Nothing seemed to work. And no matter how hard the Redskins tried to muster some offensive momentum on Sunday, they were thwarted at every turn by an aggressive, motivated New York Giants defense.
The end result? A 36-0 loss at Giants Stadium. It was the first time the Redskins had been shut out since Dec. 14, 2003, when the Dallas Cowboys defeated Steve Spurrier's squad 27-0 at FedExField.
The Redskins had a chance to get on the scoreboard with a short field goal late in the game, but head coach Joe Gibbs elected to try for a touchdown on fourth down. Patrick Ramsey, who had replaced an ineffective Mark Brunell, threw an incompletion.
That was typical on a day where scoring, yards and even first downs were hard to come by.
"We were trying so hard to the point where we were just putting yourself behind even further," explained wide receiver Santana Moss, who had four catches for 34 yards.
Offensively, the Redskins logged only 125 total yards, 38 rushing yards and seven first downs on Sunday. They had three-and-outs on four of their first five possessions. And they lost the time of possession by almost 19 minutes.
Remarkably, the Redskins' defense kept the game close in the first half by limiting the Giants to field goals.
The score was just 13-0 midway through the second quarter. But turnovers ended any hope of a comeback.
The Redskins' offense turned the ball on three consecutive possessions, twice in the last six minutes of the second quarter and once more in the third quarter.
The first turnover came on a Mark Brunell screen pass to Moss, who was stripped of the ball by cornerback Corey Webster. On the Redskins' next possession, Brunell was intercepted by linebacker Antonio Pierce. Finally, on the opening kickoff of the second half, Ladell Betts fumbled, committing the third turnover in a row for the offense.
To make matters worse, all three turnovers occurred in Washington's territory, giving the Giants excellent field position. The Giants converted the three turnovers into 13 points and a commanding 26-0 lead early in the second half.
The Redskins handed the ball over to the Giants again late in the third quarter, when Chris Cooley was stripped of the ball by Giants linebacker Nick Griesen. That turnover also occurred in Washington's territory and put the Giants in position for another score.
The Redskins' big three playmakers this season--Brunell, Clinton Portis and Moss--were non-factors on Sunday.
Brunell entered the game as the NFL's third-rated passer--and first in the NFC. Although receivers dropped several of his passes, he did not appear to be as accurate as he was in previous games.
The Giants were able to pressure Brunell in passing situations, forcing him out of the pocket on several occasions. For the game, he was sacked three times and finished 11-of-28 for 65 yards and one interception.
Portis had just four carries for nine yards. He also caught three passes for 13 yards. When the Redskins fell behind in the third quarter, Portis's role in the game plan seemed to diminish.
"We just had too many three-and-outs, and that will kill you," center Casey Rabach said. "We are a team that thrives on wearing a defense out. It just didn't happen and that not the Joe Gibbs way of football."
Perhaps most surprising was how the Giants bottled up Moss. The wide receiver had 38 catches for a league-leading 738 yards entering the game and was making clutch catches on a regular basis. It appeared the Giants rolled coverage to Moss's side, limiting his ability to get open and making sure he was tackled quickly before he could use his speed to break a long gain.
"Coverage-wise, they had a couple of guys on Santana," Brunell said. "They had a very good scheme. When we tried to get it downfield, it just wasn't there. They got us out of our game plan. We fell behind and got one-dimensional real quick, and that always gets you in trouble."
Added Rabach: "Nothing clicked today. Obviously, we have a lot to learn from this film. We can't play like this and expect to win any game."