EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Just your typical holiday party, where the guests showed up empty-handed.
That hardly bothered the hosts, who rocked the place. And their reluctant visitors.
The Redskins rolled into New Meadowlands Stadium without half of their starting secondary, minus any running backs of note and with defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth deactivated because he did not practice Friday, head coach Mike Shanahan said.
They wobbled away, punched out in this giant, new punch bowl, by the New York Giants.
The Giants (8-4) kept pace with the Philadelphia Eagles atop the AFC East. The Redskins (5-7) dropped a second consecutive game and can all but abandon the flickering flame of playoff hopes they tried to fan last week with their talking of running the table.
Run the table? They got run out of the stadium, allowing 197 yards on the ground.
The Redskins fell 31-7. Fell hard. They lost for a fifth consecutive time to the Giants, for an eighth time in nine meetings, and they lost their reason for being, at least so far as the remaining four games go. Sure, they can play for pride and they can play for their jobs next season but how does that make December worthwhile?
The Giants had scored two touchdowns on this breezy, wintry afternoon before any other team in the NFL had scored one. Two possessions, two scores, virtually identical drives. Fifty eight yards on seven plays on the first, 59 on seven on the second, with Brandon Jacobs scoring from eight yards out on the initial possession and Ahmad Bradshaw from the 4-yard line on the second.
We may never know what the Redskins would be like if they played with a lead. We know way too much about them trying to come from behind.
It ain't pretty.
The Giants rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns … in the first half. They lost a chance at another touchdown when Eli Manning made a terrible throw into the end zone and London Fletcher turned it into a beautiful interception.
The Redskins, however, gave the ball back on a fumble by Anthony Armstrong, setting up the Giants for that third score and a 21-0 lead at the break.
Had this gotten any uglier, it might have sprouted snakes from its head and turned innocent viewers into stone. Yes, the Medusa of football.
Another turnover midway through the third quarter set up Jacobs for a 28-yard touchdown run that included breaking the tackling attempts of Kevin Barnes and Reed Doughty. Then McNabb threw an interception in the end zone and all hope vanished.
Fuggedaboutit, as they say in Joisey. Broken tackles, broken dreams.
The Redskins tackled poorly. Missed assignments. Got very mixed results from personnel.
Without Haynesworth, the defensive front put no pressure on Manning, who went a fifth consecutive game without being sacked, even with three regulars missing from his offensive line. Without Landry, the secondary missed its best blitzer and explosive tackler. The sum of the parts equaled the whole and the whole didn't equal much at all.
Stephon Heyer played most of the game at left tackle for Trent Williams and went poorly. He gave up a couple of sacks and had a false start penalty that turned a third-and-two into something five yards worse. He didn't so much get beaten by the Giants' speed rushers as spun around like some gigantic pinwheel.
Six turnovers. One takeaway. That's enough to tilt the scoreboard. Pouring battery acid into the wound was former Redskin Devin Thomas' deflected punt that led to a Giants field goal. Thomas may have had deficiencies as a receiver and as a student of the playbook but he got his bit of payback.
Even with a little flash by running back James Davis, the Redskins failed to rush the football enough in the first half and then, as they fell behind, couldn't really try to run it at all. That left McNabb at the mercy of the Giants' pass rush, which sacked him four times.
By the middle of the third quarter, the Giants appeared to be bored by the Redskins' inability to escape membership in the "One Touchdown A Week" club. This game, last game, the game before, that's all the Redskins mustered.
At the end, the fans made an early exit, more eager to see the New Jersey Turnpike than the anticlimactic termination of this lopsided pounding. They'll return to see their team in the playoff hunt, competing in meaningful games through the mean month of December.
The Redskins? Well, they've still got four games left as well. They could finish 9-7. They could finish 5-11. They could finish somewhere in between. They've got the playoff-minded Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming to FedExField, a visit to the AFC South-leading Jacksonville Jaguars on the Christmas weekend, and one last crack at the Giants on the day after New Year's. Yes, there's a visit to Dallas to play the Cowboys as well.
Perhaps they can spoil things for others. They've spoiled it for themselves.
Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for Redskins.com and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at Redskinsrule.com and follow him on Twitter.com/LarryWeisman.