The Washington Redskins yesterday closed the doors, pulled down the shades and picked through every play of Sunday's 24-20 loss to the New York Giants -- the latest in what has become a series of tough, emotional losses to their fiercest rivals.

What the Redskins discovered was pretty much what they had expected. If they ever wondered what would happen if one cornerback fell down and another lost a footrace, New York's Phil Simms showed them.

They also learned what can happen when a safety allows a tight end to run past him and what can happen when a safety (the same one -- Alvin Walton) and a linebacker get their signals crossed.

The Redskins (3-2) made only three defensive mistakes in losing to the Giants (5-0) for the eighth time in nine nonstrike games. On another Sunday, they might not have paid for any. On this one, Simms made them pay, turning the three breakdowns into gains of 80, 61 and 63 yards.

Only one of the passes went for a touchdown, but the others set up two more. The Giants finished with 332 total yards, with 204 coming on those three plays.

"Defensively, we gave up three big plays," Gibbs said, "and that's not like us. But we haven't been turning the ball over either, and we turned it over four times. Every time we had something good happen . . . they'd make a big play of over 50 yards, and that's hard to overcome."

Quarterback Stan Humphries threw three interceptions in his second NFL start. Gibbs warned two weeks ago that Humphries would have growing pains and that mistakes are part of growing up.

"What it came down to offensively was turning the ball over," Gibbs said. "Stan played very competitively. He competed like mad. He showed a lot of ability, which he does have, and made a lot of darn good plays. But he made several mistakes in there. That's his part of it and he understands that.

"It's got to be a learning thing. That's the way you learn up here. It has to come sometimes by tough experiences. He's got the Giants, Eagles and Giants in three weeks and that's three of the best defensive shots you're going to get by anybody."

Gibbs brought his players in yesterday to review films of the game and practice briefly. That's standard procedure after a loss, but even more important this week since the Redskins have to bounce back from an emotionally draining defeat and play Philadelphia at RFK Stadium Sunday.

Gibbs said he wanted his players to see their mistakes yesterday, get their regular day off today, then think about the Eagles on Wednesday.

Another factor: The Giants and Redskins play again in two weeks, and if the Redskins lose that one, they probably can kiss their chances of winning the NFC East goodbye.

"It's going to be a tough week," Gibbs said. "We've got to find a solution to the Giants in two weeks and not let it affect us this week. We've got to be ready for the Eagles, and I think when you look at the films and see Reggie White and Randall Cunningham, you have to get excited. What happened against the Giants . . . you have to bounce back and, as much as anything, get mad."

In replaying their loss, Gibbs and his staff looked at exactly what went wrong. Yet even in scolding their players for mistakes, they tipped their hats to Simms.

Specifically:Cornerbacks Brian Davis and Martin Mayhew made mistakes that resulted in Stephen Baker's 80-yard, second-quarter touchdown catch. Davis was brushed off slightly by Alvoid Mays on Baker's crossing pattern and never caught up.

But Baker ran across the field to where Mayhew would have been had he not fallen. "That was a good football play," Redskins secondary coach Emmitt Thomas said. "Baker and Simms did a good job executing that play."Walton allowed tight end Mark Bavaro to run past him and catch a 61-yard pass. "He just looked at the quarterback too long," Thomas said. "By the time he looked at Bavaro, it was too late."

Bavaro's catch set up Ottis Anderson's five-yard touchdown run to give the Giants a 14-6 lead with 9:10 remaining in the third quarter.Walton and linebacker Andre Collins got mixed up, allowing running back Maurice Carthon to escape for a 63-yard gain. That came after the Redskins drove 74 yards, getting the final 31 on an Earnest Byner-to-Ricky Sanders halfback option pass.

The Redskins closed to 14-13, then were burned again.

Thomas said he wasn't sure what the mix-up was and wanted to talk to Walton before passing judgment. He said Walton could have given Collins the defensive signals too late or could have given the wrong one.

Walton was given permission by Gibbs to skip yesterday's work because he's attempting to obtain custody of his son, who lives in California.

No matter what Walton and Collins did, the pass to Carthon didn't break open completely until safety Brad Edwards missed a tackle at the 40.

"Simms was able to pick things out so quickly and that's why he's one of the top quarterbacks in the league," Thomas said. "I don't think Bavaro was his primary receiver, but he saw what happened and got it out there quickly. That's what {Joe} Montana does. He's like Montana in that he makes you pay for your mistakes."

Thomas refused to put all the blame on Walton, saying, "He's started five years here and he's a good football player. . . . We played hard and aggressively and just got caught out of pocket three times. That's the line of a defensive back. When it happens, you've got to shoulder the blame and be ready to tee it up the next week. Alvin feels badly enough. He'll bounce back."

Humphries hoped to do the same thing. One of the things the Redskins have liked about him is that he's a bit cocky and has a strong arm that he'll sometimes use to challenge defensive backs. That may work against the gambling Eagles, but it played into the hands of the Giants.

"I wish I had the three passes back," Humphries said. "The last one at the end of the game {when safety Greg Jackson stepped in front of Sanders with 1:34 remaining}, it was a tough throw. I thought I had him open and the guy just came underneath Ricky.

"Against their style of defense, you've got to plant it in your mind that you can't take chances. You could see on the first drive of the whole game that that's the way they want you to play. You need 18 plays to get down to the 25 and they don't think you can go that far without some kind of mistake."

Humphries also made some good plays. When the Redskins opened the game with an 18-play, 66-yard drive for a field goal, they converted four third-down plays in a row. On third and five from the 27, Humphries hit Art Monk for five. On third and one from the 41, Gerald Riggs picked up eight. On third and five from the New York 46, Humphries hit Kelvin Bryant for seven.

He ducked Lawrence Taylor's blitzes most of the afternoon and seemingly never came close to losing his composure. Unfortunately, his on-the-job training is coming at the throttle of a team that has aspirations of playing in Super Bowl XXV.

"You learn a lot just being in that kind of intensity," Humphries said. "You know what to expect next time. It was a great game. I don't think I've ever heard that stadium any louder. I really thought after we got it to 21-20 we were going to win it. If we play the way we played this weekend, we're going to be in every ballgame and have a chance to win. We've just got to cut down on the mistakes."