Thursday nights matchup against the New York Giants was a big time game for the Washington Redskins for multiple reasons.
A loss would mean Washington would have sole possession of last place in the NFC East with a record of 0-2 as well as an overall record of 1-3.
Playing in front of their home crowd at FedEx Field, the Redskins looked out of their element for most of the game as Eli Manning led the Giants with five total touchdowns, en route to a 45-14 victory.
The game started with the New York Giants taking possession first and got off to a rocky start for Washington as Jason Hatcher was flagged for an extremely soft roughing the passer on the first play.
The Giants failed to convert on a manageable third down and were forced to punt. This would be one of the few times the Giants would come up short in the game.
On the first offensive play for the Redskins, Kirk Cousins hit Niles Paul across the middle for 14 yards on a nice play action call. A few plays later Cousins picked up a first down on a nice read option play, channeling his inner RGIII and showing that he has some wheels too.
Things started well for Cousins who was coming off a monster game against Philadelphia last Sunday in which he threw for over 400 yards.
A few plays later, Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka beat Tyler Polumbus and was able to strip the ball as he laid a clean hit on Cousins. The Giants recovered the fumble and got great field position at the Washington 32.
Manning took his team down the field quickly and hit second year tight end, Larry Donnell down the middle to give the Giants a 7-0 lead with 7:35 to go in the first quarter.
The score marked the first time that New York has put up points in the first quarter this season. And unfortunately for Washington, it would be the first of many hookups between Manning and Donnell.
After going down 7-0, the Redskins came back focused on the run, feeding Alfred Morris on consecutive plays. The Redskins faced a reasonable 3rd and 5, but Cousins could not connect with a receiver, forcing the ‘Skins to punt.
After trading punts, Manning got the Giants going once again, sparked by a 36-yard pass to Victor Cruz.
The Giants started the second quarter on a positive note as Manning once again linked up with tight end Larry Donnell for a touchdown, this time beating Brandon Merriweather in man coverage.
Down 14-0 at this point, the ensuing drive finally saw the Redskins begin to click and move the ball as Cousins hooked up with DeSean Jackson and Niles Paul, getting the Redskins into striking distance for the first time in the game.
Captain Kirk showed great poise throughout the drive, hooking up with six different receivers on the drive, the last one being Andre Roberts for an 18-yard touchdown.
The scoring drive was pivotal for the ‘Skins because up until that point, the offense hadn’t looked like the high-flying scoring machine that it was against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles.
Not to be outdone though, the Giants came right back and put together a 12 play, 67-yard touchdown scoring drive which ate up 6:34.
On the following possession, Washington moved the ball well once again–and was aided by penalties against the Giants–until Logan Paulsen coughed up the pigskin at the New York 18 yard line with just 1:16 left to play in the half.
The Giants got the ball back and Manning sliced up the Redskins defense once again, going 71 yards in just 8 plays which allowed the Giants to tack on a field goal and take a 24-7 lead into the locker room.
Washington played a poor first half, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Things didn’t look too good going into the third quarter, but impressively, the Redskins did a good job of wiping the first half out of their memories as they started the second half on an offensive tear.
A 20 yard touchdown run by Morris capped off a 5 play, 83 yard drive which got Washington right back into the game.
The Giants got the ball back and after converting on six consecutive third down plays, they were unable to pick up a first down to extend their first drive of the second half.
Unfortunately for Washington, the defensive stop was wasted as Cousins threw an errant pass in the direction of rookie wide receiver Ryan Grant, right into the arms of Prince Amukamara who took the ball 28 yards down to the Washington 21.
The Giants moved the ball quickly down to the six yard line where Manning hit Rueben Randle with a pass that appeared to be another touchdown. It looked as if Randle had possession in the end zone, but the ball was quickly knocked into the air by Brandon Merriweather and intercepted by Keenan Robinson.
The call was reviewed by the officials and was upheld as the Redskins took over possession on their own one-yard line with a chance to cut the deficit once again.
But once again, Cousins threw a bad pass which was intercepted.
This time, the Giants did not let the turnover go to waste as Manning hooked up with backup tight end Daniel Fells giving Manning his fourth touchdown pass of the game.
It was at this point that the game really began to get out of hand.
Cousins inexplicably threw another interception, driving his INT total to three in the third quarter–something that hadn’t been done in the NFL since Brad Johnson did it in 2006.
It was a horrendous turn of events for Cousins and the Redskins offense who seemed to be off for much of the night.
Manning and the Giants offense had their way with Washington’s secondary all night as Eli finished an impressive 28 of 39 for 300 yards. Manning finished with four passing touchdowns and–gasp–one rushing touchdown.
There wasn’t much that Manning did wrong on Thursday night while Cousins had the worst game of his short career, completing 19 of 33 passes for 257 yards, 1 touchdown and four interceptions.
The Redskins fall to 1-3 while the Giants improve to 3-1.
Speaking to the media after the game, Jay Gruden confirmed three Redskins injuries. Niles Paul has a concussion, Trent Williams has a knee strain and Jarvis Jenkins has bruised ribs.