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After 36-0, Redskins Face Giant Challenge

The last time the Redskins defeated an opponent as decisively as they did last Sunday against the Cowboys? Go back to Week 8. The Redskins dominated the San Francisco 49ers 52-17 at FedExField.

The Redskins followed the 49ers game with a trip to the Meadowlands, where the New York Giants soundly beat the Redskins 36-0 in what Joe Gibbs called a "nightmare." It remains Gibbs's worst loss as an NFL head coach.

Flash forward seven weeks later, and the Redskins are coming off a convincing 35-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys in one of the biggest wins in recent franchise history.

The next opponent? The New York Giants.

Redskins' players and coaches are guarded as they enter preparations for this Saturday's NFC East showdown against the Giants.

They have the utmost respect for the Giants, but they still seem perplexed as to what happened in the New Jersey swamplands on Oct. 30. Ask about the game, even now, and you get a lot of "I don't know's."

Some have called the game an aberration, saying that the team turned in its worst performance of the year against a Giants team that was evolving into a playoff contender.

Perhaps there was an emotional factor at play that the Redskins simply could not overcome: two days before the game, the Giants attended the funeral of their long-time owner, Wellington Mara, who passed away on Oct. 25.

Whatever the reason, there's no denying that the Giants came out that day and manhandled the Redskins, capitalizing on several long runs by running back Tiki Barber and an opportunistic, turnover-minded defense.

"I think in that game it was total domination all the way across the board," Gibbs said this week. "I don't know what else to say about it. Everybody who watched it would probably say the same thing. It can happen to anybody in this league, but I also think they're very, very good. We'll be a little nervous about playing them because they kind of overwhelmed us that first time."

Were the Redskins just not focused and ready to play that day?

"I can say in that game that going into it I had every confidence that we had prepared well," Gibbs said. "We had a lot on the line, we respected them and I thought we were ready to play. We had a good game plan and it blew up right in our face. I don't know why. For some reason that day, they totally dominated the game."

"We got whooped--bottom line," cornerback Shawn Springs said. "They were probably giving us payback for what we did to them in FedExField [in December 2004, when the Redskins beat the Giants 31-7]. In the NFC East, you've always got to come to play."

Some players were able to move past that game as soon as it was over. As the team departed Giants Stadium after the game, one of the buses broke down--talk about adding insult to injury--and about 20 players were shepherded onto the staff bus.

Players like Randy Thomas, Jon Jansen, John Hall, Ethan Albright and Cory Raymer were surprisingly upbeat. Looking ahead was certainly better than the alternative of looking back at a game where nothing went right.

The Redskins have another opportunity to play the Giants this Saturday, with a roaring FedExField crowd behind them.

Will Gibbs and assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams throw out the game plan from the first Redskins-Giants game? Will they even watch film of the 36-0 defeat?

"Certainly there are some things we don't want to do again," Gibbs said. "We'll analyze it, but watching that film won't help as much. It'll just discourage you. I think we'll try to do some different things."

Added Gibbs: "We're playing an opponent that completely dominated us the first go-around. They are playing excellent football right now. They are beating good teams. It's going to be a real test for us."

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