for 148 yards on 31 attempts. His ability to find holes in the Giants' defense was the key to controlling the clock.
BALL CONTROL: The Redskins easily won the time-of-possession battle, 40:29 to 19:31, and ran 68 plays on offense to New York's 41. Scoring three times on the first four possessions helped, too.
DOMINANT DEFENSE: After giving up more than 300 yards of offense in four of its previous five games, Washington limited New York by stacking as many as nine players in the box to shut off Tiki Barber (season-worst 38 rushing yards).
- Edward Lee
Next for Redskins
Matchup: Philadelphia Eagles (11-1) vs. Redskins (4-8)
Site: FedEx Field, Landover
When: Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: ESPN, Ch. 7/WNAV (1430 AM), WJFK (106.7 FM)
Line: Eagles by 9
N.Y. Giants 0 0 7 0-- 7
Washington 7 14 3 7--31
Was--Portis 1 run (Hall kick), 5:47.
Was--Portis 4 pass from Ramsey (Hall kick), 4:44.
Was--Royal 9 pass from Ramsey (Hall kick), :41.
Was--FG Hall 46, 5:38.
NY--Ward 92 kickoff return (Christie kick), 5:25.
Was--Cooley 6 pass from Ramsey (Hall kick), 11:42.
First downs 7 27
Total Net Yards 145 379
Rushes-yards 15-38 45-211
Passing 107 168
Punt Returns 2-24 1-5
Kickoff Returns 6-194 2-51
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 12-25-0 19-22-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 1-6 1-6
Punts 5-31.2 4-43.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 7-40 8-66
Time of Possession 19:31 40:29
Rushing--New York, Barber 15-38. Washington, Portis 31-148, Betts 11-64, Ramsey 3-(minus 1).
Passing--New York, Manning 12-25-0-113. Washington, Ramsey 19-22-0-174.
Receiving--New York, Shockey 3-23, Hilliard 3-13, Finn 3-11, Toomer 2-59, Dayne 1-7. Washington, Coles 6-60, Cooley 3-21, Portis 3-14, Thrash 2-27, Gardner 2-27, Royal 1-9, Kozlowski 1-8, McCants 1-8.