THE PROUD, buttoned-up Giants organization faces major decisions off the field in dealing with Burress—who on Monday was charged with two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon—and to a lesser extent, linebacker and defensive captain Antonio Pierce, who was with Burress on the night of the shooting. Moreover, the remaining schedule is brutal, beginning with a home game this Sunday against the schizophrenic Eagles and then a trip to Dallas before finishing at home against Carolina and at Minnesota. The four opponents are a combined 13 games above .500, and all four are in playoff contention.
But the Giants' whipping of the Redskins would seem to underscore that they are not only close to distraction-proof but also capable of blowing through the loss of any one player (with the probable exception of Manning). "We have a lot of guys on this team who are capable of making plays," says Toomer, who caught five passes for 85 yards in the win over Washington.
More practically, the Giants' stability is tied to the line, which as a unit is less prone to the hot and cold streaks of a skill player. "We forget about the last play, the last series, the last game, the last season," says Seubert. "We just worry about the next one."
The Redskins' defense attacked the Giants in precisely the same way that the Cardinals' did a week earlier: with safeties down low near the line of scrimmage, putting eight men in the box to stop the run. "I thought they had 12 men down there at times," says O'Hara. "But that just gave us a chance to prove that we're not a one-dimensional team."
Manning was sacked twice, for a total of nine yards, but often had several seconds to dawdle through his route progressions. On New York's first play of the second quarter he completed a bubble screen to Ward on the right side, and McKenzie and Snee escorted the back on a 48-yard gain, like twin steamrollers moving up the soggy field. The Giants were stuffed for only 28 yards on 15 carries before halftime but got 80 yards on 20 carries in the final two quarters.
"The way they played us, there are going to be negative plays," says Diehl. "Arizona did the same thing. You just keep moving it and moving it, and sooner or later you wear them down and things start to crack for you."
One year after the NFL was identified by celebrity headliners in New England—Brady, Moss, Belichick—the pendulum has swung back. This year's model is star-free, built on a foundation of wide men whose work is measured by their teammates' statistics. "We don't do anything significant," says McKenzie. "We just do our jobs." Here is a working-man's machine that just doesn't break down.