By Steve Ginsburg
LANDOVER, Maryland (Reuters) - The Washington Redskins took the first step in breaking their three-year stranglehold on last place in the NFC East by cruising past the rival New York Giants 28-14 on Sunday.
Rex Grossman overcame a slow start to complete 21 of 34 passes for 305 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions to help the Redskins snap a six-game losing streak to the Giants.
Washington took control two minutes into the second half when rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan batted an Eli Manning pass into the air, intercepted it, and rambled nine yards for the score to give the Redskins a 21-14 lead.
The Redskins put the game on ice when Grossman hit Jabar Gaffney on a four-yard scoring pass with five minutes left to give success-starved Washington their final two-TD cushion.
Grossman, an oft-criticized eight-year NFL veteran looking to resurrect his career in Washington, refused to take credit for the season-opening victory.
"Our defense dominated," said Grossman, who spent the first six years of his career with the Chicago Bears. "They scored a touchdown themselves and kept them scoreless in the second half. They did a great job."
Manning, sacked four times and pressured by the Redskins' defense all day, completed 18 of 32 passes for 268 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
New York was successful on just one of 10 third-down situations.
"Our third downs were atrocious," grumbled Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who recognised the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks by donning an NYPD cap in the first half and an FDNY one in the second to honor New York City's police and fire departments.
"Our inconsistency and our lack of third-down production -- you're not going to keep the ball if you can't do something with it on third down."
Manning engineered the first touchdown of the game with a two-yard bootleg to cap a four-play, 70-yard drive, before Washington's newly acquired running back Tim Hightower countered with a one-yard TD to knot the score at 7-7.
New York regained the lead on a six-yard TD by tailback Ahmad Bradshaw but the Redskins evened the score once again when Anthony Armstrong broke free from cornerback Aaron Ross and scored on a six-yard pass just 37 seconds before halftime.
The Giants will look to notch their first win of the season on September 19 when they host the St. Louis Rams.
"I am very disappointed," said Giants veteran guard Chris Snee. "After I watch the film I am going to move on because I have to. There are 15 more games. This is no time to panic."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)