ASHBURN -- The fact that Washington swept the Giants was surprising enough. The team that won both games only beat three other teams, while the other team won the Super Bowl.

Then there's this: When the Redskins won at New York last season, they at times lined up with Richard Quinn at tight end next to Willie Smith at left tackle next to Maurice Hurt at left guard. The Redskins cut the first two players; the third is now a reserve.

Yet the Redskins still ran for 123 yards, albeit on 40 carries, in the 23-10 win. In the 2011 season opener, the Redskins' offense scored three touchdowns and threw for 305 yards.

- John Keim

Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon is a long shot to play against the New York Giants on Sunday, but he did take a pain-killing shot Wednesday that doctors hope will lessen the pain in his right foot. Garcon did not practice Thursday -- he was not on the field, either, as the Redskins kept him inside to get treatment -- and is not expected to practice Friday, coach Mike Shanahan said. Garcon has missed three of the Redskins' first six games because of his right foot -- he injured the second toe on that foot in the season-opening win at New Orleans. Shanahan said Garcon has taken a pain-killing shot earlier this season but said the latest one was more localized.
» Safety Brandon Meriweather (knee) is out. Cornerback David Jones (Achilles) did not practice. Fullback Darrel Young (hamstring), punter Sav Rocca (right knee), cornerback Cedric Griffin (hamstring), cornerback DeAngelo Hall (knee) and defensive end Doug Worthington (calf) were limited. Former Eagles punter Chas Henry will work out for the Redskins on Friday in case Rocca can't play Sunday.

Washington's offense has been consistent and can hurt New York. But the defense hasn't been consistent, so Sunday the trick will be slowing the Giants' offense again.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning has thrown 11 touchdown passes -- six to receiver Victor Cruz. Three Giants average 16.5 yards per catch. They're second in the league with 32 plays of 20 yards or more (Washington's defense has allowed 29 such plays, third most in the NFL).

So this is about the defense and lessons learned from last season against this passing attack:

Make Manning pause » In the second meeting last season, the Giants' first drive showed what the Redskins want to do. The Redskins played both safeties within six yards of the line of scrimmage. They then dropped to cover deep halves. Perhaps because of this look, Manning held the ball for 4.9 seconds before throwing an incomplete pass. On the next play, the Redskins showed a cover-6 look. Manning looked downfield, stepped up and threw the ball away.

"We're trying to make his first read not a quick one," Redskins safety Reed Doughty said.

Said cornerback DeAngelo Hall: "We feel we match up well against them. We think we can do things to confuse Eli."

Pressure Manning » The Redskins sacked Manning seven times in the two games combined. The problem right now is that New York hasn't allowed a sack in the last 13 quarters and has allowed only one in the past five games. The Giants' line deserves credit -- even ex-Redskins player Sean Locklear, now starting at right tackle -- but Manning is making quicker decisions, too. That has made a tremendous difference.

But it's not about sacks. Last season, the Redskins' defensive tackles did a good job collapsing the pocket. For example, Hall intercepted a Manning pass on a deep out. Manning wasn't fooled by the coverage -- a two-deep look with both cornerbacks in press man. But his pass was a couple feet short of being perfect. Part of the reason: Defensive end Adam Carriker had a hand near Manning's face.

"He's smart in the pocket. He slides in the pocket," Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "He stays alive. We have to be disciplined in rushing and be relentless to disrupt the passing game."

Doughty said Manning likes to step up in the pocket and hit receivers running double moves.

"When we've been successful, it's because we're not allowing big step-up lanes, getting some sacks, showing different looks," Doughty said. "You can't just sit in a look all day and let him throw the ball."