Giants keep slim playoff hopes alive with win over Redskins
Eli Manning and Robert Griffin III put on quite the show in the first half.
Then the two quarterbacks and their teams — both with not-ready-for-prime-time records — showed how they’ve become the bottom-feeders of the NFC East.
Yet one team had to win, and it was the New York Giants who took advantage of the latest Washington Redskins special teams error to set up the go-ahead touchdown.
Andre Brown had a pair of touchdown runs Sunday night, and Justin Tuck had four sacks — more than doubling his total from the season — as the Giants beat the Redskins 24-17 to stay on the fringes of the playoff race.
The win keeps the Giants (5-7) two games behind division leaders Dallas and Philadelphia with four to play, while the Redskins (3-9) were eliminated from the postseason for the 17th time in 21 years and finished the season 0-5 in prime time.
"After last week’s loss we were probably going to have to win five in a row, and this is the first one," Manning said. "You can’t win five in a row unless you win the first one. Now that we have done that we have to keep going."
Safety Will Hill sewed up the victory when he wrestled the ball from Pierre Garcon after the receiver made a catch near midfield with 1:21 remaining as the Redskins were driving for a possible tying score.
The turnover came two plays after a confusing moment in which Washington apparently thought it had a first down — the sideline down marker was at "1" — when it was actually third-and-1.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan vented at officials over the miscue.
Manning and Griffin were a combined 26 for 29 for 250 yards at halftime — before the same troubles that have beset both teams resurfaced in droves.
Manning had a high throw tipped for an interception in the third quarter, and he remains on course to have more interceptions than touchdown passes for the first time since his rookie season. Manning was also sacked three times, giving him a career-high of 31 for the season.
But the Redskins could only convert Manning’s interception into a field goal — even though they got the ball at the New York 12. That gave Washington a 17-14 lead, which evaporated after a gaffe by the consensus worst special teams units in the league.
Redskins long snapper Kyle Nelson sent a bouncing grounder back to punter Sav Rocca, leading to a blocked punt that was compounded by a holding penalty on Nelson that added 10 yards to the final spot.
The Giants took over at the Washington 46 and then took the lead, needing only four plays and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on cornerback DeAngelo Hall to produce Brown’s 1-yard touchdown run that made the score 21-17 early in the fourth quarter.
Josh Brown added an insurance 39-yard field goal with 2:32 remaining.
Manning finished 22 for 28 passes for 235 yards, including a streak of 10 consecutive completions and a 22-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Myers in the second quarter.
Griffin completed his first 12 passes, looking like the dynamic playmaker of 2012 as he found receivers from the pocket and used his speed to exploit the fringes of the Giants defense on option runs.
But the Redskins offense went cold late for the second consecutive week, gaining only 96 yards in the second half.
After going 16 for 17 for 149 yards in the first half, Griffin was 8 for 15 for 58 yards in the second for a final line of 24 for 32 for 207 yards and a season-high 88 yards rushing on 12 carries.
He wasn’t sacked in the first half, but he went down five times in the second half. Tuck had four, after having only 2 sacks coming into the game.
"Our secondary did a great job of giving RG some different reads and make him hold the ball a little longer than what he had been doing previously," Tuck said, "and I was able to capitalize on it."
The Redskins also scored a touchdown on their opening possession for the first time this season, using the no-huddle offense to go 73 yards. Tight end Fred Davis made his first catch since Week 2 along the way, and the drive ended with Alfred Morris’ 1-yard run.
A 19-yard pass to Logan Paulsen gave the Redskins a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter, but the Giants started their comeback with something unusual for this season — a pair of long runs.
The Giants had only one running play of 20-plus yards in 2013 entering the game, but they had two on the same drive, including a 23-yard touchdown run by Brown that made the score 14-7. Manning’s pass to Myers tied the game just before the half.