Final: New York 19, Washington 10
In a game where the Washington Redskins desperately needed a win, it was the Giants who showed up in a big way and took the victory. New York rode its defense as it has for the majority of the season and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was able to come away with the game-winning interception late in the fourth quarter to bring the Giants their eleventh win of the season. Perhaps most surprisingly is that Big Blue kept most of their starters in for a majority of the game instead of resting them for the playoffs. Speaking of the post-season, the Redskins are now eliminated from the dance and will have to stew in the bile of a crushing defeat until the 2017 season kicks off.
Washington’s offense was, for the most part, handled by the Giants defense. They had just six first downs through the first three quarters and 4/12 on third down throughout the game. Kirk Cousins was not great, but also not completely terrible. He did not see some open receivers and was a little off on some of the throws. There was plenty of pressure on him throughout the game accounting for some of this. He was under duress when he floated the game-ending interception to Rodgers-Cromartie late in the fourth quarter and the throw was a bit behind the intended receiver as a result. The offensive line was poor in this game and did nothing to bolster any kind of a rushing attack until late in the game when they began pulling their guards on sweep plays. Again, Cousins did not receive optimal protection either and he had trouble getting the ball to open receivers since the New York secondary was in lock-down mode, even after Janoris Jenkins was pulled. Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed were the standouts on offense for Washington. Reed was a favorite target and did get open a bit underneath while Garcon was the man who converted a 3rd and 17 later in the fourth quarter that lead to a game-tying touchdown to Reed on the next play. The lack of a running game is what ended up killing the ‘Skins shot at a postseason berth here because they were unable to find any kind of balance that would keep the offense unpredictable.
The flip side to the story was how well the Giants’ defense played on the road. They received huge performances from a lot of their men. First of all, it was quite a bit surprising to see how much man-to-man coverage that they rolled out. Washington normally thrives in these situations and they were unable to do so here. The secondary was outstanding. Eli Apple had one of his better efforts of the year, but it was Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who was making all of the splash plays on the back end with two picks (he also nearly blocked a PAT in the fourth quarter as well). Up front for Big Blue, Damon Harrison was a monster and probably the best player from the New York defense in this contest. He accounted for a couple of hurries and run stops as well as a sack. He did a beautiful job sniffing out a screen pass by the Redskins that did have some promise with blockers out front in the final frame. Keenan Robinson showed a lot with some solid form tackling and a nice sideline to sideline presence. The Giants “D” was terrific and deserves a ton of credit for keeping the explosive Washington offense at bay.
The New York offense was not overly impressive here, but they were able to do some nice things, starting with a great effort running the ball. This game resembled what the Giants were back in 2008 with a fantastic defensive performance coupled with a dominant running game. Paul Perkins turned in the first 100+ yard rushing game for the G-Men on the season and did a lot of the dirty work behind the left side of the offensive line and Ereck Flowers, who had a nice game despite being flagged for yet another holding penalty. Eli Manning did underthrow a few of his passes, but his waning arm strength did not look to be an issue late in the game when he hooked up with Tavarres King for a 44-yard gain that lead to the go-ahead and eventual game winning field goal. The New York receivers were easily able to get open early in the game against some pretty soft zone coverage. Josh Norman did follow Odell Beckham Jr. around for most of the game while OBJ was in there and while he did not let up an explosive play, Beckham did get the better of him quite a few times with good routes. The Giants did fall into a bad lull in the second half offensively after they were so good in the first couple of quarters and this was mainly due to the fact that they were not able to run the ball with as much success. When the ground game was cranking, New York was able to move the ball up and down the field, but the Redskins did catch on to this and once they shut the rushing attack down it was tough sledding for the #5 seeded team. Going into the playoffs the Giants will have to be sure to address this spot because the offense yet again did not put up a lot of points. Six of them came on the final play of the game when Trevin Wade picked up a loose ball and walked it into the end zone.
Defensively for Washington, the team was pushed around a bit early on but they eventually got their bearings straight and were able to contain the Giants’ attack. In the second half they really stacked the box and began to load the left side of the formation to cut down on the rushing attack that was pretty successful at the open. The Redskins’ secondary was not great but was also very conservative and more concerned with guarding against the big play. They did a good job with this until the aforementioned 44-yard completion to King. Greg Toler was not too good in coverage, but Brashaud Breeland was, someone who had stepped his play up considerably over the final weeks of the season. Also, as a side nugget, Mason Foster was everywhere in this game getting in on 17 tackles, 15 solo. Ryan Kerrigan did leave the game with an injury in the first quarter and there was certainly a lack of a pass rush after he did exit. All and all, the Redskin defense has nothing to be ashamed of in this game, they were not the reason why the team will be missing the playoffs at 8-7-1 following this heartbreaking loss.
The Giants will now hit the road and play the winner of the NFC North on the road in the wild card round. Their offensive woes will need to be overcome if this team is going to make one of their runs towards the Super Bowl, but they certainly have the defense to keep them in many of the games they may be playing. For the Redskins, this is a crusher. Kirk Cousins had a great opportunity to lead his team down the field for the win and a playoff berth in the waning seconds, but was unable to do so and that is going to be a big black mark on their 2016 season. He did end up throwing for nearly 5,000 yards this year and that alone could land him a big contract, but it is going to be tough to overlook the failure that was this game for the Redskins. Their offense let them down when they needed a win the most.
- The Washington Redskins are eliminated from playoff contention with this loss. A win would have earned them the #6 seed.
- Washington could not run the ball for the majority of this game and only managed one rushing first down throughout the entirety of the contest.
- The Redskins defense did a good job limiting the explosive plays and keeping the ball in front of them, but unfortunately they did not receive much help from their offense come the end of the game.
- The New York defense was great yet again as they intercepted Kirk Cousins twice and held the Redskins to 4/12 on third down. Washington was tops in the league when it came to not going three and out and the Giants forced them to do just that five times.
- For the first time this year, the Giants offense had a 100+ yard rusher in Paul Perkins who has come on lately and is looking like he could be the lead back heading into the playoffs and next season.
- The Giant offense is still very much a work in progress as the team managed only 13 points on that side of the ball. Their game became predictable and easy to shut down in the second half and could be a problem come playoff time.