Giants' maligned defense flusters BrunellOct 8, 2006 - 8:06 PM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Tom Coughlin and Tim Lewis used the bye week to their advantage.
After allowing 92 points in their first three games, the New York Giants limited Mark Brunell to just 109 passing yards in a 19-3 victory over the Washington Redskins.
The Giants (2-2) entered the game ranked 30th against the pass, yielding 281 yards per game, and recorded just two sacks. In its last game, New York looked helpless on defense, allowing five touchdown passes to Matt Hasselbeck in a 42-30 loss at Seattle.
During the bye week, Coughlin, the Giants' third-year coach, and Lewis, the defensive coordinator, had to endure intense criticism.
New York had lost five straight games following byes, falling to 3-14 overall after the week off. But the Giants put the extra days of practice to good use this time, coming up with a defensive scheme that frustrated Brunell and contained Pro Bowl wide receiver Santana Moss.
"I was very pleased with the way our defense responded to two weeks of work," Coughlin said.
"We needed to get back on track no matter who we were playing," said Giants linebacker LaVar Arrington, who spent his first six years with Washington before signing a seven-year, $49 million deal with the Giants in the offseason. "We had a great week of practice so we were confident going in. And we were well prepared."
Arrington nearly intercepted a screen pass by Brunell, but made just one tackle.
Defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora and defensive tackle Fred Robbins each had a sack for New York.
The Redskins (2-3) had scored a total of 67 points in their last two games, including a 36-30 overtime win over Jacksonville in which Brunell connected with Moss for three touchdown passes.
But Moss, who burned the Giants for three touchdown catches last December 24 at Washington, caught just three passes for 39 yards.
"This week we took a different approach," said Giants cornerback Corey Webster. "We weren't going to worry about them. We were going to concentrate on what we do well. This is going to really build our confidence."
The Redskins totaled just 164 yards and 10 first downs and managed only a 39-yard field goal by John Hall with 2:59 left in the first quarter to open the scoring.
"We had a lot of confidence in our ability to score points and today it was just a bad day for us, a poor performance," said Brunell, who completed 12-of-22 passes.
"We needed a big play to get a spark of some kind but we couldn't get it," Washington coach Joe Gibbs said. "You figure that someone someplace is going to make a play. Today it didn't happen for us."
Meanwhile, the Giants operated efficiently on offense, totaling 411 yards. Eli Manning completed 23-of-33 passes for 256 yards and one touchdown with no turnovers and Tiki Barber rushed for 123 yards on 23 carries.
"I think the bye week definitely helped us," Manning said. "We got to look and see what we were doing well, and what our problems were. We really got back down to what we need to be doing. Let's not overdo things. Let's try and out-execute teams instead of out-scheming them."
Jay Feely kicked four field goals and Plaxico Burress caught a two-yard touchdown pass for New York.
Five minutes before the game, Barber brought together the offense and addressed them, as has become his custom.
"What I told the guys before the game was we're not entitled to be successful because we have good talent," Barber said. "That's how we played today. We didn't wait for someone else to make the big play. Guys had individual accountability. We put our will to them, which was nice to see."
Feely connected from 24, 34 and 32 yards in the second quarter, with the last kick coming two seconds before halftime. It capped a 14-play, 84-yard drive that was kept alive when Manning hit Amani Toomer at the sideline for 10 yards on 3rd-and-8, pushing the ball out to the Giants' 14-yard line from the shadow of their goalpost.
"He (Toomer) went up and made a heck of a catch," Coughlin said. "He made a big play, and he's done that throughout the entire year."
The Giants marched 69 yards in a drive that lasted more than eight minutes to open the second half, taking a 16-3 lead when Manning hit Burress for his ninth scoring pass of the season.
Burress was benched in the Giants' loss at Seattle two weeks ago after losing a fumble and failing to catch a pass that resulted in an interception.
Feely added a 40-yard field goal with 12:10 left in the fourth quarter.
The Giants held Washington to 3-of-11 on third-down conversions while making 9-of-16.
"We have to get off the field on third down," Redskins safety Adam Archuleta said. "Great defenses stop the run and get off the field on third down, and I don't think we did any of that today."
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