LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- Tiki Barber put the ultimate exclamation
point on the New York Giants' season of turmoil with a
franchise-rushing record, a dominating performance that virtually
assures his career will last at least one more week.
In his last regular-season game, Barber carried 23 times for 234
yards and three touchdowns Saturday night in a 34-28 victory over
Washington. The win ends New York's seven-week free fall just in
time for the Giants to make the postseason as a .500 team.
"This is a soap opera to its fullest," linebacker Antonio
Pierce said. "This is New York at its prime right here. Hopefully,
we'll go out on top and do everything right. We finally got to the
playoffs, and that was our ultimate goal. We're in the playoffs,
and we're 0-0, and I like that better than anything else."
The Giants (8-8) had lost six of seven, and fans were chanting
for coach Tom Coughlin's firing last week. Coughlin said he had
several "heart-to-hearts" this week with his players, and they
responded by putting New York in the playoffs for the second
consecutive year -- its first back-to-back appearances since 1989-90
-- unless a highly improbable series of results Sunday allows Green
Bay to take the NFC's final spot.
"We won a game, and we got into the playoffs," said Coughlin,
who grew a little testy when reporters asked whether he was
coaching for his job. "Is that good enough?"
But Coughlin's team is there solely because of Barber. He broke
a tackle in a 55-yard run -- his longest of the season -- in the
second quarter and kept his feet as he stumbled for a 15-yard score
later in the half. His crowning feat was a 50-yard run with 6:13
left in the game. He cut left, then right, broke Troy Vincent's
tackle and outran the defense to restore a 13-point lead.
"There are certain things that motivate you, push you," Barber
said. "It's partly because of the circumstances of this game, my
last one. Most important, we had to win to keep playing."
Barber passed the 1,500-yard mark for the third consecutive
season -- he has 1,662 -- and also caught three passes for 24 yards.
Barber's previous best rushing game was 220 yards in December 2005
against Kansas City, which also was the franchise record.
Barber starred on a night when quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride
handled the play-calling duties in place of offensive coordinator
John Hufnagel. Eli Manning went 12-for-26 for 101 yards and a
touchdown, and no receiver other than Barber caught more than two
"That's why he's Tiki Barber," Pierce said. "He sets his own
goals and standards. His way of living is different from everybody
else's, and he shows it. He plays with a lot of heart and
determination. Today he put this team and this offense on his back
and did everything he could for us to win."
If the Giants could be accused of sputtering into the
postseason, the Redskins simply sputtered into infamy. Washington
set the NFL record for fewest takeaways in a non-strike season -- 12
-- after going yet another game without forcing a turnover or
interception. The previous mark was 15, set two years ago by Green
Bay and St. Louis.
The Redskins' 5-11 record is the worst in Hall of Fame coach Joe
Gibbs' 15-year career. He's 21-27 in the regular season since
emerging from retirement in 2004.
"A long, hard, tough year for us," said Gibbs, who met with
owner Dan Snyder before addressing reporters. "Dan and I were in
there talking right now. We're going to start with me and him, and
spend quite a bit of time together, starting tomorrow. I think I
know quite a bit about some of the things I want to do, and some of
the things we want to try to fix."
Jason Campbell completed 21 of 31 passes for 220 yards with two
touchdowns and one interception for the Redskins. Santana Moss
caught six passes for 103 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown
reception on an option pass from Antwaan Randle El, the
ex-Pittsburgh receiver's first touchdown pass since last season's
Trailing 27-7, the Redskins made things interesting with a pair
of long touchdown drives. Ladell Betts caught a 7-yard scoring
pass, and a 1-yard run by T.J. Duckett that made the score 27-21
with 9:25 to play.
But Barber answered with his 50-yard run, a much-needed score
given that the Redskins came back to cut the deficit to six on Mike
Sellers' 1-yard touchdown reception with 3:22 remaining.
The Redskins got the ball back with a chance to win in the final
minutes, but Giants safety Gibril Wilson broke up a pass on
fourth-and-10 to end Washington's last threat.
"Once we got rolling in the second half and I got into the flow
of the game, it seemed like we were unstoppable at one point,"
Campbell said. "Losing at the end really hurt."
Injuries: Giants CB Corey Webster (hip); Redskins LB
Warrick Holdman (shoulder) and CB Ade Jimoh (concussion). ...
Campbell was shaken up in the second quarter and was replaced by
Mark Brunell for two plays. ... The Giants benched struggling LT
Bob Whitfield and gave Greg Ruegamer his first start of the season.
Ruegamer started at LG, with David Diehl moving to LT. ... New York
backup QB Jared Lorenzen took his first NFL snap, converting a
third-and-1 with a sneak in the second quarter. ... Redskins WR
Brandon Lloyd was inactive because of bronchitis. ... KR Rock
Cartwright set the Redskins season record for return yards (1,541),
passing Brian Mitchell's 1,478 in 1994. ... Redskins S Adam
Archuleta, who voiced frustrations over playing time this week, saw
his first snaps on defense in eight weeks. ... Betts was held to 92
yards, ending his streak of 100-yard games at five, which had tied
a franchise record.
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