Photos and VideosMore Photos and Videos
ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 26: Donavan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins passes against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 26, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Redskins 30-16. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
There's a major difference this time.
McNabb no longer wears the green of the Philadelphia Eagles. The 12-year veteran is in the burgundy and gold of the Redskins (5-6), and they will have a major say in whether the Giants (7-4) get back to the postseason.
New York is a half-game behind first-place Philadelphia (8-4) in the NFC East following the Eagles' 34-24 victory over the Houston Texans on Thursday night.
The Giants and Redskins will renew their rivalry Sunday at the New Meadowlands Stadium, and again in Washington in the final week of the regular season.
New York is coming into the game off an emotional high. It rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to beat Jacksonville 24-20, snapping a two-game losing streak.
"It's definitely crunch time," Giants linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "We control our own fate. We're in the driver's seat. We can't change some past games that we squandered nor can we control what other teams do. We just have to handle our business."
McNabb and the Redskins need to cut out the mistakes and become more consistent if they want to make the playoffs, but it's a long shot.
Washington has talent. They have beaten Philadelphia, Green Bay, Chicago and Tennessee. They also have lost to Detroit, Minnesota and St. Louis. New York lost to Philadelphia and Tennessee this season.
"I think for us, we don't need to focus on playoffs," McNabb said. "We need to take one game at a time, and make sure we're playing our best. We do have to win every game, and I think that's for every team no matter what your record is. You want to go into every game like you need to win, and this is a must-win situation for us, and it's going to be like that for the rest of the season."
With the Eagles, McNabb hurt the Giants. He's 11-4 against them since 2001, winning four straight, including playoffs. For his career, he has thrown 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions against New York.
"It's just a comfort level in the team that you're with and the things that you're able to do," McNabb said. "Guys around me made plays, and when you're playing against a team twice a year, you have a feel with them, like what they're going to do, their defense's fronts and blitzes, and the answers to some of their questions."
McNabb admits he doesn't have the same personnel in Washington and he is still fitting into a new offense under coach Mike Shanahan.
``But when you play against a team for 11 years, you build a good relationship with them as far as what they're doing and the defensive coordinators and things of that nature,'' he said. ``It's going to be a battle, and it's going to be a lot of fun.''
Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora said McNabb is doing the same things he did with the Eagles. He is still running bootlegs and he can throw 50 yards downfield with a flick of his wrist.
Even seeing McNabb in a Redskins' uniform is not a shock.
"At first when I saw him it was weird, but he looks natural in that uniform because I have been watching him for a while," said Umenyiora, who had six sacks in a game against McNabb and the Eagles in 2007.
Fellow defensive end Justin Tuck said the Giants will not make this a battle against McNabb.
``We are going to be prepared for everything, McNabb, Shanahan,'' Tuck said. ``They can do a good job of giving you a tremendous loop. They see how you set things early in a game and they completely change it. We're not going to get bogged down in what other teams have done against them.''
The Redskins have struggled against the Giants in recent years, losing four straight and seven of eight overall.
An area of concern for the Giants is turnovers. While they didn't lose the ball in the win against Jacksonville, the Giants are minus six for the season. Washington is a plus 5 despite having the lowest ranked defense in the league.
"They do a good job of getting to the quarterback. They cause turnovers, they do a good job mixing up their coverages," quarterback Eli Manning said.
What the Giants can't afford is another slow start like last week, when it took halftime speeches by Tuck and Umenyiora to get the team going.
For them, the playoffs are within reach a year after missing the postseason.
"We've been spoiled going to the playoffs, I don't know how many years in a row, and last year we took it for granted," Umenyiora said. "We had to sit at home and watch everyone else play. We know we're a good football team and this year we have the veterans and coaching staff to make it not a repeat of last year."