Getty Images - Streeter Lecka
LANDOVER, Md. – With Plaxico Burress home in New Jersey healing up from his self-inflicted gunshot wound, all eyes turned to Antonio Pierce, the other man confirmed to be involved in last Friday’s wild night in Manhattan. Not surprisingly, New York’s defensive leader didn’t disappoint.
“I think Antonio focused on playing once we got here and he played well,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
Pierce, who was New York’s third-leading tackler with six solo stops and also batted away a Jason Campbell pass, said he wasn’t distracted in the least by all the off-field hoopla.
“The distraction game was a win, 23-7,” Pierce smiled.
He said allowing off-field concerns to affect his play wasn’t even an option.
“At one o’clock on Sunday afternoon I had a game to play,” number 58 said. “It’s my job to play. I am a professional football player and my job is to focus on the game and the challenge at hand.”
Pierce and his mates rose to the greatest challenge, stopping Clinton Portis, whom they held to a mere 22 rushing yards.
“That was our job to make sure that we stopped him,” Pierce said. “It was a very physical game against a very good Washington team.”
While Pierce refused to discuss Burress’ situation, it was obvious that Burress’ teammates rallied around his absence.
“His health is definitely what’s been on everybody’s mind,” Eli Manning said. “We all hope he has a speedy recovery. He’s a friend, he’s a teammate, and that’s all we’re worried about. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he’s around here soon and in the locker room because everyone would like to see him.”
“We’re a band of brothers,” Danny Clark added. “One of our guys wasn’t here. We played for him. We want his health to be the number one priority.”
At press time, it seemed likely that Burress was going to turn himself in to the New York Police Department on Monday. As for his health situation, that appeared to be anyone’s guess. While he was released from the hospital after only one day, no one seemed to know how quickly he would be able to return to action. At this time, however, that appears to be a moot point, as a suspension will likely knock him from the lineup a lot quicker and longer than any injury.
One thing law enforcement officials will be looking to find out is the identity of the reported third member of the Giants in New York City with Burress and Pierce. Derrick Ward, rumored to be the man, didn’t exactly exonerate himself when he caught himself mid-sentence after the game. Ward started an answer that appeared to be headed toward placing himself at the scene of the crime, before biting his tongue and changing gears.
Pierce wasn’t about to get ahead of himself regarding the team’s 11-1 start, which was the first time in franchise history that Big Blue kicked off a season by winning 11 of its first 12 games.
“It feels good, but we don’t have an asterisk by our name for a division or playoff spot yet and until we do we haven’t reached our goals yet,” he said. “We still have a lot to prove.”
Pass the test
Brandon Jacobs came out of the Washington victory in great shape. A week after being sidelined in Arizona due to a knee injury, Jacobs was back out there battering around defenders.
“I felt really good actually,” he said. “I felt better than I thought I would.”
Jacobs led the Giants with 71 yards on 21 carries and the game-sealing 1-yard touchdown run.
Extending the lead
With this victory, the Giants now lead the all-time regular-season series with the Redskins, 87-61-4, including a 16-7 opening-night victory on Sept. 4. New York is now 6-5-1 in FedEx Field.
Alford gets start
With Fred Robbins unable to play due to his shoulder injury, Jay Alford got the start at DT. RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) and LB Jonathan Goff (hamstring) were also inactive, as was K Lawrence Tynes, CB Sam Madison, OT Adam Koets and DE Jerome McDougle. Oh, we almost forgot the Giants’ final inactive player. Perhaps you’ve heard by now that Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg. However, he was officially inactive due to his sore hamstring. Domenik Hixon started in his place and caught five passes for 71 yards. Alford posted two stops, including one for a loss.
The Giants placed veteran safety Sammy Knight on injured reserve and signed defensive tackle Jeremy Clark off their practice squad.
Knight, a 12-year veteran who was signed by the Giants on March 4, has been battling through a hip condition all season. He was inactive in Arizona, the second time this season he did not suit up. When Knight was inactive at Cleveland on Oct. 13, it ended his streak of 160 consecutive games played.
Knight played in nine games and was credited with 13 tackles (eight solo) and four special teams tackles.
Prior to joining the Giants, Knight played for New Orleans, Miami, Kansas City and Jacksonville.
Clark, 6-3, 309, originally joined the Giants as a free agent on July 27. He was waived on Aug. 30 and signed to the practice squad the following day.
Clark spent the 2007 season on the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad. A four-year starter at Alabama, Clark registered 85 tackles, 4.5 sacks and eight tackles for losses for the Crimson Tide.
After the game Tom Coughlin mentioned the solid play of Clark, who posted two assisted tackles against Washington. Needless to say, Clark was just happy to get a shot.
“I felt pretty good,” he said. “It’s good to play the game that you love. I’ve been on the practice squad for two years.”
It didn’t take long for Clark to “get the jitters out,” as he was involved in a solid multiple-defender pass rush on Jason Campbell on one of his first snaps.
“It was a humbling experience to be amongst guys you’ve seen on TV,” he said.
After a solid – and victorious – debut, Clark just hopes there’s more where that came from.
“I hope I get more opportunities,” he said. “The win put the icing on the cake.”