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On This Date in Sports: October 30, 2005: Honoring the Duke

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Playing in tribute to owner Wellington Mara, who died four days earlier, the New York Giants blank the Washington Redskins 36-0 in the Meadowlands. The 89-year-old Mara had been a part of the Giants from the start, serving as a ball boy in 1925. Jay Feely kicked five field goals, as Tiki Barber had a team record 206 yards on the ground. Barber would top the record again later in the season, rushing for 220 yards on December 17th against the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Wellington Mara was born on August 16, 1916, in Rochester, New York. In 1925, his father Tim Mara became the owner of an NFL team named the New York Giants since they played their games at the Polo Grounds, home of the baseball team with the same name. Wellington, then nine, served as a ball boy for the new team. Due to these early days as a ball boy, the NFL football was nicknamed “Duke” in his honor. Upon graduating from Fordham in 1937, Wellington Mara became involved in the Giants' day-to-day operations, acting as the team’s General Manager. He would serve as the Giants GM until 1974 and was also one of the NFL’s most influential owners, suggesting all owners share revenue from television contracts. 

Led by coach Tom Coughlin, the Giants were off to a good start in 2005, as Eli Manning, in his second season, was settling into the role of starting quarterback. The Giants entered their Week 8 game against the Redskins with a record of 4-2. This included a thrilling fourth come back a week earlier against the Denver Broncos. Down 23-10 with ten minutes left, the Giants scored twice, with Manning hitting Amani Toomer in the end zone with five seconds left to win the game. The Redskins led by Joe Gibbs also were holding a record of 4-2.

Tiki Barber’s started the game with a bang, as he had a 57-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the game. The long-run would help set up the game’s first score as Jay Feely nailed a 39-yard field goal. After Washington went three and out on their first possession, the Giants again drove the ball deep into Redskins’ territory but came away empty when Eli Manning was intercepted by Ryan Clark. The Giants would get the ball back and had a second Feely field goal to take a 6-0 lead. 

As the Redskins’ offense continued to falter, the Giants continued to play on the Washington side of the field. Tiki Barber broke off another long run for 59 yards early in the second quarter, this time New York was able to find the end zone as Brandon Jacobs scored from the three. On their fifth possession, the Giants again made it into Washington territory but did not score as Jay Feely missed a 51-yard field goal. Feely would get two more field goals before the first half was overextending the Giants’ lead to 19-0 as they were aided by an interception by Antonio Pierce.

Down 19-0, the Redskins got the second half started on the wrong foot as Ladell Betts fumbled on a kickoff return. It took just three plays for the Giants to hit pay dirt, as Tiki Barber had an 18-yard run and Eli Manning connected with Jeremy Shockey on a ten-yard touchdown pass. Jay Feely added a fifth field goal in the third quarter, while Tiki Barber had a four-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 36-0.

With a 36-0 lead, the Giants called off the dogs in the fourth quarter, as Tiki Barber rested the remainder of the game after rushing for 206 yards on 24 carries through three quarters. Eli Manning struggled as he completed 12 of 31 passes for 146 yards. Meanwhile, Mark Brunell had one of his career's worst games, completing 11 of 28 passes for 65 yards with one interception before being benched for Patrick Ramsey. The Giants defense was inspired that day, forcing four turnovers as Washington managed 125 yards total offense.