Interception helps Skins lead Giants 17-14 after 3
LANDOVER, Md. (AP)
The problems that have plagued Giants quarterback Eli Manning much of the season - interceptions and sacks - arose again Sunday night, and Brandon Meriweather's pick set up a field goal that gave Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins a 17-14 lead over New York after three quarters.
In a prime-time matchup between teams at the bottom of the NFC East, Manning and Griffin were nearly perfect in the first half, combining to go 26 for 29 for 250 yards, two TD passes and zero turnovers.
But on third-and-2 from his 23 with the score tied in the third quarter, Manning threw too high for Rueben Randle.
The ball went off the receiver's left hand and was grabbed by Meriweather, who returned it to the New York 12. Kai Forbath's 33-yard field goal made it 17-14 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.
It was Manning's 18th interception, versus 15 TD passes, the first time since his rookie season in 2004 that he has more picks. The Giants have an NFL-worst 31 turnovers.
New York went three-and-out on its next possession, which finished with Brian Orakpo's second sack of Manning. That raised Manning's total to 30 sacks in 2013, matching his career high.
New York was using its sixth offensive line combination in 12 games, after center Jim Cordle went on injured reserve. Kevin Boothe moved back to center after playing most of the season at left guard, and James Brewer shifted to left guard.
Griffin, meanwhile, got off to a perfect start aside from a couple of pratfalls, completing his first 12 throws and helping Washington take a 14-0 lead before the Giants evened the score at halftime.
Under all sorts of scrutiny lately - involving everything from his father's presence in the locker room to whether offensive linemen are offering a helping hand after plays - Griffin began 12 for 12 for 111 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Logan Paulsen in the second quarter.
The dozen completions in a row matched Griffin's career-best streak, and he entered the fourth quarter 18 for 21 for 165 yards.
In the third quarter, Griffin surpassed 3,000 yards passing for the season, making him only the fourth player since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to throw for that many in each of first two seasons. Manning's older brother Peyton, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton were the others.
Griffin also ran for a season-high-equaling 84 yards on 11 carries through three quarters.
A couple of those runs closed with awkward tumbles. At the end of a 15-yard run early in the second quarter, Griffin's feet slid out from under him on the sideline and he slammed onto his backside - as though a banana peel were the culprit.
Later in that quarter, Griffin appeared to trip over a down marker after a 9-yard run and slammed into the crowded Giants sideline. Again, he hopped right up.
Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon had four catches for 32 yards receiving in the first half, giving him a career-high 951 yards this season.
New York answered Washington's first two scores with Andre Brown's 23-yard touchdown run, culminating a 74-yard drive that included 58 on the ground, followed by Manning's 22-yard TD pass to Brandon Myers with 35 seconds left in the first half.
On the latter drive, Manning was 6 for 6 for 74 yards, giving him nine straight completed passes. He was 10 for 12 for 101 at halftime, and then stretched his completion streak to 10 early in the third quarter before throwing an incompletion.
Entering the fourth quarter, Manning was 15 of 20 for 160 yards, with the one TD and one interception.
Griffin and Washington started the game in a hurry-up offense that effectively mixed runs and throws to cover 73 yards over 14 plays, capped by Alfred Morris' 1-yard plunge for the Redskins' first opening-possession touchdown of the season.
Griffin went 5 for 5 for 57 yards on the drive, completing one pass each to five receivers, including oft-inactive tight end Fred Davis' first catch since September.
The drive included an early fourth-and-1 at the Washington 49, and Griffin got the first down on a keeper.
The Giants did not get a first down until more than four minutes into the second quarter, when Peyton Hillis ran for 8 yards on third-and-1. Hillis gained 27 on the next play, too, only the team's second run of 20-plus yards all season.
Two plays after that came New York's third such rushing play of 2013, when Brown got to the end zone.
Redskins safety Reed Doughty left at halftime Sunday with a concussion.
Both teams entered the evening with only the slimmest of mathematical hopes of reaching the postseason - Washington was 3-8, New York was 4-7 - and the Redskins would be officially eliminated with a loss.
As it is, Washington came in with a 0-4 record in prime time this season, including a 27-6 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers last Monday night.
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