Giants kick off Super Bowl defense with win

Playing without Pro Bowl linemen Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, the defense limited the new-look Washington Redskins to 11 first downs and 209 total yards and gave indications that these Giants are back for another run in a 16-7 victory that ushered in the NFL season on Thursday night.

Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress and the rest of the offense that started the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots also came up big in spoiling the debut of Redskins coach Jim Zorn and his West Coast offense.

Manning capped a game-opening 84-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run and recently signed John Carney kicked three field goals as the Giants scored on their first four possessions in posting a rare home win. They won their final 11 away from Giants Stadium in capturing their third Super Bowl, but they were 3-5 at home, losing the last four games.

Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and his defense made sure that streak came to an end, and in the process might have made Redskins owner Dan Synder think twice about trying harder to hire Spagnuolo. He was a serious candidate to replace Joe Gibbs until backing out to stay with the Giants.

Zorn eventually got the job.

Jason Campbell threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss with 13 seconds to play in the first half to account for the Redskins' points. The score was set up by a Giants' special teams lapse, a 50-yard kickoff return by Rock Cartwright.

Washington only got in New York territory three times in the game, the last time in the final seconds.

The only concern for the Giants was that defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka went down with an ankle injury on the final play. He was switched from linebacker to end when Umenyiora was lost for the season with a knee injury in the preseason.

Other than that the game belonged to the Giants, who have been overlooked when it comes to their chances of repeating. Their odds were 25-1 heading into the game.

The game started with fanfare as Strahan, who retired in June after a 15-year career that saw him earn seven Pro Bowl berths, showed off the Lombardi Trophy and got a standing ovation.

Manning (19-of-35 for 216 yards), Burress (10 catches for 133 yards) and halfback Brandon Jacobs (21 carries for 116 yards) had the fans on their feet time for the rest of the half.

Manning completed passes of 30, 19 and 11 yards to Burress on the opening drive.

Burress signed a two-year contract extension just hours before the game that will pay him an average of $7 million annually for the next five years. He more than earned his money on the 11-play opening drive, especially on the last catch.

He caught a third-down pass and was hit by Fred Smoot as the pass arrived, causing the ball to pop in the air. Burress reached out and hauled it in.

Manning's TD run on a naked rollout came one play after a pass-interference penalty gave New York a first-and-goal at the 1.

Carney, signed on Saturday after a knee injury sidelined Lawrence Tynes, kicked a 24-yard field goal to push the lead to 10-0 on the Giants' second possession. It capped a nine-play, 45-yard drive that featured a bruising 17-yard run by Jacobs on which he bowled over safety LaRon Landry.

The Giants' defense, which led the league with 53 sacks last season, contributed to the score by forcing Washington to a three-and-out series in Zorn's debut of the West Coast offense.

Justin Tuck, who replaced Strahan at left end, started the series, with a sack.

Carney's 25-yarder was set up by a 23-yard pass to Sinorice Moss, Santana's brother. The drive for the third field goal was highlighted by a 24-yard run by Jacobs that was one step away from a 70-yard touchdown run until Landry got him around the ankle.

Campbell finished 15-of-27 for 133 yards, but he was very ineffective on third down. Washington converted only three of 13 tries.

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