Giants’ East lead narrows with 17-16 loss to Skins

New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin settled his hands on his hips

and launched into a 90-second assessment of the way his team

managed to lose despite avoiding any turnovers and repeatedly

putting together long drives.

It was a postgame news conference following New York’s 17-16

defeat against the Washington Redskins on Monday night. It sounded

like a speech he might deliver to his players.

”This is not real complicated. I don’t know what happened in

the second half. We certainly didn’t come out and play. Penalties.

Sloppy football,” Coughlin said. ”Just disappointing to come down

here and play like this.”

Suddenly, after a rare loss after leading at halftime on the

road, the reigning Super Bowl champions are facing a real fight

down the stretch for the NFC East title.

The Giants have lost three of four games to drop to 7-5, only

one game ahead of the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, who are both


”We have to find a way to close this thing out,” defensive end

Osi Umenyiora said.

The Giants now face what could be a tough stretch of three

games, hosting the New Orleans Saints next week, before going on

the road to take on the NFC South-leading Atlanta Falcons and the

AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens.

A victory over Washington would have given New York a more

comfortable division lead.

”We had an opportunity here today,” Coughlin said.

But his team was whistled for nine penalties – about twice its

average entering Monday – and perhaps none was more bothersome than

a holding call on Will Beatty on a third-down play that Eli Manning

had completed a pass that appeared to be good enough for first


”That’s not our M.O.,” defensive lineman Justin Tuck said.

And despite a string of lengthy drives, the Giants kept settling

for field-goal attempts. Lawrence Tynes made three, but he missed a

43-yarder wide left in the first half of the one-point loss.

Two-time Super Bowl MVP Manning is the quarterback known for

fourth-quarter rallies, but this time it was Redskins rookie Robert

Griffin III bringing his team back from a deficit. The Giants led

13-10 at halftime, and they had won 26 consecutive games when ahead

at that point away from home.

New York failed to get the job done for the first time since

blowing a 21-0 halftime lead in a 24-21 loss to Tennessee in 2006.

The Giants’ defense could not get the ball back to its offense down

the stretch.

”Terrible. That’s what you strive for,” Coughlin said. ”We

talk `Finish, finish, finish, finish, finish.”’

But after New York went up 16-10, the man known as RG3 threw an

8-yard go-ahead TD pass to Pierre Garcon early in the fourth


It was the Redskins’ first touchdown that was one of the

evening’s crazy moments.

On second-and-2 from the New York 28, Griffin ran to his left

and was being tackled by Stevie Brown after what would have been a

12-yard gain.

But as Griffin fell with his back to the ground, the ball popped

out and went right on the fly to Washington receiver Joshua Morgan

3 yards farther upfield. Morgan then ran 13 yards for the


”We didn’t run (that play) in practice because we wanted to

save it for the game,” Griffin said with a grin. ”I knew he was

going to be there for it. … Joshua did a good job being in the

spot where he was supposed to be.”

It was the second time this season that a Griffin fumble has

turned into Redskins touchdown. Garcon recovered one in the end

zone in a win over Tampa Bay.

Another fumble by the Redskins – this one by Alfred Morris in

the third quarter – was recovered by the Giants and set off mayhem.

New York defensive tackle Linval Joseph yanked at Redskins center

Will Montgomery’s leg. Montgomery kicked at Joseph in response, and

Joseph began to stomp his foot at Montgomery but said later he held

up. Joseph and a Redskins player were whistled for offsetting

unnecessary roughness penalties.

”It took me everything not to kick him back because I didn’t

want hurt the team and I didn’t want to get fined and none of

that,” Joseph said. ”I started, then I stopped. I thought about


Notes: Manning completed 20 of 33 passes for 280 yards and a

4-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett. … Ahmad Bradshaw ran

for 103 yards on 24 carries, while Victor Cruz had five catches for

104 yards. … Griffin completed 13 of 21 passes for 163 yards and

ran five times for 72 yards, breaking Cam Newton’s NFL record for

yards rushing in a season by a rookie QB. … The Redskins have won

three games in a row. … Giants OT Sean Locklear was carted off

with a knee injury in the second half.

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