Giants win one for Wellington

By Bill Lynch  |   Monday, October 31, 2005  |  Comments( 0 )

New York Giants
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Tiki Barber was summoned to the bedside of Wellington Mara along with other select New York Giants players only a short time before his passing. Barber, along with the vast majority of the football community, respected and admired Mara more than any other man they had ever met. Putting a smile on his face during last weekend's last-second victory over the Broncos was certainly rewarding, but Tiki and the rest of the team wanted to do one last thing to honor the late Mara.

On a career day, Barber honored the memory of Mara with a new personal best 206 rushing yards along with a touchdown in the Giants 36-0 stomping of the Washington Redskins (4-3). The New York Giants (5-2) running back started the game with an electrifying 59 yard run. Later in the game he broke away again for a 57 yard dash down the field. He finished the first half of the game with an astonishing 171 yards on the ground against a Redskins defense ranked fourth in the league coming into Sunday.

Barber was not the only one who was motivated by such intense emotion. Michael Strahan gave an impassioned speech to his teammates before the game, and his defense certainly met the challenge. The front four, anchored by Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, put constant pressure on Redskins' quarterback Mark Brunell, who finished the day with only 65 yards passing and an interception. The relentless attack by the Giants visibly shook the entire Washington team, as constant mental errors manifested themselves in the form of dropped passes, fumbles, and missed tackles. The Redskins entered the game with the fewest three and outs in the NFL, but the heavily criticized Giants defense forced them to punt after three snaps during their first three possessions. They ended the day with seven such series, not including a turnover on downs late in the game.

The entire offense looked energized and excited, and despite a few red zone difficulties, controlled the tempo of the game with ease. Along with the usual crew of Barber, Plaxico Burress, and Jeremy Shockey contributing first downs, less celebrated players Amani Toomer, Brandon Jacobs, Tim Carter, and Derrick Ward also chipped in. The Redskins offense was an entirely different story, however, as they struggled to put up an insignificant 124 yards against a Giants team that had been allowing 412 yards per game. Clinton Portis, coming off a colossal three touchdown game last week, was held to a career low 9 rushing yards.

The first shutout the Giants have dealt since 1998 was also the first shutout ever delivered to a Joe Gibbs' team in the regular season. The victory, along with an Eagles loss to the Broncos this afternoon, moves the Giants into a lone first place in the NFC East. The team celebrated afterwards with emotional embraces and arms raised high in the air as the fans cheered them on and waved posters reading "Thank You Wellington!"
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