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Redskins thwarted by five turnovers

12/8/2002

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- 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.

Question on the Giants: Is Jim Fassel still the right man or is it time for a change regardless of how they finish?
I'm a Fassel fan. The Giants appear to be lacking more personnel than they thought they lacked heading into the season. The Giants also have played with a lack of emotion, but I don't think Fassel is to blame for that. An NFL team playing for its postseason life shouldn't need a pep talk from its coach to get motivated.

Question on the 'Skins: Should Steve Spurrier let Patrick Ramsey finish the season as his starting QB?
I think so. Spurrier needs to find out if Ramsey is his QB of the future. Even if he isn't, Ramsey gives Washington a better chance to win the rest of this season.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Backup safety Kato Serwanga, released last Monday from the
Washington Redskins' injured reserve list and signed by New York on
Wednesday, stopped a potential game-winning drive when he stripped
the ball from receiver Darnerien McCants.

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 Giants played without linebackers Mike Barrow and Dhani
Jones and cornerbacks Will Allen and William Peterson. Defensive
lineman Keith Hamilton is out for the season.

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 that they yelled "Run the Ball,'' booing Wuerffel
and chanting for Ramsey in the first half.

Game notes
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.