Un­think­able and un­for­get­table

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - THOM LOVERRO

The Washington Red­skins can’t lose to the New York Giants Sun­day af­ter­noon in the reg­u­lar sea­son fi­nale at FedEx Field. They can’t lose. I mean they “can’t” lose. You get it? The Red­skins, with a play­off po­si­tion at stake (pend­ing the out­come of the Sun­day night Green Bay Pack­ers-Detroit Lions game, in which only a tie elim­i­nates Washington), are play­ing at home against an op­po­nent in the Giants that has ab­so­lutely noth­ing to play for.

This is not a team with noth­ing to play for but pride, some los­ing group of play­ers want­ing to up­set the NFL play­off cart.

The Giants are a team hop­ing to see the clock strike zero Sun­day evening with­out any dam­age or de­struc­tion as a re­sult of this last game.

So how can the Washington Red­skins lose? Se­ri­ously.

They can dress this game up all they want as some sort of real foot­ball con­test, but for the Giants, the only pur­pose this game serves is that of a pre­sea­son prepa­ra­tion game for their play­off op­po­nents. Just ask Giants re­ceiver Vic­tor Cruz.

“I think of­fen­sively we just want to, you know, get some things go­ing a lit­tle bit, get our of­fense go­ing, get some rhythm as we go through these games and make sure that we’re sharp for the first week of the playoffs and make sure that we’re click­ing kind of on all cylin­ders,” Cruz told re­porters this week .”But we want to go out there and put some drives to­gether, put some points on the board and take it from there.”

That sounds like a pre­sea­son game plan to me.

Giants (10-5) coach Ben McA­doo tried his best to make this seem like a game that mat­ters to his team more than it ac­tu­ally does.

He was asked by re­porters who would play Sun­day — a ques­tion not nor­mally asked of a team with some­thing to play for. It’s a pre­sea­son ques­tion.

“The 53-man ros­ter,” McA­doo replied. “We’ll ac­ti­vate 46 and we’ll go from there. The whole … the starters are go­ing to play. I don’t know any other way to do it.”

Ex­cept of course, when it’s the fourth pre­sea­son game. Then it seems McA­doo does know an­other way to do it. Ryan Nas­sib was the start­ing quar­ter­back for the Giants in that game. He was the backup quar­ter­back for the Giants un­til un­der­go­ing el­bow surgery sev­eral weeks ago. You’ll see an oldie — jour­ney­man Josh John­son — at quar­ter­back for the Giants most of the time Sun­day.

How much Josh John­son? McA­doo was asked how long the starters would play.

“They’re go­ing to play the game,” he an­swered.

Again, McA­doo was asked if starters would play the en­tire game, and he re­sponded, “The game, yes, the game.”

Bill Belichick’s mum­bling re­sponses are more en­ter­tain­ing.

His own play­ers aren’t buy­ing into this “the game, yes, the game” an­swer.

Cruz said he “thinks” they are buy­ing in. “We’re go­ing into the game know­ing or think­ing that we’re all go­ing to play and go­ing in with that mind­set and go­ing in with the mind­set of de­feat­ing a di­vi­sion ri­valry and tak­ing it from there,” he said. “I don’t think, you know, at least he [McA­doo] doesn’t want to put it in our heads that, you know, some­one is not go­ing to play or what­ever the case may be be­cause you just want to keep ev­ery­body men­tally into the game and mak­ing sure that we’re com­ing in all ev­ery­thing all guns blaz­ing and take it from there.”

His mind must have been else­where when Cruz told the Daily News about his team’s Su­per Bowl plans.

“They (New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots) don’t want to see us,” Cruz said. “I’m sure they don’t want to see us ... for it to be round three, us and them in an­other epic Su­per Bowl show­down, it’d be for all the mar­bles. The third time is when, I mean, they’ll have a lot rid­ing on it, we will have a lot rid­ing on it. It’ll just be one of those mo­ments you (couldn’t) forget.”

First, though, there are the Washington Red­skins (8-6-1) on Sun­day. Ex­cept that’s not first. It’s noth­ing, mean­ing­less. What­ever hap­pens Sun­day will have zero im­pact on Cruz’s vi­sion of a Giants-Pa­tri­ots Su­per Bowl re­match.

Ex­cept of course if McA­doo ac­tu­ally plays his starters for any length of time Sun­day — and one of them gets hurt. That could im­pact Cruz’s Su­per Bowl vi­sion.

If McA­doo needed any re­mind­ing of how fool­ish it would be to play his starter more than a se­ries Sun­day, he should just watch a video of Oak­land quar­ter­back Derek Carr go­ing down with a bro­ken leg last Satur­day — over and over again, in case he has ridicu­lous no­tions of pro­tect­ing the in­tegrity of the game Sun­day by play­ing his starters for any length of time. That would be a fire­able of­fense. The Red­skins, on the other hand, as we know, have ev­ery­thing to play for. Coach Jay Gru­den tried to play along with McA­doo when he told re­porters, “I know they (the Giants) have a very good foot­ball team and that’s the im­por­tant thing. Once they get off the plane and they get out here Sun­day af­ter­noon, they’re go­ing to play to win. That’s the only way to play foot­ball. And I know Coach McA­doo will have them ready to play, and we have to be ready also.”

Please. If the Washington Red­skins lose to the New York Giants Sun­day, it would be ar­guably the worst loss in decades for this fran­chise.

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