Giants win for Mara

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A week ago, the New York Giants learned their wet-behind-the-ears quarterback can win a game for them when the pressure is at its highest.

Yesterday the Giants -- make that the NFC East-leading G-men -- learned they can do it without budding superstar Eli Manning being a significant factor.

An easy 36-0 shutout of the Washington Redskins yesterday at Giants Stadium was mostly about Tiki Barber running for 206 yards and a dominating defence.

Of course, if across the board support like that keeps up, Manning will zoom around the learning curve to becoming one of the elite at his position.

"That was very fitting for Mr. Mara," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of team owner Wellington Mara, who died earlier in the week at age 89. "He loved the great defences and he loved to run the ball."

It was fitting, too, that veterans such as Barber and tight end Jeremy Shockey each had a touchdown. The two were the only Giants players Mara had invited to see him on his deathbed the night before he passed away.

An emotional sellout crowd of 78,630 listened attentively as Mara's granddaugher, Kate Mara, sang the U.S. national anthem. Late in the game, they heartily cheered as Barber handed his touchdown ball to another grandchild, Timmy McDonald.

"It was a big day for me with the emotions and circumstances of the past week," said Barber, who has played his entire career with the Giants. "It's a day I'll never forget.

"I'm not perfect, but I never give up. Those are some of the same characteristics and ideals that the Mara family has. It's one of the reasons I've always wanted to stay here."

Barber set the tone on the game's first play from scrimmage when he busted loose for 57 yards to the Redskins 16. By halftime, he had run for 171 yards and with a 19-0 lead, the Redskins (4-3), who had been tied with the Giants (5-2), were the Deadskins.

An offence that the week before had put up 52 points against the San Francisco 49ers, didn't get past midfield until the final play of the third quarter.

Though it was a quiet day for Manning -- he completed just 12 of 31 attempts for 146 yards -- it is clear the Giants are comfortable with the second-year player being their leader.

When he led the offence to a dramatic fourth-quarter rally against the Denver Broncos a week ago, his teammates gained a new respect.

As Manning continues to develop, he's looking like a more subtle version of his older brother Peyton. He is confident enough to call audibles at the line, albeit without the overdone flair of the Colts quarterback.

And as the Giants quarterback has shown as the season moves toward the midway point, Manning is increasingly comfortable in the pocket, allowing him to find second and third receivers.

Indirectly, such success led to Barber's big day. That the Washington defence had to respect Manning and the passing game created huge holes for the veteran back.

"That was a big game for us ... but we haven't done anything yet," Manning said. "We're still going to have to find a way to make more plays."

---

GIANTS 36

REDSKINS 0

- THE DIFFERENCE: Tiki Barber broke off a 57-yard run on the game's first play to set the tone for New York.

- RUSHING LEADERS:

WSH: Cartwright, 21 yds

NYG: Barber, 206 yds

- PASSING LEADERS:

WSH: Brunell, 65 yds

NYG: Manning, 146 yds

- RECEIVING LEADERS:

WSH: Moss, 34 yds

NYG: Toomer, 43 yds


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