Despite Robert Griffin III’s fourth-quarter heroics and a stellar performance by Alfred Morris, early injuries and a cluster of ugly turnovers cost the Washington Redskins (3-4) their opportunity to notch a win against the New York Giants (5-2) Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
Sunday’s match-up marked the first NFC East Division game for the Burgundy and Gold this year – and boy, was it a wild one.
Griffin held his own against the defending Super Bowl Champions, completing 20 of 28 passes for 258 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He added another 89 yards over nine carries but the Redskins failed to capitalize on his top-notch performance in the second half.
From the very first play, it was clear that Sunday’s match-up would be one marred by injuries. On kickoff coverage, Redskins safety DeJon Gomes suffered a blow to the chest on a hit by Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich. Gomes was evaluated but later returned to the game.
Unfortunately for the Redskins, Gomes’s injury was only the beginning.
After a false start penalty on Giants offensive tackle Sean Locklear forced New York to punt, strong runs by Alfred Morris and a catch-and-carry by Logan Paulsen helped put Washington in the red zone. On second and 2 at the Giants’ second-yard line, tight end Fred Davis went down with an injury to his left Achilles tendon – an injury that could keep him sidelined for the remainder of the season. Entering into Sunday’s match-up against the Giants, Davis represented the Redskins’ number one receiver with 23 catches for 312 yards.
Afterwards, Griffin failed to complete a pass on third and 2, and the Redskins settled for the field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
The Giants answered on their next drive. After Eli Manning found Martellus Bennett for a 31-yard pass, tosses to Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw helped set up a quick pass to Andre Brown to put the Giants up 7-3. On the play, Reed Doughty found himself at the bottom of the touchdown pile and left the field with an apparent injury to his left leg.
But, as was evidenced throughout Sunday’s rollercoaster performance – what the Redskins’ defense giveth, Griffin and company often taketh away.
After Griffin lobbed one to Leonard Hankerson for 23 yards, Morris, Darrel Young, and Griffin himself scrambled to bring the Redskins to the Giants’ 26-yard line. On a picture-perfect screen pass made possible by grade-A defense from Paulsen, Griffin tossed to Santana Moss for a 26-yard touchdown and the Redskins regained the lead, 10-7.
It would be a game of field goals for the remainder of the second quarter, however, as the Giants’ Lawrence Tynes centered a 27-yarder to tie it 10-10. Just over two minutes later, Kai Forbath responded with a 47-yarder to give the Redskins a 13-10 lead, but with only seconds remaining in the first half, Tynes responded again with a 39-yarder to tie it once more, 13-13.
Heading into the second half, the Redskins looked for a way to slow the Giants’ running game and better their performance on third downs.
The Redskins successfully shut down the Giants defense at the start of the third quarter and, at first and 10 from the Giants’ 28-yard line, Washington looked ready to strike first in the second half. However, as Morris ran the ball another 15 yards, offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus managed a costly leg whip penalty. On the next play, from the Giants’ 41-yard line, Morris fumbled the ball and the Giants’ Michael Boley scooped it up to regain possession.
The Giants brought the ball to the Redskins’ 26-yard line but, Manning threw an uncharacteristically off-balance pass intended for Victor Cruz which was intercepted by Josh Wilson.
In almost the same amount of time in which the Redskins managed a rally opportunity, they practically handed the ball back to the Giants as Griffing poorly timed a pass to a wide-open Paulsen and, instead, threw straight to the Giants’ Brown. This time, the Giants scored on the drive off a short toss to Bradshaw to make it 20-13 Giants.
Then – to put it simply – things got crazy.
Jason Pierre-Paul raced through the Redskins’ offensive line for a huge sack on Griffin which cost the Redskins 12 yards. Mike Shanahan then made the gutsy call to go for it on fourth and 2 from midfield and Griffin passed to Hankerson for nine yards. Another sack – this time by Osi Umenyiora – forced the Redskins to go for it again, on fourth and 1 from the Giants’ 30-yard line, and Griffin carried the ball himself just enough for a first down. However, the Redskins’ seemingly heroic comeback was short-lived as Griffin fumbled the ball, which the Giants picked up at their own 29-yard line.
But, it didn’t end there. Yet again, Eli Manning nearly gift-wrapped an opportunity for the Redskins who were in dire need of a rally with just over seven minutes left to play.
On the very first play following Griffin’s fumble, Manning’s pass intended for Nicks found its way right into the arms of the Redskins’ Rob Jackson. However, Alfred Morris and Niles Paul proved no match for the Giants’ defense on the drive and the Redskins wisely opted for the field goal on fourth and 5 to trim the Giants’ lead to 20-16.
After the Redskins forced the Giants to punt on their next drive,Griffinfound Santana Moss for a 30-yard touchdown pass to stun the Giants and regain the lead, 23-20.
Eli Manning, however, won the battle of the quarterbacks Sunday afternoon by rocketing a 77-yard touchdown pass to Cruz with just over 90 seconds left in the game, to put New York on top 27-23.
At first and 10 from the Redskins’ 32 with the game on the line, Moss managed to fumble the ball, and the Giants’ rookie Jayron Hosley recovered it to cap off a 27-23 win for the G-men.