Giants hold on to second-half lead over Redskins for first win of the season
Brave words after difficult defeats don't come close to soothing a losing team's spirits. Only wins can turn that trick.
The New York Giants didn't let Washington steal a victory late, finishing off a 32-21 decision Thursday night on Odell Beckham Jr.'s 30-yard touchdown catch and Rueben Randle's 41-yarder.
The Giants fell apart in the fourth quarter of losses to Dallas and Atlanta. This time, New York (1-2) dominated most of the action against the injury-plagued Redskins (1-2), who lost veteran cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a right leg injury that looked serious.
"It's definitely important to get a win," said running back Rashad Jennings, whose blocked punt got things started for New York. "I'm reluctant to use the word confidence, but it puts assurance on everything we know we're capable of accomplishing. There's a lot of stuff we still need to clean up, obviously. But it feels good to get a win."
The Giants scored in nearly every way possible, beginning with Jennings blocking Tress Way's punt for a safety on Washington's opening series.
"Ever since I was a rookie, I've always had a knack for blocking punts," Jennings said. "I can't give you all my secrets, but you just anticipate. It just worked."
Andre Williams scored on a 1-yard run, Josh Brown kicked three field goals, and Beckham toasted Bashaud Breeland to settle matters. Randle had a 41-yard TD catch in the closing minutes, after which Washington's Rashad Ross returned the kickoff 101 yards for the final score.
New York also led at halftime and through three quarters of its losses to the Cowboys and Falcons.
"Players need the reinforcement that comes with closing out the game with a win," coach Tom Coughlin said.
Prince Amukamara and Uani Unga had interceptions of Kirk Cousins, who struggled once more against New York. Last season, he threw four picks in a loss to New York.
Washington, which has lost five straight to the Giants, got field goals of 44 and 37 yards from Dustin Hopkins, but any thoughts of a comeback ended when Matt Jones fumbled on his way into the end zone with 9 1-2 minutes remaining. A late 4-yard TD pass to Chris Thompson and 2-point conversion brought the deficit to 11, then Randle made his scoring catch.
"You go on the road and you play a big division game, a game like this, and you turn the ball over three times and have a punt blocked, and it's going to be very tough to overcome," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.
The victory provides some optimism for the Giants in the muddled NFC East, where Dallas is 2-0 but missing several stars, and Philadelphia is 0-2.
"I felt bad for the first two games," said Eli Manning, who struggled in key situations in the two losses. "We were right there, could easily have won. To not be at our best in final minutes of a game is frustrating. You have to want to get back in that moment, have success and feel good about yourselves."
Manning was coolly efficient, finishing 23 of 31 for 279 yards. Beckham had seven receptions for 79 yards, and Randle had seven for 116.
The Giants were super-aggressive with the blitz, with inconsistent results. Cousins' mobility helped him avoid sacks, but the sloppy Redskins couldn't find the end zone until it was too late.
New York, meanwhile, was scoring with variety. Jennings, who rushed for only 32 yards on the night, surged through to block Way's punt out of the side of the end zone for a quick 2-0 lead.
"Everyone has to contribute," Coughlin said, "including starters (on special teams)."
That margin increased to 9-0 after Amukamara jumped Pierre Garcon's route and picked off Cousins' pass deep in Washington territory. Williams rushed a yard for the TD four plays later.
Big plays by Randle (30-yard reception) and Daniel Fells (one-handed catch for 23 yards on third down) set up Josh Brown's field goals of 35 and 36 yards in the first half. Brown made a 48-yard in the third period.
New York was missing five starters, including top draft pick Ereck Flowers at left tackle and cornerback Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie. Washington was hit with several injuries during the game, the worst of which appeared to be Hall's. He had to be helped to the sideline, unable to put any weight on the leg. The team said he had a toe injury and Gruden said he "was not too thrilled" about Hall's injury being short term.
Notes: Redskins NT Kedric Golston broke a hand, but returned to the game. Left guard Shawn Lauvao hurt an ankle, while RT Morgan Moses damaged an elbow and OL Josh LeRibeus had a calf injury. Giants RB Orleans Darkwa hurt his knee. ... Cousins finished 30 of 49 for 315 yards. ... Washington rushed for only 88 yards, and New York managed only 84.