After his fourth sack of the night, Justin Tuck took a moment to appreciate his surroundings before handing the ball back to the official.

There was Robert Griffin III, once a thorn in Tuck’s side, once a dynamic quarterback that made a living fooling defensive ends like him, crumbled on the grass. His ability to escape was sapped, forcing him to stare down a pass rush that was finally kicking itself into gear on almost every play.

Tuck, who came into the night with just 2½ sacks, more than doubled his season total in just a few dozen snaps. As he lingered over his trophy, was there any doubt that he wondered: Where was this feeling all season?

"It's like Coach (Coughlin) tells us, 'Keep pounding the rock,'" Tuck said. "We rushed hard tonight and it came together for us. Thanks to the secondary, RG3 had to hold the ball a little longer than he wanted to because of the looks they were giving him, and we capitalized."

In a 24-17 win over the Redskins in front of a dotted crowd here at FedEx Field, the Giants pass rush returned to form and, in a rare sight this year, the offense opened up.

And the Giants, while a playoff long shot, are still breathing.

"We knew after the loss last week (to the Cowboys) that we'd have to win all five games we had left," quarterback Eli Manning said. "And this is the first one. You can't win five in a row unless you win the first one."

Maybe it was the fact that the Washington Redskins (3-9) dwell in the basement of one of football’s worst divisions. Maybe it was because the Giants (5-7) had some pent-up anger from that narrow loss to the Cowboys that clipped their season.