EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Rex Grossman’s first pass on Sunday came on the very first snap of the game — a bit of trickery, a flea-flicker on which Grossman handed the ball to running back Roy Helu, waited for Helu to pitch it back to him, then chucked it downfield in the general direction of Santana Moss. Its fate, when it left Grossman’s hand, hadn’t been determined, but who could have been surprised when it settled nicely into the waiting arms of New York Giants safety Corey Webster?
Before the first quarter was over, Grossman had again looked deep, again heaved up a ball which “was a little greedy on my part,” he said later, and again was intercepted. The difference in Grossman when he next entered the huddle?
“He was smiling,” fullback Darrel Young said. “It was like: ‘All right, here we go.’ ”
Such is life as Grossman, the Washington Redskins’ starting quarterback who can’t walk around a corner without running smack into a question about his latest interception. In Sunday’s 23-10 victory over the Giants, Grossman’s requisite picks came before the first quarter was out. His requisite response, after his 17th and 18th interceptions of the season, remained unwavering.
“Whatever,” he said.
Has a pick ever bothered this guy?
“I doubt it, because he threw a lot this year, and he still comes out and slings the ball,” Moss said. “He’s a gunslinger, man. And that’s what you want to catch balls from.”
Grossman’s stat line in his second win against the Giants this year — 15 of 24 for 185 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions — isn’t particularly sexy. But it can actually be broken down between the first three series and the remaining nine. Early on, he was 4 of 7 for 34 yards and the two interceptions. After that: 11 of 17 for 151 yards, no picks and a touchdown.
“As a quarterback or any player, all you want is an opportunity to make plays and use your skills to play well as a quarterback,” Grossman said. “The one thing I love about Coach [Mike] Shanahan and Kyle [Shanahan, the offensive coordinator]: They stick with the game plan. . . . They trust you. They just call the play and just go.”
Two plays the Shanahans came up with defined this day for Grossman. The first came early in the second quarter, after Grossman had already kept a drive alive with a fourth-and-one completion to Jabar Gaffney. Facing third and eight from the Giants 20-yard line, Grossman had three receivers to his left. Gaffney ran a route in the flat, drawing a cornerback. Moss ran toward the pylon.
“They honored the flat route,” Grossman said. “That was my signal to let it go.”
Grossman floated his lone touchdown pass of the day right into Moss’s hands, a play that put the Redskins up 10-0.
“It was the perfect play,” Moss said, “at the perfect time.”
On the Redskins’ next possession, they faced third and 14 from the New York 22. Fail to convert, and the Giants would remain within two scores. Grossman took a three-step drop and found Gaffney, who stopped with both feet, twirled around, and turned a 12-yard pass into a 16-yard gain — and a first down. On the next play, Young scored on a six-yard run, and the Redskins went up, 17-0.
“Rex stepped up in the pocket and made some good plays,” Mike Shanahan said.
So life with Grossman goes on. The interceptions will come, the bounce back — be it the next play or the next week — will follow. The attitude will never change.
“When things go bad early, you have 55 minutes to fix that problem,” Grossman said, and he rambled a bit before he sighed and added, “I’m not sure why I’m taking so long talking about those interceptions.”