Undeterred Giants are in rare air
LANDOVER, Md. - The New York Giants have shoved every distraction aside, including a shooting incident involving their star receiver, to become as dominant as, say, a Chicago Bulls team with Michael Jordan.
Perhaps that's no coincidence.
At one of the first meetings of training camp, coach Tom Coughlin discussed the 1991-92 Bulls as a team for the Giants to emulate in its bid to repeat as Super Bowl champions. That was the first season that Jordan and the Bulls won back-to-back titles, and the Giants remained solidly on pace to keep up with His Airness after yesterday's 23-7 victory over the Washington Redskins.
"That really kind of set our whole season going and focused in the right direction," receiver Amani Toomer said. "And we've been answering every call ever since."
Added Justin Tuck: "Maybe everybody wants to have something to do with Michael Jordan."
Jordan would certainly approve of the 11-1 record, as well as the way the Giants aren't letting anything - on or off the field - get in the way. Two days after Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself at a Manhattan nightclub, the Giants braved a dreary rain to hold Clinton Portis to a season-low 22 yards and produce Eli Manning's first 300-yard game of the season.
"We can't fly yet," Tuck said. "But on the football field, we're playing pretty well. Obviously you try your best to stay grounded and stay humble about it, but right now we're playing good football."
The Giants have won seven straight, including six in a row against teams with winning records, and have a three-game lead over the Dallas Cowboys with four to play. They completed a sweep of the Redskins by manhandling them in the major statistical categories, including total yards (404-320) and time of possession (35:44-24:16).
They set the tone on the game's first drive, accepting the Redskins' dare to throw the ball in the bad weather. With Washington bracing for the run and playing a pressing man-to-man defense, Manning threw for 68 yards on the drive, capped when Toomer beat Fred Smoot one-on-one down the right sideline for a 40-yard touchdown.
The Redskins (7-5) never recovered because they don't have the offense to do so. They've lost three of four - with all three losses at home.
Manning finished 21 for 34 for 305 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Brandon Jacobs rushed for 71 yards on 21 carries. Toomer caught five passes for 85 yards and a score.