Steve Wyche reports from the Giants-Redskins game. Check back later for his complete column:
LANDOVER, Md. — The saying usually goes something like this: The only thing that can stop the (fill in the blank) is themselves. Well, when it comes to the New York Giants that might not even come into play.
The potential distraction of the Friday night shooting at a New York night club that injured wide receiver Plaxico Burress and involved, in some manner, linebacker Antonio Pierce, never reached its potential. New York (11-1) played as if there were no off-field issues, drilling the host Washington Redskins 23-7 on Sunday from the opening kickoff to all but assure itself the NFC East title and home field throughout the playoffs.
While Burress was not expected to play because of a hamstring injury that was diagnosed before the supposed self-inflicted accidental shooting, the incident is troublesome enough to take attention of the task at hand. Not these Giants. Pierce, who spent part of his Saturday evening speaking to NFL security about the incident, also was locked in, playing his usual steady game for an unyielding defense that had the benefit of playing with an early lead.
Besides playing through the off-field mess, the Giants also went against the conventional thinking of playing in a quagmire to sweep the Redskins in convincing fashion.
The Giants aired it out against Washington in a cold, steady rain, as quarterback Eli Manning threw for more than 300 yards for the first time this season. Three receivers had at least five catches and Manning was able to complete balls at nearly every level of the defense.
Conversely, Washington wasn’t able to get any offense going as quarterback Jason Campbell once again failed to reach the promise he seemed pegged for after a nice early season surge and the running game fell flat after the Giants took too sizeable a lead in the second half. The Redskins lost for the third time in four games and in a division where every other team has won over this holiday weekend, their odds of making the playoffs all but disappeared.
Washington’s loss also furthers the thinking that both wild-card teams won’t come from the NFC East. New York and Dallas are atop the division and are firmly in control of their playoff seeding. The Redskins and Eagles have to be near perfect over the final month and the way those teams have played all season, that seems like a tall order.
Carolina, Tampa Bay, Atlanta and New Orleans are all in contention for a wild-card spot — one will win the division — as the NFC South remains up for grabs.
I will be headed to the field soon to figure out not only what the Giants did to wallop the Redskins (who fell to 7-5), but to ask players about Burress and Pierce. I’m not sure if Pierce is going to say anything, but if he does I’ll post some quotes from him a little later this afternoon.