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NY Giants 27, Washington 21

LANDOVER, Md., Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The New York Giants had a season-high six sacks and forced five turnovers Sunday, including a key fumble in the final minutes, as they kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 27-21 victory over the Washington Redskins.

New York surrendered a season-high 476 yards in last week's loss to Tennessee, but bounced back with a strong effort against its NFC East rival.

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Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin led the way with three sacks and cornerback Ralph Brown, who was torched last week, had the game's only interception.

"We stayed relentless with pressure," Griffin said. "We had lost two games in a row and we couldn't afford to lose three. We had to do what we had to do."

"I'm proud of this team. Guys who are usually backups stepped up," Giants Coach Jim Fassel said. "We believed we were going to win and we showed a lot of courage and character by standing up and fighting. Our defense caused the turnovers and the offense converted them."

The Giants scored the game's first 17 points and had a 27-14 lead after Matt Bryant kicked a 35-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. But the Redskins narrowed the gap to 27-21 when Stephen Davis capped a 62-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge with 8:42 left.

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Washington drove into New York territory on its next possession before wide receiver Darnerien McCants fumbled after picking up a first down inside the 30-yard line. Kato Serwanga forced the fumble and Shaun Williams recovered with 4:20 remaining.

It was the second big defensive play of the game for Serwanga, who was waived by the Redskins last week and signed by New York just five days ago.

The Redskins had one last chance, but rookie Patrick Ramsey's "Hail Mary" pass was knocked away in the end zone as time expired.

Kerry Collins threw two touchdowns and Tiki Barber rushed for 96 yards and a score for the Giants (7-6), who trail New Orleans (9-4) and Atlanta (8-4-1) in the NFC wild card race.

"We mixed the run and pass well and even though we (almost) lost the lead, we didn't panic and stuck with the game plan," Barber said.

"It was a great win for us, especially since it was on the road," Fassel said. "Momentum can change quickly as it did today for us. But we kept our focus and got the win."

Collins completed 17 of 31 passes for 212 yards. His favorite target was rookie tight end Jeremy Shockey, who caught five passes for 89 yards.

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Washington starter Danny Wuerffel completed 13 of 19 passes for 159 yards and an interception before leaving in the third quarter with a strained right shoulder. Ramsey took over and was 12 of 27 for 204 yards and a touchdown.

"It was a tough loss," Redskins Coach Steve Spurrier said. "We played well at times but when you turn the ball over five times it's awfully hard to win. We've got to cut down on our mistakes."

"Turnovers are part of the game, we have to put them behind us and keep moving forward," Ramsey said. "I give (the Giants) a lot of credit. They took advantage of our mistakes, mistakes that we have to overcome if we're going to win."

Stephen Davis, who was held to 59 yards against the Giants in Week 11, had 70 yards on only 12 carries.

The Giants took a 17-0 lead on a pair of touchdown passes to fullback Charles Stackhouse and Amani Toomer in the second quarter. But Washington's Jose Cortez kicked two field goals before Ramsey threw a 13-yard score to Rod Gardner in the third quarter to pull the Redskins within 17-13.

New York was forced to punt on its next possession but caught a break when Washington cornerback Champ Bailey fumbled the return. Serwanga recovered the fumble at the 21-yard line and the Giants scored two plays later on a one-yard run by Barber with 85 seconds left in the third.

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