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Giants Insider: 2011 Sweep Still Stings

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Upsets happen every week in the NFL, with a lesser team defying the odds to defeat a superior opponent.  But what are the odds of that happening twice?

The 2011 Super Bowl champion New York Giants found out against the Washington Redskins (5-11), who inexplicably swept the season series, including a 23-10 drubbing in the Meadowlands in Week 15.

Ten months later, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin still had no answers for the sweep, particularly in light of the team's eventual Lombardi Trophy.

"I don't have an answer for that," he told the Washington media.  "The Redskins played well and we didn't."

Leading up to the first meeting of 2012, the Redskins have downplayed the importance of last year's wins, but the Giants have made it a point to remember.

"We're not happy. We're not happy about having lost twice," Coughlin said.  "Hopefully, the players are paying attention to that. We have to find a way to win."

Quarterback Eli Manning echoed his head coach's thoughts, citing his own failure to execute on offense.

"Coach Coughlin has mentioned [the losses] a little bit, and we know [the Redskins] are a good team," said quarterback Eli Manning.  "Last year, they played us very well.  Offensively, we didn't do a whole lot against them in either game and had some turnovers."

The Redskins finished last season with a negative-14 turnover ratio, but were plus-one against the Giants.

Manning, who threw 16 interception last season, threw three against the Redskins.  In Coughlin's eyes, these was the deciding factor in the games.

"I think second only to points scored and points against, [turnover margin] is the critical factor," Coughlin said.  "You're trying like heck not to give the other guy any break. You don't want him to have the ball in good field position. You don't want him to have the ball in a circumstance where he hasn't earned that turf, that yardage that we fight for so desperately."

The Redskins have employed an opportunistic approach on defense this season, winning the turnover margin plus-nine.  They have also scored 49 points off turnovers, including four defensive touchdowns in six games.

In order to continue that trend in New York, the Redskins intend to create pressure on Manning, who is susceptible to error under duress.

"We have to be relentless to disrupt the passing game," said Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.  "And we have to be disciplined in our pass rush.  [Manning] is smart in the pocket, he slides in the pocket, he stays alive, and he knows when to get out the pocket.

"He's a big man. I think he's a pretty good athlete for a big guy."

Coughlin also touched on what his defense has in store to counter the lethal playmaking ability of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who had his best game of the season last week.

"I've seen improvement like you would imagine for an athlete of that caliber over the course of the six games," Coughlin said.  "[Griffin III] has got a better feel of what's going on. He's more acclimated to the game, to the circumstances, the situations. He's playing outstanding—he's not forcing anything."

The Giants have had mixed results against mobile quarterbacks this season, shutting down Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers 36-7, before losing to Michael Vick and the Eagles 17-19.

The Giants may understand how to defend a playmaking quarterback, but Coughlin downplayed the comparisons between Griffin III and the others.

"I don't know that it's exactly the same, but that certainly will give us a reference points as we start to teach this week. This will be the third option-oriented attack that we would have to try to defend, so we've had some experience with it.

"But have we worked against a guy that's as fast and elusive a Robert is?  No."

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