EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Among the two or three least likely statements anyone could have imagined less than a month ago was this from the coach of the New York Giants: "Our defense can't make any plays at all."

"We don't stop the run," Bill Parcells continued Sunday. "We don't pressure the quarterback and we don't defend {passes} too well. It's a pretty helpless feeling."

Last season, Parcells was getting drenched with Gatorade on the sideline in what passed for high humor in the NFL and in glory for winning the Super Bowl. His dousing this year is from wave after wave of misfortune.

Parcells is in the middle of some astonishing symmetry. His real Giants are 0-2; his scab Giants are 0-2. His level of disbelief surely shot off the charts quite a while ago.

"We did do well running kickoffs back," he said after losing to the Scabskins, 38-12. "Of course, we had ample opportunities."

Considering the anticipation that had been building for months, this collision of last season's two best NFC teams was more farce than fierce. The Redskins have made the best of strike confusion; the Giants have not.

For the second straight week, the Redskins were involved in matters that seemed to run counter to the NFL as a whole.

Last week, they surprised one of the largest crowds in the league; this week, they silenced one of the smallest. Last week, they were involved in a very competitive game; this week, they were in rout mode halfway through the second quarter.

The scab Giants drew 7,000 fewer fans Sunday than the 16,471 that endured a 20-point loss to the 49ers last week. The huddled masses in section 315, for instance, were Carl Steinmetz and Donna Leary.

"We got the tickets from a friend," Steinmetz said.

Did he pay for them?

"No. You kiddin'?"

Much of the entertainment was watching guards coax Giants fans into removing signs with more sting than Giants players. One read:

"For Sale: NY-NJ Scab Team. Two weeks old -- used condition (owners optional). Call 1-800-NFL Players."

One of the fellows who helped letter it, Rich Mortden, was not opposed to replacement players taking the jobs of such as Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson and Phil Simms. He was upset that the spare parts were so dreadful.

"I'm not against those guys down there," he said as the Redskins were scoring their first touchdown. "I wish I was one of 'em."

For the second week, poor Parcells was resigned to defeat by halftime. Or perhaps, being realistic, he knew gloom would be at hand by then long before the game began.

"We're just trying to do the best we can with what we've got," he said. When asked if the Giants would scratch for other players this week, he gave grammar a good licking by saying:

"There's just not hardly anything available."

He's right.

"We might get some cuts from other teams with regulars coming back," he said, leaving unsaid the added futility of those moves.

Surprisingly, Parcells insists these scab games should count.

"That's what the league said," he said. "We're all under the same rules; I think they should count."

On the other sideline, the Redskins could not be more pleased with the strike. A tough game, against the Patriots, got canceled; they caught the Giants at exactly the proper time; if the strike ends this week, they will go against the Cowboys in Dallas with the regular players necessary to beat them.

"We can't go down there with these guys," one official whispered of the apparent strike juggernaut the Cowboys have assembled.

Meanwhile, Parcells folds his hands near the end of games and accepts with outward calm the stunning contrast in seasons.

In 16 regular season and two playoff games, the Giants held opponents to one touchdown or none seven times.

"One week 40 {actually 41 points}, the next 38; I'm not used to that," he said. "It's pretty tough to take."

Is he angry?

"Frustrating would be a better word. It doesn't do any good to get mad, although I'm having to suppress that feeling, in all honesty. I don't like gettin' our butts kicked all over."

Parcells tactfully avoided evaluating the Scabskins' quarterback, Ed Rubbert, who again passed well. Does Rubbert belong with the real players when they return?

"I don't know," Parcells said. "Maybe."

Parcells is making do with a quarterback, Mike Busch, who was sacking groceries when the Giants called. Busch also was working on his degree and helping coach at his alma mater, South Dakota State.

Busch was responsible for the lettering above his locker and the one next door: "Scab QB {for last week's starter, Jim Crocicchia} and Scab QB II."

Guard Anthony Howard failed to see anything funny about Busch's work and ripped it down after the game.

"You're what you think you are," Howard said.

So Parcells is faced with this: a Busch quarterback in a bush league.

"I got no evidence this thing's going anywhere," Parcells said, meaning the strike.

Would he welcome Giants veterans?

"I don't have any back. I have no choice. If they want to come in, they come in; if they want to stay out, they stay out."