EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Brandon Jacobs took a handoff on the second play from scrimmage, bounced off one tackle, broke through another and rumbled 39 yards to a Washington 18,
Five plays later, the big New York Giants’ running back made a great cutback to his left and scored almost untouched.
A little more than 3½ minutes after the opening kickoff, the Giants had set the tone on a cold, windy, December afternoon and went on to steamroll the Redskins 31-7 on Sunday.
“That first drive just settled all the nerves that you could run the ball,” left tackle Will Beatty said. “We ran the ball the first drive and scored, and it gave us that feeling like: ‘We got this.’ It’s a mental mindset and that first drive gave us that confidence that we could move the rock.”
The Giants (8-4) were outstanding in almost all phases in moving into a first-place tie with Philadelphia in the NFC East with four games left in the regular season.
Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for 200 yards rushing and four TDs, two apiece. The defense came up with six turnovers against mistake-prone and fast-fading Washington (5-7) and special teams chipped in, getting a partially blocked punt by former Redskins Devin Thomas to set up Lawrence Tynes’ late field goal.
“We have been waiting on this all year,” said Bradshaw, who finished with 97 yards and has 1,013 for the season, his first 1,000-yard year. “We needed a great drive downfield the first drive of the game. We were enthusiastic before the game to do this, and it helped a lot.”
Jacobs, who got his starting job back last week, set the tone early despite playing behind a banged-up offensive line.
Taking a handoff from Eli Manning on the second play, the bruising back bounced off safety Kareem Moore near the line of scrimmage, shifted to his left and ran out of a hand tackle by Rocky McIntosh and didn’t stop until he was in red zone.
On his first touchdown run, Jacobs made a cutback worthy of the more nimble Bradshaw and jogged into the end zone for New York’s first opening-drive TD in 13 games.
“We talked all week, we knew it would be cold,” said Jacobs, who also scored on a 28-yard run in the third quarter. “We did say no dodging, run downhill. Running the football is how you win in December. If you don’t have that, unless you’re an indoor team, you’re in trouble.”
New York mixed it up a little more in taking a 14-0 lead on its second drive, with Manning hitting three passes for 36 yards and Bradshaw and Jacobs combining for the other 23 yards on the 59-yard drive that Bradshaw capped with a 4-yard run.
“This is typical football weather,” tackle Kareem McKenzie said. “It’s cold, there is a chill in the air and you want to go out there as offensive linemen and build up some momentum and try to keep it the whole game. We did that.”
The loss was the fifth in seven games for the Redskins, who were their own worst enemy. Not only did they have the turnovers, but receivers dropped passes and Donovan McNabb was sacked four times and knocked to the ground at least a half dozen times.
“It’s frustrating,” said McNabb, who was intercepted twice and has a career-high 15 this season. “I thought all game we had opportunities to move the ball, move the chains, get ourselves in position. With six turnovers, you don’t win too many ballgames.”
Not tackling well also dimmed the Redskins’ playoffs in Mike Shanahan’s first season as coach.
“Same old story week in and week out, we’re just not a sound fundamental football team,” said linebacker London Fletcher, who intercepted Manning’s pass in the end zone in the second quarter.
“Poor tackling, probably the worst tackling team I’ve been around, don’t do the fundamental things well: don’t catch footballs, don’t hold onto the ball, don’t tackle well. Those things are things that you need to do on every level in order to win football games.”
The defense set up Bradshaw’s 10-yard run touchdown run in the second quarter and Jacobs’ 28-yard jaunt in the third with fumble recoveries by linebacker Keith Bulluck and cornerback Corey Webster.
McNabb, who won his last four starts against the Giants while an Eagle, had a 33-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Anthony Armstrong in the third quarter.
“We’re in good position,” Giants guard Chris Snee said. “We just have to continue to improve and trying to win out because everyone is winning.”
NOTES: Manning finished 15 of 25 for 161 yards, and was not sacked for the fifth straight game … McNabb wound up 26 of 44 for 296 yards.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.