Commentary

Giants can't let up against Redskins

Big Blue must follow critical win in Dallas by taking care of business vs. Washington

Updated: December 16, 2011, 1:38 PM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's Week 15 and the NFC East title is within grasp again.

The New York Giants fully understand what they must do to claim the division and make the playoffs.

"We have control right now but we still have to go out there and play as if we don't," safety Antrel Rolle said.

It's understandable why Rolle wants the Giants to play as if they are not in control of their own destiny. The Giants don't handle prosperity all that well.

Last year, also in Week 15, the Giants had the NFC East title and a playoff spot in the palm of their hand, only to blow a 21-point lead in minutes and suffer a meltdown for the ages.

Now, Week 15 is here again and the Giants have control of the division again. If they win two of their next three games, including the season finale against Dallas, the Giants will be NFC East champions.

This week's foe, the Washington Redskins, does not possess the kind of firepower the Giants' three previous opponents (New Orleans, Green Bay and Dallas) have, nor does it have much to play for.

So, the Giants can't possibly come out lifeless and flat against the Redskins (4-9) at home. Or can they? After all, that's exactly what they did in Washington on the 10-year anniversary of 9-11 to open the season, a game which had much more significance for them than just a victory over a division rival.

"There is no way that will happen again," running back Brandon Jacobs said. "What we are playing for, what is at stake, there is no way we can't match their intensity like we didn't do in Week 1."

"There is no way we can't want it badder than them," Jacobs continued. "I think that is just impossible."

The Giants (7-6) know the consequences if they come out emotionally flat. A loss to the Redskins for a second time this season would erase everything they fought so hard for in Dallas on Sunday night. It could put the Cowboys, who play Tampa Bay, back in control with two games remaining.

A win over the Redskins would give the Giants another division victory and at least give them some room for error if they were to slip up on Christmas Eve against the Jets, who are playing for their own playoff lives.

The last time the Giants were ahead in the NFC East and played a division foe at home, Tom Coughlin's team allowed Vince Young and the Eagles to walk out of MetLife Stadium with a head-scratching 17-10 win a month ago.

Afterward, the Giants questioned their effort knowing that they had not matched the intensity of the Eagles despite knowing Philadelphia would come out playing for its season at that point.

These Redskins are playing hard despite their record. They gave the Patriots a fight in a 34-27 loss last week in Washington.

The Giants know the Redskins will want to play spoiler. But they insist they will match Washington's intensity after bringing maximum effort the last two weeks against the Packers and Cowboys.

"I don't think intensity is our issue as of late," defensive tackle Chris Canty said. "We have to do a better job of communicating [on defense]. I don't think intensity is an issue. When I watch the film, I see guys flying around and trying to make plays. We just aren't putting ourselves in the best situation to make plays."

The Giants defense certainly has more issues than intensity. Perry Fewell's defense enters the game ranked 30th in the NFL in yards allowed and has leaked four passing touchdowns in each of the last three games.

There have been communication breakdowns and mental lapses in the secondary. And while the Giants are not facing a Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Tony Romo this week, they have to stop Rex Grossman, who beat them in Week 1 by throwing for 305 yards and two touchdowns in the 28-14 win.

"They are the first losing team we have faced in a while but they beat us," safety Kenny Phillips said. "It is definitely a big game. We will be up for this one."

Rolle said after the disappointing season-opening loss that if the Giants and Redskins played "100 times, they [the Redskins] might win five."

This week on his radio interview on WFAN, Rolle said the Giants would win "99" out of 100 times. It's time to back up the talk.

"We are not overlooking any team," Rolle said. "We have respect for each NFL opponent. But at the end of the day, I know what we bring to the table, I know how good we are and I know what the outcome of the game should be on Sunday. It is up to us."

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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