Paul Tabor, Giant right defensive end, had not been much of a factor all day. His outside rushes toward Joe Theismann were constantly thwarted by Redskin offensive tackle Mark May or several other blocking backs. With one major exception.
On second and 10 from his own 20-yard line, with less than three minutes remaining and the Redskins trailing, 10-7, Theismann dropped straight back and looked for an open receiver. The Giants decided to blitz with outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
That forced Redskin fullback Wilbur Jackson to pick up Taylor, and Tabor to meet May one on one.
"I knew before the snap it was a big play," Tabor said. "So I decided to do something different and go inside of May. I could afford to do that since the running back would be occupied with our outside linebacker. So I gave May a good head fake to the outside, and went inside. He missed me, and I had a clear shot at Theismann."
Tabor tackled Theismann from the blind side to record his first sack this year. The ball popped loose around the 10. Left end George Martin picked up the fumble and carried it into the end zone for a touchdown and the final 17-7 margin.
"We put our guards on their linebackers but we didn't get it done," Redskin Coach Joe Gibbs said afterward. "In general, we're not playing good football."
About his touchdown, Martin said, "Phil gave Theismann such a good shot that the rest was easy. I didn't think I'd score though, because I fumbled the ball around before I picked it up. And I thought their offensive players would catch me before I could run in.
"My blazing 5.5 speed helped me," quipped the 6-foot-4, 245-pound lineman. Martin, a seven-year pro from Oregon, has scored against the Redskins before, in 1977, when he intercepted a Theismann pass and ran it back 30 yards.
"George stole my glory," said Tabor, who recorded only three sacks last season. "I could see I was going to have a clear shot at Theismann even before the ball was snapped. We had more defensive people coming after Theismann than they had on that side to block."
The Giants had said publicly all week that they could come to Washington and beat the Redskins, even if New York's offense is among the worst in the NFL. "No. 1, we know they're in a rebuilding process with a new coach," Martin said. "And two, we know their offensive line is young and inexperienced."
The Giants rushed three men against four much of the game, but still put good pressure on Theismann, sacking him three times.
"After halftime, I was prepared for the defense to carry the whole team," Martin said of the scoreless tie entering the second half. "I thought, 'We'll stick with it until the offense comes around.' " The offense didn't really come around yesterday, but the defense scored one touchdown and a fumble by Mike Nelms, the Redskins' punt returner, set up the other Giant touchdown.
Bill Currier's fourth quarter interception stopped another Washington drive. "I read what they were doing," Currier said. "I just hung around the tight end until Joe released the ball."
"After Currier's interception I knew they'd start folding," linebacker Taylor said. "We had them then. It was our time. We jumped on them and the game came to us."
"We gave the Redskin line a lot of different looks," Tabor said. "We out executed them on stunts and blitzes. We didn't beat them up physically like the Cowboys did last week."
Linebacker Brad Van Pelt said, "We didn't want to blitz a lot. But because of their young offensive line, if the situation called for it, we were ready to blitz if we had to."
"There's no question it was a defensive victory," said Giant Coach Ray Perkins. "The defense played outstanding for the most part. The defense won the ball game. It's that simple."