LANDOVER, Md. – The New York Giants' short-handed defense performed about as well as could be expected. Their typically potent offense sputtered.
"Offensively, we didn't do a thing," Coughlin said of the team's 102-yard output in the second half.
The Giants, who ended a six-game winning streak over the Redskins and lost at Washington for the first time since 2005, converted just 1 of 10 third downs, including 0 for 6 in the second half. Most costly, Eli Manning threw a pass Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan batted, intercepted and returned 9 yards for a touchdown, breaking a 14-14 tie and shifting the momentum early in the third quarter.
"Both sides of the ball have got to do their part," said Manning, who completed 18 of 32 passes for 268 yards and ran for a touchdown. "I thought our defense played really good tonight. They did a lot of good things and got us a turnover and stopped Washington for a good part of the game.
"We've got to do our part."
The Giants were missing four defensive players who started 16 games last season — defensive end Justin Tuck, middle linebacker Jonathan Goff, defensive end Osi Umenyiora and cornerback Terrell Thomas — as well as first-round pick Prince Amukamara, a cornerback. But New York sacked Rex Grossman four times, and Jason Pierre-Paul forced a fumble during his second sack.
The Giants comeback attempt fizzled when their fourth-quarter drives stalled because of poor passing and blocking. Ahmad Bradshaw was thrown for a 1-yard loss on third-and-1 at Washington's 18 with the Giants trailing by seven. The ensuring field goal attempt was blocked.
Coughlin called New York's late-game offense "totally unacceptable."
Bradshaw finished with just 44 yards, and Brandon Jacobs ran for only 29.
Grossman, making his first Week 1 start since 2007, completed 21 of 34 passes for 305 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His performance, at least for a week, justifies coach Mike Shanahan's choice in a quarterback competition against John Beck that lasted the entire preseason. After an 0 for 4 start, Grossman started spreading the ball around, topped by Fred Davis's career-high 105 yards on five catches.
"I know it means so much to Rex," said Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, who had a Saturday dinner with Grossman during which both expressed their opening day nerves. "He wants to be an outstanding quarterback. ... He deserved to play so well today. I'm so happy for him."
A stadium of burgundy and gold became red, white and blue — in color and in spirit — during pregame ceremonies for the opener featuring the cities hit by the terrorists attacks 10 years ago. Chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" greeted former Secretary of State Colin Powell as he walked onto the field to perform the coin toss, and the fans — most holding miniature American flags — chanted again after a national anthem during which players from both teams helped hold an enormous version of the Stars and Stripes that covered the entire field.
"Any typical kickoff weekend, your emotions are high," Grossman said. "Being it's Sept. 11, 10th anniversary, Colin Powell's in the locker room giving you the pregame speech, and then coming out and the fans are chanting 'U-S-A.' I was overwhelmed. It was a fun day. It's a day I'll never forget."
The Giants will have to relive it quite a few times this week, reviewing the film to fix the mistakes. At least the defense hopes to have Tuck return for the next game against the St. Louis Rams on Monday night.
"That's the plan," Tuck said. "It's going to be pretty hard to hold me out two weeks in a row."
Notes: Manning made his 111th consecutive start, taking over top spot among active QBs from brother Peyton Manning, whose run of 227 for Indianapolis came to end because of a neck injury. ... Armstrong has three of his four career TDs in three games against the Giants.