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Redskins Defeat Giants 35-20, Stay In Playoff Hunt

The Redskins are on a roll now.

After years of struggling against NFC East opponents, the Redskins have beaten the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants in successive weeks, staying alive for the postseason with one regular-season game to play.

On Christmas Eve, the Redskins defeated the Giants 35-20 at FedExField for their fourth consecutive victory. The win improved Washington's record to 9-6 and guaranteed the Redskins a winning record for the first time since 1999.

Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Redskins remain one game behind the 10-5 Giants in the NFC East and have the tiebreaker edge over the 9-6 Dallas Cowboys, who the Redskins have beaten twice.

In the second half of Saturday's win over the Giants, backup quarterback Patrick Ramsey took the reins for an injured Mark Brunell and guided the offense to two touchdowns. Brunell sustained a sprained knee injury early in the third quarter and did not return to the game.

For most of the game, the Redskins' defense was able to shut down running back Tiki Barber, who rushed for 206 yards on Oct. 30 in the first meeting between the two teams. This time, Barber was held to 80 yards on 16 carries, with the bulk of his yardage coming on a 31-yard run in the fourth quarter when the Redskins led by 15 points.

On offense, Santana Moss caught five passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns, including a 59-yarder and a 72-yarder. Named to the Pro Bowl last week, Moss showcased his speed to break tackles and burst into open field. It was his first 100-yard receiving game since Week 7 against San Francisco.

Clinton Portis rushed for 108 yards on 27 carries, recording his eighth 100-yard game this season. That set a Redskins franchise record for most 100-yard games in a season, previously held by Rob Goode since 1951.

Brunell was solid in the first half, completing 7-of-11 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Ramsey wrapped up the game by completing 5-of-7 passes for 104 yards and one touchdown.

The Redskins rode the energy and enthusiasm of the capacity FedExField crowd on their first offensive drive. Portis picked up some tough yards and Brunell scrambled for nine yards to pick up a first down.

Brunell then completed key 3rd-down passes to tight end Robert Royal and Moss. Then, with the ball at the Giants' 17-yard line, the Redskins employed one of their most successful plays this season: the wide receiver slant. Moss caught Brunell's pass and turned up-field, following blocking by 6-6, 330-pound lineman Derrick Dockery.

Moss dove into the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown, giving the Redskins an early 7-0 lead.

The Giants responded with a drive of their own, getting on the scoreboard courtesy of a 47-yard field goal by Jay Feely. Quarterback Eli Manning completed passes to wide receiver Amani Toomer and fullback Jim Finn to put the Giants in field goal range.

Midway through the first quarter, the Giants scored again, courtesy of a bad pass by Brunell. Wide receiver James Thrash ran a 10-yard slant pattern, but Brunell did not see middle linebacker Chase Blackburn drifting into the pattern, Blackburn intercepted Brunell's pass and raced 31 yards for a touchdown.

Brunell made up for his gaffe on the Redskins' next offensive drive. He connected with Moss on a 59-yard touchdown pass to give Washington the lead again.

Moss sped past Giants' cornerback Will Allen, then adjusted near the goal line to catch the ball in front of Allen. Moss ran into the end zone for the score and leaped into the FedExField stands to celebrate the Redskins' 14-10 lead.

Midway through the second quarter, linebacker Lemar Marshall intercepted a Manning pass and returned it 27 yards to the Giants' 20-yard line. Marshall had pulled in the pass ahead of tight end Jeremy Shockey and raced down the left sideline.

One play later, Portis took a handoff from Brunell and shifted to the left. He lofted a pass to H-back Chris Cooley, who slipped through coverage and was wide open near the goal line. Cooley hauled in the 17-yard pass on his fingertips and scored easily.

New York was able to narrow the Redskins' lead in the final seconds of the first half. The Giants took advantage of an unnecessary roughness penalty called on Ryan Clark to get into scoring range.

With 17 seconds remaining in the half, Manning rifled a pass to wide receiver Plaxico Burress at the Redskins' 5-yard line, but the lanky Burress could not get a handle on the ball, tipping it behind him. There waited Toomer, who dove to catch the ball in the end zone. It was a 25-yard touchdown catch for Toomer.

On the Redskins' first offensive series of the second half, Brunell was sacked by blitzing linebacker Nick Greisen. Brunell injured his knee on the play. Ramsey immediately began to warm up on the Redskins' sideline and would go on to replace Brunell.

On Ramsey's first series, he completed a pass to Ladell Betts for a first down. Ramsey was forced to burn two time outs on the series when there appeared to be some confusion in the offensive alignment.

Ramsey then threw a deep pass to Santana Moss, who caught the pass ahead of Allen again and broke free for a spectacular 72-yard touchdown catch. The score gave the Redskins a 28-17 lead.

The Redskins' defense limited New York to a 38-yard field goal on the Giants' next possession. Phillip Daniels sacked Manning, then tipped a pass on third down to break up another play, forcing the Giants to settle for three points.

In the fourth quarter, Ramsey guided the Redskins' offense downfield on an impressive drive, completing several passes to Cooley and converting a key third down on a pass to Moss.

Portis finished off the drive with a 19-yard touchdown run, skipping past Allen to break into open field along the left sideline. He out-raced every Giants defender to the goal line, giving Washington a 35-20 lead.

Coming off the field after Portis's touchdown, Ramsey was jubilant, giving high-fives to every offensive player and hugging Royal.

The Redskins' defense fended off the Giants' comeback effort the rest of the way. By game's end, coaches, players and fans were all jubilant.

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