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  Frustrated Giants See Tie as a Lost Opportunity

By Dave Klein
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, November 24, 1997; Page D10

New York Giants Coach Jim Fassel almost smiled in the locker room at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium last night, then he tried to analyze his team's 7-7 tie with the Washington Redskins that left the Giants feeling at a loss.

"I guess the tie doesn't hurt as much as a loss would have, but we wanted the win real bad," said Fassel, whose team maintained its one-game lead over the Redskins in the NFC East. "Our defense did a magnificent job, got us the ball by creating turnovers, but we couldn't take advantage. It was very frustrating."

Fassel was particularly frustrated with his team's offense, which tallied 262 yards and failed to score in the first half or the overtime period. Second-year quarterback Danny Kanell, who had excelled after replacing Dave Brown in the season's fifth game, completed 20 of 37 pass attempts for 168 yards.

"There were times when he held the ball too long," Fassel said of Kanell. "It was one of those games dominated by the defenses. Theirs played great, so did ours, and the offenses were left to fend for themselves. If I was either offensive coordinator, I'd have been very frustrated."

Kanell acknowledged his team's lack of offensive production. The defense provided several opportunities, intercepting Redskins backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler three times to little avail.

"I'm really upset," Kanell said. "I don't know how to deal with a tie. To me, and to the guys on the team, it feels like a loss. As far as I'm concerned, that's how it feels. "The defense gave us plenty of chances and we screwed up most of them. Hey, the only points the Redskins got we gave them with a turnover.

"Coach said I held the ball too long? Well, maybe. But nobody was open. It was the kind of game where you deal with the field position and the down and distance, and you learn that it has to be conservative, cautious. I don't like playing that way, but it's what they [the Redskins] forced us to do."

Kanell fumbled in the second quarter on one of four sacks by linebacker Ken Harvey. The Redskins drove 26 yards in five plays, scoring on Gus Frerotte's one-yard run. Frerotte injured his neck celebrating the touchdown and Hostetler, a former Giant, stepped in.

The Giants had many reasons to laugh at other gaffes by the Redskins, including a foolish penalty picked up by wide receiver Michael Westbrook in overtime.

Westbrook, angry that he had been ruled out-of-bounds on a pass he caught, threw his helmet to the ground, drawing a 15-yard penalty that cost the Redskins a possible game-winning field goal.

"From summer training camp on, the coaches beat that into our heads, that you can't take off the helmet," said cornerback Jason Sehorn. "It's just a bad, emotional reaction, out of control. And it came at a really bad time for them."

The Giants (7-4-1) left no worse than when they arrived with only four games to play. They will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home next Sunday.

A tie, however, is never as good as a victory.

"I feel like I just kissed my sister," joked tight end Howard Cross. "I'm going to apologize to the defensive guys. They were spectacular."

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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