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Giants start fast, 16-7

New York picks up where it left off in the Super Bowl, defeating the Redskins in the NFL season opener.

September 05, 2008|Dom Amore | Hartford Courant

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the first game of their championship defense, the New York Giants reemerged looking not like a one-year-wonder the season after the miracle, but much like the solid team that shocked the football world seven months ago.

Their offense dominated the first 28 minutes, their defense was suffocating from start to finish and they beat the Washington Redskins, 16-7, Thursday night in the season opener at Giants Stadium.

Was this enough to end the talk of post-Super Bowl "hangover"?

"Sometimes I wonder if the questions are asked just to be asked," Giants Coach Tom Coughlin said. "Is anybody paying attention? I didn't see it. I didn't see it in preseason. I didn't see the complacency or any of the [post] Super Bowl stuff. There is a real hunger to win with this group, and the experience of winning is something they want very badly."

Quarterback Eli Manning scored the Giants' only touchdown on a one-yard run, finishing off an 84-yard opening drive. With Plaxico Burress, fresh from signing the new contract he craved, catching important passes, 10 for 133 yards, and Brandon Jacobs rumbling around and over defenders for 116 yards, the Giants scored the first four times they had the ball but had to settle for three John Carney field goals.

"When you get inside the 10, everything has to be perfect," Manning said. "Everything has to be precise. We need to work on that."

After that, the Giants' offense drifted in and out of rhythm, Manning throwing an interception at one point, but their defense, with five new starters, stayed within a solid plan. Except for a touchdown at the end of the half, set up by a long kickoff return, the Redskins who, granted, are not expected to be contenders in the NFC East, did very little on offense. The Giants' defense, with Michael Strahan retired and Osi Umenyiora injured, does not have the fearsome pass rush that made life so miserable for Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, and in this game they forced no turnovers but continually kept the receivers at bay. Four straight Washington possessions in the second half ended with completed passes, with the receivers tackled short of the first-down marker.

"You're not going to replace a Strahan, you're not going to replace an Osi," said linebacker Antonio Pierce. "You've got to move on. I think you saw that with our defensive performance tonight."

When they tackled Ladell Betts to stop Washington on downs with 2:02 left, all was safe.

Maybe the Redskins aren't the Patriots by a long shot, but they did thump the Giants the last time they came to the Meadowlands last December, before a long string of crucial road victories began.

"It was nice to be able to win at home," said Manning, who completed 19 of 35 for 216 yards. "We haven't done that for a while. That was fun."

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