Giants push past 'Skins

The Baltimore Sun

LANDOVER - It didn't take long for Eli Manning to change the focus of the game. With all the attention pointed at a wide receiver with a hole in his leg back home, the New York Giants' quarterback quickly set a tone for his team, making it clear that distractions would not be an option.

On their first drive, Manning led the Giants down the field. Twice he hit Domenik Hixon - for 13 yards over the middle and on a 15-yard sideline throw caught while falling backward - before lofting a perfect pass into the hands of Amani Toomer down the right side for a 40-yard touchdown.

"We had the ball, and everybody was kind of wondering how we were going to be able to play it with the rain and et cetera," coach Tom Coughlin said, "but that was a quick answer for us."

There was a lot of et cetera for the Giants yesterday, but Manning managed to play through a storm - literally and figuratively - to lead a 23-7 victory over the Washington Redskins. He had his best passing day of the season, completing 21 of 34 for 305 yards when the Giants needed his stability the most.

"I think Coach is always a little nervous on rainy days," Manning said.

One thing Coughlin said he wasn't nervous about was how the team would react to this latest Plaxico Burress mess. After he told the team what had happened at a meeting Saturday morning, Coughlin said, the team was able to put the incident behind them.

"They quickly get right back to the reason we are here," Coughlin said.

Players said over and over that the team has overcome adversity and distraction before, but this was different from missed meetings and temper tantrums and injuries, the effects of which the Giants had been able to sidestep.

"There's no way it can't be" a distraction, defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "He's one of us, that's our brother. He's definitely hurting, and we're hurting with him. But once you're in this locker room, the show's got to go on. We're going to play and perform well for him and with him in mind, but we're not going to slip at all."

Added center Shaun O'Hara: "Plaxico wasn't playing in this game anyway [with a hamstring injury], so in a way, it was business as usual."

Lately, that business has been winning. The Giants won their seventh straight game to improve to 11-1 for the first time in franchise history. A win Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles at home would clinch the NFC East title and a first-round bye. As the season heads into its final four games, the Giants are rolling.

And the past two weeks, they've done it by passing the ball. In both games - without Burress - opponents have put an extra safety in the box to stop the run and Manning has been able to exploit it. The Giants had three receivers with five or more catches and more than 70 yards.

"It's not confidence in myself." Manning said. "It's having confidence in all of the guys around me because they're doing a great job of making plays."

After the first touchdown pass to Toomer, the Giants added two field goals by John Carney to go ahead 13-0. The Redskins (7-5) scored their only touchdown when Devin Thomas ran 29 yards on a reverse. Shaun Suisham missed a 42-yard field-goal try at the end of the half to keep the score 13-7.

Before the opening kickoff, the Redskins inducted Sean Taylor into the team's Ring of Fame to mark the first anniversary of the Pro Bowl safety's death in a botched robbery attempt. Running back Clinton Portis honored his fallen friend by running onto the field with a No. 21 flag during the tribute.

Sun news services contributed to this article.

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