This would be a good week for the Washington Redskins to ask for shorter workouts. If the two big plays in their latest victory are any indication, practice is overrated.
Eric Metcalf was signed on Wednesday and practiced maybe a half-dozen punt returns, none at full speed, before his 89-yard touchdown runback in the first quarter Sunday.
Receiver Kevin Lockett said his option pass ``never works in practice,'' yet the play was immaculate as he hit wide open Derrius Thompson for a 31-yard touchdown in the third quarter of the 35-21 victory over the New York Giants.
``I was kind of shocked when he called it in the game,'' said Lockett, who had never thrown an NFL pass. ``I just didn't want it to slide off my hand and go out of bounds or something. It wasn't a perfect spiral, but it did its job.''
Said quarterback Tony Banks: ``I don't know how crazy I am about it, though. Now we've got a receiver with a higher QB rating than mine.''
Whatever the method, the Redskins (2-5) have won two in a row after an 0-5 start. Meanwhile, the Giants (3-4), losers of three straight, looked like a team that daydreamed through practice all week. Numerous unforced errors left coach Jim Fassel in the mood to shake things up.
``I'm responsible for everything,'' Fassel said. ``My fault, and I'll take it that way. I'll change whatever I need to change. Whatever I can change, I will.''
The Giants' miscues helped get the Redskins going, but coach Marty Schottenheimer also opened up the offense. In addition to Lockett's pass, which gave Washington a 24-14 lead in the third quarter, Michael Westbrook beat Jason Sehorn on a 67-yard fly pattern to seal the victory in the fourth.
``We're finally starting to put the points on the board,'' said receiver Rod Gardner, who had a 12-yard TD catch to open the scoring. ``You can see we ain't holding back nothing. We're pulling everything out of the bag.''
And it was more than enough to beat the defending NFC champions, who did a good job of beating themselves.
Amani Toomer fumbled a handoff on a reverse at New York's 17 on the opening drive to set up Gardner's touchdown. Kerry Collins missed a pitch on a flea-flicker with Ike Hilliard wide open downfield. Rodney Williams shanked an 18-yard punt. There were dropped passes and needless penalties, including three - offsides, illegal procedure and a personal foul - on the second-half kickoff.
``If we think we can just show up on the field and win football games just because we were in the Super Bowl last year, it's just not going to happen.'' Collins said.
Metcalf, who sat out last year, made a superb against-the-grain cut at midfield to put the Redskins ahead 14-0. It was his 10th punt return for a touchdown, extending his NFL record, and it moved him ahead of Brian Mitchell for most combined kick-punt return TDs with 12. Before Metcalf's touchdown, the Redskins had just 12 yards on punt returns all season.
Collins threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter, a 6-yarder to Toomer and a 27-yarder to Hilliard, to tie it before Washington's Brett Conway kicked a 43-yard field goal as the half expired.
Thompson's touchdown gave the Redskins a 10-point lead, and Conway's 20-yard field goal made it 27-14. The Giants responded with a 72-yard drive capped by fullback Greg Comella's 1-yard touchdown catch, but Westbrook's TD put the game out of reach.