Going into Monday night’s match up, there were many story lines that could have potentially played out. Would the New York Giants continue to be the surprising juggernaut team we saw dismantle the Green Bay Packers? Would the Washington Redskins continue their post bye week win streak? With a chance to put a stranglehold on the NFC East, the New York Giants (7-5) fell victim to numerous penalties as the Washington Redskins (6-6), led by their two headed rookie monster of Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, came out on top 17-16. From the beginning of the game, you knew the Redskins were all in. Not afraid of looking for the big play, RGIII went deep on the first play of the game to Pierre Garcon. While the pass fell incomplete, it showed that the Redskins weren’t going to be conservative at all. Knowing the importance of this game, Mike Shanahan challenged a spot ruling on the opening drive and ended up winning the challenge. Although the Redskins ended up punting the ball a few plays later, it once again showed the willingness of the Redskins to open up and go all in early on in the game.
The first half included some big pass plays by the Redskins, setup by some tough running by Alfred Morris, who surpassed the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the season as well as setting the Redskins rookie rushing record previously held by Reggie Brooks. After two hard runs by Morris on the ‘Skins second drive, RGIII kept the ball on a triple option and while trying to slide down, fumbled the ball, only to have Josh Morgan recover and run it in for a touchdown. Thanks to Morgan’s recovery and touchdown, the Redskins took a 7-3 lead, igniting the home town crowd.
Not to be outdone by Morris, Giants running back, Ahmad Bradshaw carried the ball 15 times in the first half for an impressive 77 yards and carried the offensive load for the Giants in the first half. Although he missed a few potential big passes, Eli Manning was solid in the first half and hit Martellus Bennett for a touchdown in the second quarter. After Kai Forbath kicked a field to tie the game at 10-10, Manning helped the Giants take a 3 point lead into the locker room with an efficient 34 second drive that stretched 54 yards and setup Lawrence Tynes for a 40 yard field goal with 5 seconds left.
The second half packed just as much if not more drama and excitement than the first half. On a 3rd and 1 play early in the 3rd quarter, RGIII kept the ball on a read option and darted up the left side of the field for a huge 46 yard run. The momentum would be short lived as Alfred Morris coughed up the ball on the very next play, nixing the Redskins’ chance to snatch the lead or tie the game. It looked as though turnovers would be the Redskins Achilles heal once again. After the fumble by Morris, Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz for an impressive 49 yard strike as Cruz easily left DeAngelo Hall in the dust. The Redskins secondary gave up numerous big plays on the night, with the bomb to Cruz being one of the biggest. To their credit, the defense clamped down on that same drive and held the Giants to a field goal, keeping the score at a manageable 16 – 10.
After the Morris fumble on the previous drive, the Redskins did not shy away from the ground game and went right back to their rookie running back and he rewarded them with hard earned yards and big plays. With 12:00 minutes to go in the game, RGIII hooked up with Leonard Hankerson on a quick slant for 14 yards, setting up the Redskins with a key 1st and Goal. On the very next play, RGIII showed why he is so dangerous, freezing the Giants defense with a read option and hitting a streaking Pierre Garcon for the touchdown. The Redskins took a 17-16 lead and never looked back.
The Giants had chances to take control of the game, but committed a total of nine penalties throughout the night, which effectively buried them. The nine penalties by the Giants were the most they’ve committed in two years. Alfred Morris finished the game with 22 rushes for 124 yards and Robert Griffin III finished 13 for 21 with 163 yards and 1 TD. As if all that wasn’t enough, RGIII also broke Cam Newton’s rookie rushing record for a quarterback. With the win, the Redskins continue their remarkable post bye week run, winning three straight divisional games and setting themselves up as serious contenders for a playoff spot. For a franchise that has not won a division title since 1999 and not seen the playoffs since 2007, Monday night was an incredible step forward. The Redskins will try to extend their win streak next week against a tough Baltimore Ravens team. The Giants will try to regroup next week against the NFC leading, Atlanta Falcons.