Brad Johnson and Norv Turner can stop looking over their shoulders, at least for another week.
Johnson, under fire with owner Daniel Snyder's $100 million team off to a slow start, passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns as the Washington Redskins finally showed some Super Bowl form and might have saved Turner's job in the process by beating the New York Giants 16-6 Sunday night.
"I think Brad shut everyone up and I wish everyone would be man and woman enough to say so," Redskins cornerback Deion Sanders said after Johnson answered the call following a week of criticism in the wake of losses to Detroit and Dallas.
Johnson wasn't nearly as colorful as "Prime Time" when asked about his own situation. He said he had been dwelling more about the team than himself.
"It was a game, in a way, our back was against the wall," said Johnson, who completed 14 of 20 passes, including bombs of 53, 48 and 46 yards. "We felt like we had to come up here and find a way to win, and we did."
Johnson's touchdown passes covered 23 yards to Irving Fryar in the second quarter and 21 to Andre Reed early in the third. His 48-yard strike to Albert Connell, who had four catches for 122 yards, set up a 25-yard field goal by Michael Husted.
While it was only the fourth week of the season, this was a must-win game for the Redskins (2-2) if they had any realistic hope of catching the Giants (3-1) and winning the NFC East again.
"They put the schedule together and they give you 16 games, and you're going to play 16," Turner said. "We let a couple slip away. We got one tonight. You can regroup and get ready for the next one. If you win enough when the thing is done, then you keep playing. If you don't, then you go home."
With an antsy owner like Snyder, Turner may not have had the chance to play 16 unless the Redskins started winning.
However, Washington played like a desperate team. Not only did Johnson silence those critics calling for free agent Jeff George to take over at quarterback, but the Redskins defense shut down Kerry Collins and a Giants offense that looked potent in the first three weeks of the season.
"They just flat out outplayed us," said Collins, who was sacked four times for 42 yards in losses. "They were quicker, had more tempo and executed better. I think we got lulled into thinking it was pretty easy, and if there is a lesson here, it's that it isn't easy.
"We simply didn't play like a championship team," Collins added. "Washington is one of the best teams in the league and they kicked our butts."'
Collins, who was hitting 71.3 percent of his passes coming into the game, finished 21-of-44 for 210 yards. He also saw Sanders kill a drive early in the fourth quarter with an interception in the end zone.
New York didn't score until Ike Hilliard caught a 7-yard touchdown pass in the closing minutes.
Not only did Washington limit Collins, but there wasn't much thunder and lightning out of the Giants backfield, either.
Tiki Barber, leading the NFL in rushing with 326 yards, gained 65 yards on 16 carries, while Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne had 23 yards on five carries.
The key for the Redskins was winning the battle up front against the Giants' revamped offensive line.
Johnson needed two series to warm up, but once he got going the Redskins started eating up yards in chunks against a defense that hadn't given up a play longer than 31 yards in its first three games.
Faced with a third-and-2 on the Washington 31 early in the second quarter, Johnson got Giants corner Dave Thomas to bite on a pump fake, and James Thrash made a diving catch on a 46-yard pass. On the next play, Johnson caught safety Sam Garnes guessing on another pump fake and found a wide-open Fryar in the end zone for a 7-0 lead, capping a seven-play, 92-yard drive.
A 13-yard sack by Marco Coleman forced a New York punt on the next series and Washington came right back with the long pass to Connell, setting up Husted's field goal.
Washington pretty much wrapped up the game with a four-play, 81-yard drive in the third quarter.
Johnson hit Connell for 53 yards and followed that with the touchdown pass to Reed.
"I talked to the coaches and I told the team this morning they are going to go deep," Giants coach Jim Fassel said. "I read all the comments all week about everything they said. They were going deep."
New York finally got on the board with 2:25 to go on a 13-play, 86-yard drive that Collins capped with his pass to Hilliard. Dayne was stopped short on the 2-point conversion.
"I felt like we were ready coming into it, but for whatever reason we didn't make plays," Fassel said.