LANDOVER, Md., Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Signed earlier in the week, Eric Metcalf returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown and receiver Kevin Lockett threw a 31-yard scoring pass Sunday to lead the Washington Redskins to a 35-21 victory over the struggling New York Giants.
It was the second straight win for the Redskins (2-5) and third straight loss for the Giants (3-4).
Metcalf gave the Redskins a 14-0 lead with 6:06 left in the first quarter when he broke one tackle in the middle of the field before racing to the right sideline and into the end zone. Mitcalf's 12 career touchdown returns are an NFL record.
"I thought I would get a pretty good return and then I saw guys falling down in front of me because our blockers were getting out there," Metcalf said. "That gave me an alley to cut back and get up the field."
"That was the biggest play of the year if you ask me," Washington quarterback Tony Banks said about Metcalf's return. "A great coach's decision to bring him in here. I've played with him before so I know what he's capable of."
Washington, which scored just 49 points in its first six games, posted its highest point total since a 35-16 victory at Jacksonville last Oct. 22.
Banks completed 11 of 19 passes for 190 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Stephen Davis carried 29 times for 107 yards for the Redskins. It was the first 100-yard rushing performance of the season for Davis, who was coming off consecutive 99-yard outings.
"The whole team feels confident right now," Banks said. "The Giants are a good team. Today we made plays on both offense and defense. Every successful quarteback is going to need the theat of the run. If you have the threat of the run you are able to add so much to your passing game."
Kerry Collins threw touchdown passes to Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard in the second quarter for New York to tie the score, 14-14. But the Redskins took the lead for good when Brett Conway kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
On Washington's first possession in the second half, Lockett caught a lateral from Banks and found fellow receiver Derrius Thompson wide open up the left sideline for a 31-yard touchdown and a 24-14 lead.
"That's a play we worked on all week," Lockett said. "Surprisingly it really didn't work throughout the whole week. But when I caught the ball Derrius was running his route. It was a great route and everybody came up. It wasn't a perfect spiral, but it got there."
Collins was 32 of 52 for 346 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted once and fumbled on the first possession of the game. Running backs Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber, who both have battled injuries over the last few weeks, combined for just 33 yards on 15 carries.
"We can't play football the way we're playing right now and expect to win," New York coach Jim Fassel said. "Washington came out and played a good solid game. You can't start a game with a fumble and put them on a short field. You can't allow special teams to return for touchdowns. You can't get beat deep out of a blown coverage, that's 21 points. I'm not taking it away from Washington. They played well, they beat us."
Defensive end Kenard Lang recovered a fumble by Collins at the New York 18-yard line and two plays later Banks threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to rookie Rod Gardner for a 7-0 lead. It was just the fourth touchdown by the Washington offense this season.
Washington pushed the lead to 27-14 when Conway kicked a 20-yard field goal with 3:23 remaining in the third.
Collins directed a 12-play, 72-yard drive that he capped with a one-yard pass to fullback Greg Comella to pull the Giants within six points 62 seconds into the fourth.
Michael Westbrook had just 16 receptions for 152 yards in the first six games. But Westbrook burned cornerback Jason Sehorn for a 76-yard touchdown and Banks completed a pass to fullback Donnell Bennett for the two-point conversion and a 35-21 lead with 6:41 remaining.
"Bad guess, bad play," Sehorn said. "I was thinking something else and I was wrong. The last five third-down plays, they were running plays to the sticks."
Giants defensive end Michael Strahan had two sacks and set an NFL record for most sacks in a five-game span with 12 1/2. Since 1982 when sacks became an official statistic, two players -- Richard Dent in 1984 and the late Derrick Thomas in 1997 and 1998 -- each had 12 sacks in a five-game span.