The Washington Redskins took a 14-point lead over division rival New York Giants, but allowed that lead to evaporate while frittering away opportunities all evening, eventually falling to the Giants 24-17 as Pierre Garcon was stripped after making a catch on fourth down with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
The Redskins fall to 3-9 on the season and were officially eliminated from the playoffs. The Giants, at 5-7, remain mathematically eligible for now.
Robert Griffin III completed his first 12 passes on the Skins first two drives of the game as they built a 14-0 lead, and finished 24 of 32 for 207 yards and a touchdown. But after those first two drives, Griffin was harassed all game and Justin Tuck abused right tackle Tyler Polumbus for four sacks on the day.
The Skins took the opening drive right down the field, going 71 yards in 14 plays, culminating with Alfred Morris’ 1-yard touchdown plunge. It was a systematic attack, with the longest play a 16-yard strike to Pierre Garcon for 16 yards.
New Yorkwent on a pair of three-and-outs and Washington took over on their own 41 late in the first quarter. Another picture-perfect drive went 54 yards in eight plays, as Griffin found Logan Paulsen wide open in the seam for a 19-yard touchdown. Griffin had completed 12 straight passes on the Skins first two possessions.
The Giants bowed their backs on their next drive. After a couple of Eli Manning (22 of 28, 235 yards, 1 TD) completions, Peyton Hillis gashed the Skins defense for runs of eight and 27-yards on consecutive carries, bowling over linebacker London Fletcher and safety Brandon Meriweather on the second carry. Andre Brown then carried for seven yards to set up his 23-yard touchdown run.
The Skins then couldn’t pick up a first down on two possessions, and the Giants took over on their own 19 after a 53-yard Sav Rocca punt. Manning led the G-Men on a 9-play, 81-yard drive, going 6-for-6 on the drive, including a 22-yard scoring pass to tight end Brandon Myers, his third catch of the game at that point.
The first half ended with the Skins bypassing a 57-yard field goal attempt, but a 3-man Giants rush disrupted Griffin and he ran around left end for 20 yards instead of heaving one into the end zone.
Neither team could do much with their first drives of the second half. On the Giants second possession, Manning tried to force a ball to his tight end, which was tipped right to Meriweather, who returned it to the Giants 19-yard line. But the Skins stalled, and settled for a 33-yard Kai Forbath field goal, to put the Skins up 17-14.
On the next series, Washington was forced to punt from their own 38. Long-snapper Kyle Nelson, who replaced Nick Sundberg when he went on the I.R. with a knee injury, flubbed the snap, forcing Rocca to quick-kick. The punt traveled just 18 yards, and a holding call on Nelson exacerbated the matter, giving the Giants the ball at the Skins 46.
It took the Giants just four plays to put the ball in the end zone, as Andre Brown’s 1-yard plunge gave the Giants a 21-17 lead. The play was reviewed, as it appeared Brown’s knee might have touched down before the ball crossed the line, but replays proved inconclusive.
Two more fruitless Redskins possessions later, the Giants went 40 yards on eight plays to set up Josh Brown’s 39-yard field goal to make it a 7-point game with 2:32 remaining.
The Skins last drive was filled with dropped passes, and on their final play, a reception that would have kept the drive alive on fourth down, Pierre Garcon was stripped by defensive back Will Hill to ice the game for the Giants. That play came immediately after the referees screwed up the downs, originally giving the Redskins a first down, then revoking it and forcing them into fourth down.
Regardless, the Skins would have had a first down if Garcon held onto the ball.