Giants crush Redskins to remain in playoff hunt

By Steve Ginsburg

LANDOVER, Maryland (Reuters) - The New York Giants returned to their imposing early-season form and flattened the Washington Redskins 45-12 on Monday, keeping alive their fragile hopes for a wildcard berth into the playoffs.

Eli Manning led the Giants' charge, completing 19-of-26 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He led the Giants on a key 16-play, 80-yard scoring drive to open the game.

"It was important to get off fast and set the tempo," said Manning, who has thrown for a career-high 26 touchdowns this season. "We set the mood for the night very early."

Washington (4-10) lost to the Giants for the seventh time in their last eight meetings, falling behind 24-0 at the half amid a slew of defensive coverage lapses and poor tackling.

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell completed 15 of 28 passes for 192 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. But much of his success came with the outcome already decided.

Campbell was on the run all night trying to elude the Giants' pass rushers. Much of the 78,000-strong crowd voiced their displeasure with Washington's sputtering offense.

"Everyone was booing but there was nothing open," said Campbell. "There was nothing we could do about it. They were bringing the rush and you get hit."

Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries for New York, who opened the year with five consecutive wins but then lost six of their next eight.

NO GLOSSING OVER

The Giants (8-6) are a game behind the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers in the battle for a wildcard berth with two games remaining. Two of those teams will grab wildcard slots.

"We came in and dominated on all sides -- offense, defense and special teams," said Giants tight end Kevin Boss.

"It gave us confidence going into this final stretch of the season. We're going to be a scary team if we get in (to the playoffs)."

The Redskins were playing their first game under new general manager Bruce Allen, who was hired last week to replace the fired Vinny Cerrato.

"I've got nothing to try and gloss over," said Redskins coach Jim Zorn, whose job is widely believed to be in jeopardy. "It was a pretty bad game and it's frustrating for me.

"It got away from us early. We're still searching for that fifth win and I can say it still hurts."

Bradshaw said the Giants were determined to return to their early season form, when they looked the best team in the NFC.

"We want to be back playing at that caliber," he said. "This was a must-win. We needed this one. It feels great."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)