NFC East wide open after Redskins top Giants 17-16

There was the fumble by Robert Griffin III that turned into a

Washington Redskins touchdown. There was the fumble by teammate

Alfred Morris that led to a melee of leg-pulling followed by a kick

to the midsection and something dangerously close to a stomp.

The quartet of flawed teams that make up the NFC East sure do

make things interesting.

The division title that seemingly belonged to the New York

Giants is up for grabs after their 17-16 loss Monday night to the

Redskins, who are back in the running thanks to a rookie

quarterback and a three-game winning streak.

”We had an opportunity here today,” New York coach Tom

Coughlin said. ”But now there’s one team with seven and two teams

with six wins. There’s four games to go.”

That about sums it up.

Now that the Giants (7-5) have lost three of four, the Redskins

(6-6) and Cowboys (6-6) are squarely in the hunt despite mediocre

records. Washington has dispatched each of its division rivals –

Philadelphia, Dallas and now New York – one by one over the last

three weeks to recover from a 3-6 start that prompted coach Mike

Shanahan to talk about evaluating players for future seasons.

”We know that our backs are against the wall,” said Griffin,

whose Redskins host Dallas in what they hope will be a meaningful

season finale. ”And even though we won tonight, our backs are

still against the wall.”

It’ll be hard to count the Redskins out as long as Griffin is on

the field. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 163 yards and a

go-ahead, 8-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon in the fourth quarter

to finish with a 101.9 passer rating. He also ran for 72 yards to

get to 714 for the season, breaking Cam Newton’s NFL record for a

rookie quarterback.

It was his sixth game with a 100-plus passer rating, his eighth

without an interception – and his second in which one of his

fumbles turned into a Redskins score.

On the way to the turf after a 12-yard run, Griffin was stripped

by Stevie Brown – but the ball flew right to teammate Joshua Morgan

3 yards upfield. Morgan then ran 13 yards for a first-quarter

touchdown no one would ever diagram on a whiteboard.

”We didn’t run it 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.”

The game’s other fumble was just as chaotic – and a little

scary. After Morris was stripped during a third-quarter run, New

York defensive tackle Linval Joseph yanked at Redskins center Will

Montgomery’s leg while players were fighting for the ball in the


Montgomery kicked out in response, a swipe that Joseph said hit

him in the groin.

”I was just trying to get my leg loose,” Montgomery said.

Joseph then stomped at Montgomery, appearing to pull back at the

last second but still making contact.

”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.”

Joseph and a Redskins player were whistled for offsetting

unnecessary roughness penalties.

Morris finished with 124 yards, reaching 1,106 for the season to

break Reggie Brooks’ franchise rookie rushing record of 1,063, set

in 1993. Garcon caught eight passes for 106 yards, showing no signs

of the painful toe injury that forced him to miss six of the

season’s first nine games.

Eli Manning completed 20 of 33 passes for 280 yards and a

touchdown, and Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 103 yards on 24 carries for

the Giants. Victor Cruz, who caught the game-winning score when the

teams met in the Meadowlands in October, had five catches for 104


The Giants moved the ball well, but they only managed three

field goals by Lawrence Tynes and one touchdown – Manning’s 4-yard

pass to Martellus Bennett late in the second quarter.

Tynes also missed a 43-yard field goal, and the Giants were

uncharacteristically penalty-prone, getting flagged nine times for

73 yards. New York led 13-10 at the half, but scored only three

more points.

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

the second half,” Coughlin said. ”We certainly didn’t come out

and play. Penalties. Sloppy football.”

NOTES: The Giants had won 26 in a row on the road when holding a

halftime lead. They last failed to finish the job in 2006 against

Tennessee. … The Redskins snapped a 10-game home losing streak in

Monday night games. … Shanahan got his 171st win (regular and

postseason), tying him with Redskins’ Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs

for 12th all time. … New York S Tyler Sash left the game with a

hamstring injury, and RT Sean Locklear was carted off in the fourth

quarter with a knee injury.

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