Monday, September 26, 2016

Manning and Giants Stink It Up Against Skins


There is a reason why the Giants were fortunate to be 2-0 coming into their game against the Washington Redskins. In spite of producing two wins, the team made way too many mistakes in both contests, but only got away with it thanks to mistakes by both the Cowboys and Saints.

On Sunday there was no such luck for the Giants. All the mistakes Big Blue made on Sunday came back to cost them a key divisional game against a Redskins team that was ready for a mutiny of their quarterback, Kirk Cousins and likely their head coach, Jay Gruden.

The Giants spent boatloads of cash to improve their defense, and, on Sunday it looked like they all forgot how to tackle. The Giants yielded 403 yards of offense; they allowed Cousins to tear them apart for 296 yards and two scores, and allowed Washington to run roughshod at them with reckless abandon.

While Washington had to settle for five field goals in the game, it's little consultation considering the Skins scored on seven of their 11 possessions, and punted the ball only twice the entire day.  In fact, the Redskins scored on each of their first four possessions, including a quick 44-yard strike from Cousins to Desean Jackson that cut the Giants lead down to 21-16. Had the Redskins not screwed up the final drive of the first half when they refused to go for a field goal to cut the deficit to two points, Washington could have scored on every possession of the first half.

Even well before the Cousins-to-Jackson touchdown, the true turning point of this game came when the Giants were turned aside with 12:59 to go in the second quarter after a Eli Manning fumble and an offensive holding penalty forced the Giants into a three-and-out. The score was 14-6, Giants. Jamison Crowder brought back the punt 50-yards to the Giants 36, and Washington would settle for a field goal. Nothing too crazy, but the there was a seismic shift in momentum after that play, and the Giants weren't ready for it.

That one moment gave the Redskins the confidence they needed, and when Cousins hit Jackson for the touchdown with 3:40 to go before the half it was an all-out Redskins rally.

The Redskins took that momentum into the third quarter and rode the wave. On Washington's second series, Cousins hit Crowder on a small dump off pass that quickly turned into a 55-yard sprint to the end zone as Crowder shot past every Giants defender. Just like that Washington was up 23-21.

From that point on, New York couldn't help itself from committing one horrific mistake after another. First Manning fumbled the football on first and goal at the Redskins 10 with 7:30 to go in the third quarter. Fortunately, the Giants recovered. Two plays later it appeared that Manning threw an interception in the back of the end zone, but the officials ruled the catch incomplete, allowing Big Blue to settle for three.

After Washington marched down the field on a 15-play 68-yard drive for another Dustin Hopkins field goal, the Giants once again couldn't avoid the mistakes. Manning had the Giants rolling deep into Washington territory, but threw a killer interception to Quentin Dunbar, who caught the ball while falling backwards into the end zone. Will Tye was the intended receiver on the play, but the ball was never near him.

While the Giants would miraculously survive the Manning gaff, and eventually take the lead 27-26, there was a sense that this time around luck wouldn't strike for the third time for Big Blue. The Redskins made sure of it. With 7:53 to go in the game, the Redskins drove the football right down the Giants' throat. With the help of a huge pass interference penalty on Olivier Vernon, the Redskins used a heavy dose of Matt Jones to plow through the Giants D.

On third and one at the Washington 45, Jones gashed the Giants for 10-yards and a first down. Two plays later, Jones gashed the Giants again, this time for a 12-yard run to the New York 24-yard line. Washington settled for the field goal to take another slim lead, this time at 29-27.

On a day filled with so many mistakes by the Giants, and on an afternoon where their defense got beaten up by a bad Redskins team, the Giants had no answer. Manning threw a game clinching interception, right into the waiting arms of Su'a Cravens to end the ball game.

The Giants (2-1) now stare at a difficult stretch coming up. They will play the Vikings (3-0), Packers (2-1) and Ravens (3-0) over their next three games. The next two games will all be primetime match-ups. The Giants have to sure things up on the defensive side of the ball, and clean up the mistakes.

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