LANDOVER, Md. -- The New York Giants nearly ran out of people to play defense, so they used a castoff from the opposing team to force the game-clinching turnover.
|Giants FB Charles Stackhouse gets into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown reception.(AP)|
Cornerback Ralph Brown, forced into starting duty because of injuries, had an interception and a fumble recovery in the first half. Altogether, the Giants forced five turnovers despite playing without five defensive starters to keep their minuscule playoff hopes alive with a 27-21 victory over the Redskins on Sunday.
"I was looking on the backs of the jerseys of a few guys to figure out what the heck, who is this?" defensive end Michael Strahan said. "Without those guys, we wouldn't have won today."
Brown had two dazzling runbacks to set up two touchdowns, Kerry Collins completed 17 of 31 passes for 212 yards and two TDs, and Cornelius Griffin had three of New York's six sacks and forced a fumble as the Giants (7-6) broke a two-game losing streak.
"Everybody's counting us out, but we're still alive," said coach Jim Fassel, who had critics calling for his job last week. "It will be over when we say it's over."
The two second-half turnovers were huge tide-turners. The Giants had been sapped of momentum -- their 17-0 lead was down to 17-14 -- when Washington's Champ Bailey fumbled a punt. Two plays later, the Giants scored on Tiki Barber's 1-yard TD run, and a 36-yard field goal by Matt Bryant added more cushion.
But they needed one last big play. Serwanga, who sat idle in the Redskins' locker room with a knee injury all season before his unexpected release, came through when he stripped McCants at the Giants 30-yard line with 3:59 to play.
"Surreal would be a good word," Serwanga said, "because a lot has happened. You've got to imagine from injured reserve to a week later playing against a team you were just hanging out with for two years -- all in a matter of 72 hours. That's a bit much for me."
Collins said he hasn't even said hello to Serwanga.
"He just started to put the milk and sugar in the coffee," Collins said. "But the guy's out there, what can you say? We'll all talk to him now."
The Redskins (5-8), meanwhile, are bumbling toward the finish line. Rookie Patrick Ramsey finished the game and is again the starter after Danny Wuerffel sprained his right shoulder in the third quarter. Coach Steve Spurrier's plan to use younger players backfired on plays such as McCants' fumble.
"We're hoping those guys with a little experience can learn to protect the ball when you get tackled," Spurrier said. "We've done a lousy job of teaching them thus far."
The best Washington can do now is repeat the .500 seasons of the past two years.
"There's always hope, but what does hope get you?" guard Tre Johnson said. "You need tangible stuff in this world."
The Redskins rallied behind Ramsey, who led two scoring drives immediately after entering the game. Ramsey was 12-for-27 for 204 yards, and Derrius Thompson caught six passes for a career-high 122 yards.
Stephen Davis, getting less work in the late season youth movement, gained 70 yards on 12 carries and had a 1-yard touchdown run.
Four of Washington's turnovers came on pass plays, disgruntling the fans so much they yelled "Run the Ball," booing Wuerffel and chanting for Ramsey in the first half.
- Strahan had some terse words about the officials and Redskins guard Wilbert Brown. Strahan said he was defending himself when he was called for delay of game for wrestling with Brown near the end of the first half, a penalty that allowed the Redskins to kick a field goal. "I don't want to be on the ground and have a guy come hit me in the back when the play is on the other side of the field. That's just stupid football. I'll take a 5-yard penalty if I have to defend myself." Strahan said the official who made the call was "looking the other way." "They've been looking the other way all year," he said. He also said Brown "ain't good enough to be in the league for too long anyway, so I'm not even going to worry about it. I don't know his name."
- Barber went over 1,000 yards for the season.
- Washington defensive end Bruce Smith hurt his back on a sack, but he returned in the next series. Smith is six sacks short of Reggie White's all-time record.
The Associated Press News Service
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