Even now, almost two months after the fact, the memory lingers for the New York Giants.
They remember the Washington Redskins lighting up the scoreboard in a 50-21 rout. They remember Stephen Davis scoring three first-quarter touchdowns and Shawn Barber returning an intercepted screen pass 70 yards for a score just before halftime. They remember several Redskins trash-talking late in the Sept. 19 game. And, most of all, they remember the humiliation of what many said was the worst and most embarrassing loss of their lives.
Now as the team comes into town to face the Redskins on Sunday, the memories are flooding back, and many players said there will be no problem getting motivated for the rematch of the 5-4 teams.
"That 50 points is still with me," all-pro defensive end Michael Strahan said. "I haven't forgotten it yet. This week is going to be special. . . . If you're not ready to play Washington this week, the way we got beat here in our place the last time, then get off the team. Just get off the team. . . .
"If you've got any kind of willpower, you won't let it happen again."
What happened that day was among the most lopsided outcomes in the teams' history. Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson was on from the opening snap, and the Giants trailed 33-14 at halftime in a game that was never close.
Since that debacle, the Giants' defense has played well, especially since the return of veteran cornerback Jason Sehorn from a knee injury that sidelined him for the 1998 season. The Redskins relentlessly attacked his replacement, Jeremy Lincoln, forcing him into several critical pass interference calls and burning him short and deep. Sehorn made his first start the following week.
Many Giants were talking about an opportunity for redemption, not to mention a chance to take either sole possession of the NFC East lead or a share of it if they and the Dallas Cowboys win. All three teams are tied for the lead in what appears to be the NFL's weakest division.
"I haven't forgotten about it [the first Redskins game], and it's already the 10th game of the season," defensive tackle Keith Hamilton said. "I've never had a team go through us like that. I always said, 'Take it one game at a time and forget about what happened in the past,' but that game left a bad taste in my mouth. I don't need any motivational speeches. All I have to do is think back to what they did to us. If that doesn't do it, nothing will."
Strahan also recalled the Redskins rubbing it in just a tad too much for his taste.
"There was a lot of talk afterward, a lot of little things, the things you don't ever forget what's said," he said, without elaborating. "If one person says it, they represent the whole team. Hopefully, we'll go out and say the words this time."
Asked if he and his teammates are planning to show up angry, Strahan smiled and said: "I'm pretty sure I will. . . . It was very painful to watch that film. They changed quarterbacks in the offseason, and that's about it. I don't know if we were coasting or what, but they definitely didn't coast. We can do better than that."