EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If the New York Giants miss the playoffs once again, they have only themselves and the Washington Redskins to blame.
Rex Grossman threw a touchdown pass and the Redskins put a major hurt on the Giants and their playoff hopes with a dominating 23-10 victory Sunday in a game in which New York showed little desire with much on the line.
“I’m very disappointed in how we played today,” coach Tom Coughlin said after the Giants (7-7) fell a game behind Dallas (8-6) in the NFC East with two games left in the regular season.
“I accept responsibility for it. But I expected to see more — quality execution — and we didn’t get that.”
Surprisingly, Washington (5-9) looked very much like a playoff team in winning for only the second time in 10 games and embarrassing the Giants for the second time this season.
Grossman and the offense held the ball for 35 minutes, while the defense picked off Eli Manning three times and didn’t allow a touchdown until the final minute.
“They had a lot at stake and obviously we didn’t and I’m pleased the way we played,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said.
Coming off an emotional win over Dallas on Sunday night in a game that gave them control of their own destiny, the Giants showed nothing after a couple of early interceptions.
“I didn’t see the passion in us today,” running back Brandon Jacobs said. “We didn’t play well. We disappointed each other and our fans, and we’ve just got to play better. I can’t tell you why.”
The Giants still control their destiny. If they beat the Jets and the Cowboys in their final two games, they will win the division.
The Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles next weekend and could wrap up the division if the Giants fall in their rivalry game with the Jets.
“I still have confidence,” Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck said. “We laid an egg today, but I’ve seen us rebound from things like this a lot of times. There’s no quit in our guys. This was kind of an eye-opener. We have to keep the intensity going the whole game, and we didn’t maintain it today.
Washington never trailed in spoiling what the Giants hoped would be another step in their run to the playoffs. The Redskins took the crowd out of the game early, opening a 17-0 lead and they were never threatened.
Grossman threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Santana Moss, Darrel Young scored on a 6-yard run after one of the Redskins’ interceptions and Graham Gano kicked three field goals.
Former Giant and current Redskins defensive tackle Barry Cofield enjoyed spoiling the party hopes of his former teammates.
“A party broke out for us. I’m proud of how we came out and played,” Cofield said, adding Washington has played well in recent weeks.
This loss was the fifth in six games for the Giants, who are in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight year.
The scenario has been the same each season. New York starts the season quickly and then falters down the stretch, playing some unbelievably bad games with the postseason on the line.
This season it has been another collapse after a stunning win over New England left them at 6-2. They lost four in a row and then last week seemed to grab command again by rallying in the fourth quarter to beat the Cowboys in Dallas.
Again, with the playoffs in their grasp, they came out flat against the Redskins, who had already been eliminated from playoff contention.
Even a couple of gift interceptions by Grossman in the first quarter didn’t help.
Gano gave Washington the lead on its second series with a 36-yard field goal that was set up in part by a 19-yard pass from Donte’ Stallworth on a third-and-12 from the Giants 39.
Grossman, who finished 15 of 24 for 185 yards, pushed the lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter with his TD pass to a wide-open Moss on third-and-8.
If the touchdown had the fans muttering, there was no hiding their feelings minutes later after Oshiomogho Atogwe intercepted a pass that deflected off the hands of running back D.J. Ware and returned it 26 yards to the Giants 41. Nine plays later, Young scored and the fans let the team know it was sick of being let down.
Manning, who finished 23 of 40 for 257 yards, finally got the Giants on the board just before halftime, setting up Lawrence Tynes for a 40-yard field goal.
Instead of gaining momentum, the Giants gave the points right back. DeAngelo Hall made a one-handed interception on the second offensive play of the third quarter. His 26-yard return set up Gano’s 43-yard field goal for a 20-3 lead.
After Tynes missed a 44-yarder on the next series, Gano opened the fourth quarter with a 25-yarder to make it 23-3.
Ahmad Bradshaw scored on a 3-yard run with 33 seconds to play for the Giants’ touchdown.
The Giants were their own worst enemy. Hakeem Nicks dropped what might have been a 54-yard scoring play on their second series on a play in which he got behind the defense and had the pass hit off his facemask as he looked back into the sun.
That’s the way the day was for the Giants, who had only a few faithful fans in the stadium when they scored their touchdown.
NOTES: Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul followed his NFC defensive player of the week award with a 16-tackle performance that included a sack. …Giants DE Osi Umenyiora (knee) and C David Baas (neck) each missed their third straight game. …London Fletcher led the Skins with 12 tackles. …CB Josh Wilson had Washington’s other interception, picking off Manning in the end zone in the fourth quarter. …CB Corey Webster and S Kenny Phillips had the Giants interceptions.