Scott Brunner walked toward the tunnel and away from defeat late today. A hometown fan called him a bum. Blood flowed from his chin.

Because Brunner's offensive line could not contain the Redskins' pass rush, the butterfly bandages could not contain the blood rush. The New York Giants' quarterback limped slightly, too. Defeat never arrives softly.

"The (Redskins') defensive line was coming off the ball so fast," Brunner said. "There was a lot of pressure."

By the time most of his teammates had left the locker room, stitches had replaced the bandages. But nothing could bandage Washington 27, New York 17. That was irreparable.

"You would look at Scott in the huddle," said tight end Gary Shirk, "and you thought two things. One, you work harder for him. Two, you know you're having a bad day."

The Giants are having a bad year. They are 0-3. There was Atlanta (16-14) first, Green Bay (27-19) next. Now Washington had whisked by them.

"It puts us in a hole," said Coach Ray Perkins. "We have to win the next six games. It's that simple. No, I don't think we're out of it."

"Not only did we dig a hole for ourselves," Shirk said, "but everybody is kicking dirt on us now."

All three losses have come at Giants Stadium. Home, home where the boobirds roam. "I think we play better on the road," linebacker Lawrence Taylor said, perhaps with reason, perhaps with hope. He added, "Our backs aren't against the wall now. They are behind it."

In the locker room of consolation, there was consensus: Joe Theismann was the antagonist, the primary reason for defeat. When Theismann rolled out, the Giants seemed to roll over.

"He's as tough as he's ever been," said nose tackle Bill Neill. "Theismann creates so much motion that there is trouble with the lanes of the pass rush. It was very embarrassing for our defense to fall that far behind in the first half. We have pride. What the Redskins did to us today hurts."

The press kept after the matter of the 57-day strike and the repercussions it had. "There were a lot of missed tackles by both teams," said Perkins, citing the strike as the probable cause. The coach added, "We weren't overpowered. The Redskins are not that much better than us."

"Maybe some of our people were out of shape," said offensive guard J.T. Turner. "Some of our people were not ready to play today."

Shirk disagreed. "We got beat, so the strike affects us. The Redskins won, so the strike didn't affect them. That's the way people will look at it. It's not the truth."

The Giants play at Detroit in four days. Fullback Rob Carpenter still is holding out. He still is at home in Texas, still wanting a contract renegotiation. Quarterback Phil Simms, hurt in the preseason, has had his knee taken out of a cast, but he will not play the rest of the season.

So when the Giants play again Thanksgiving Day, they might just wonder for what are they supposed to give thanks. "I'm betting that against Detroit, you'll see the Giants of old, of last year," said Taylor, remembering the 1981 playoff team.

"A 4-5 record will get us in the playoffs," said Shirk. In the strike-devised schedule, eight teams from each conference will make the playoffs.

But the New York fans were not happy today. They booed Hall of Famer Sam Huff, the former Giant and former Redskin, in a halftime ceremony. When Huff mentioned the name of Giants owner Wellington Mara, the fans booed. They booed when Huff thanked his wife Mary.

They even booed bruised Scott Brunner, 14 of 28 for 185 yards and one touchdown and one interception. As blood dripped off Brunner's chin, the fans went for his jugular.

"It's hard not to hear them," said kicker Joe Danelo. "It would be like driving on the expressway in traffic and not noticing the cars all around you. You have to notice them."

"That's just New York fans," said Mistler, the wide receiver.

"The fans had a lot to boo today," reasoned Shirk.