EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., OCT. 28 -- Everson Walls has something to tell Dallas Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson: "Thank you very much for putting me in this situation."

Walls's situation is playing cornerback for the New York Giants, who defeated the Washington Redskins, 21-10, today at Giants Stadium to improve to 7-0 and increase their NFC East lead to three games.

Walls -- in this situation because the Cowboys released him after last season -- contributed two interceptions, the second of which he returned for the first touchdown of his 10-year career. It came with 4:34 to play in the game and the Giants leading 14-10.

"This was the game to do it, this was the time to do it," said Walls, who stepped in front of wide receiver Art Monk, stabbed Stan Humphries' pass and ran 28 yards to the end zone. "This was the time to do it in my career when people really think I'm over the hill and I would like to happen to think otherwise."

Walls said Dallas thought so little of him, he wasn't just a Plan B free agent. "I was Plan O. They let me go outright," he said.

But New York Coach Bill Parcells is happy to have him. Parcells "is not into how you measure up on the computer," Walls said. "He's really into a guy's play-making ability and his intestinal fortitude. I feel I have all of those intangibles."

This season he has four interceptions to give him 48 for his career, during which he has made the Pro Bowl four times and led the NFL in interceptions a record three times. And he isn't the only supposedly over-the-hill free agent defensive back from which the Giants have gotten important contributions this year. Dave Duerson, a four-time Pro Bowler the Chicago Bears decided they could do without in the preseason, was added when safety Adrian White sustained a season-ending knee injury. Walls, Duerson and second-year safety Greg Jackson have helped form what linebacker Lawrence Taylor considers the best secondary the Giants have had in his 10 years with the team.

"Right now, I think we have a secondary that can contend with any secondary in the NFL," Taylor said. "That's something we haven't had in a long time."

Jackson also made his fourth interception of the season today, his third against the Redskins. It came in New York's end zone with 6:51 to play and Washington threatening to take to take the lead. On second down and goal from the 3, Humphries' pass to Ernest Byner bounced off the running back's shoulder pads. Jackson charged over from the middle and grabbed it.

"It was luck," Jackson said. "In goal line defense, we're in man-to-man coverage. I was supposed to cover the tight end, but he stayed in to block, and there was no one my side. So I came over to help. I thought he had the ball for a second, but I think he took his eyes off the ball too soon.

"I don't think it's anything about playing against the Redskins. I just think I've been playing consistently week in and week out."

The same can be said of Walls. "He's so smart," Jackson said. "He knows everything back there."

After all these years, Walls certainly knows Monk and the Redskins. On his second interception, he knew where Humphries was going with the ball and he knew where Monk was going with the route. The rest was a matter of catching the ball and getting to the end zone.

Although it came as a shock to many in the press box, Walls said he knew it was his first touchdown. "I'm not that focused on the ballgame that I didn't know it was my first," he said.

It was a welcome relief too.

"It had become sort of joke," said linebacker Steve DeOssie, who played with Walls in Dallas for five seasons. "He's such a talented defensive player, for him to have gone this long without a touchdown is comical. I've never seen anyone want to get into the end zone more than he did on that play."

Asked if he thought he might never score a touchdown, Walls replied: "Yeah, I was wondering. Carl Banks really never lets me forget it because he's scored before I have, and I think I have about 10 times the interceptions he has. But if I wouldn't have scored a touchdown, my career has still been a very good career."

Meanwhile, Taylor did a little more than his usual linebacking today. In the second quarter he lined up on the left flank of the field goal formation, went in motion to his right and then ran a fly pattern to the end zone, with holder Jeff Hostetler, the backup quarterback, trying to get him the ball.

"It was a great throw, a well-run pattern and the guy {Alvoid Mays} made a good defensive play even though . . . it was pass interference," Taylor said. "But I should have caught it."

Said Parcells: "They missed the call, without question. It was pass interference. The guy was face-guarding. The ball hit him in the helmet."

Taylor said the Giants tried to run the same play, known as "Ninja," two weeks ago at RFK Stadium on what appeared to be a botched field goal try. "But the crowd noise was so loud we couldn't run it. we thought it could work this week because we were at our home stadium.