|Once again, Giants QB Eli Manning pulls out a late-game win, as New York beat arch-rival Washington 27-23. (US Presswire)|
Did the Giants “escape” with a 27-23 victory on Sunday or did they get the better of an underrated Washington Redskins team?
Seeing as the Redskins had the same kind of success in Week 7 that they did over the first six weeks of the year, it’s probably the latter.
Once again, Washington stopped the run, ran the ball well and quarterback Robert Griffin III had success with his arm (20 of 28, 258 yards, two touchdowns, one interceptions) and with his legs (89 yards on nine carries).
If you expected the first-place Giants to beat the Redskins easily -- something that happed routinely before Washington won both meetings last year -- you were in for a surprise.
But, if you’ve noticed the changes that have gone on with Mike Shanahan’s team over the last seven months -- and the way the team has played so far this season -- then Sunday’s game wasn’t an aberration, but the beginning of new, more competitive phase of a great rivalry.
After gaining nearly 400 running yards over the last two weeks, the Giants backs were stopped in their tracks by the Redskins defense. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was visibly frustrated during the game and didn’t speak with reporters afterward, but it’s safe to assume that he wanted more than 12 carries on Sunday despite dealing with a nagging foot injury. Quarterback Eli Manning tossed two interceptions, but still pulled out another fourth-quarter comeback thanks to a 77-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz. Hakeem Nicks (knee/foot) was targeted 10 times, making only five catches, so he’s still not back at full strength. Fortunately, tight end Martellus Bennett proved he’s over his hyper-extended knee, finishing with five catches and 79 receiving yards. Previous game's grade: A-
Yes, the Redskins out-possessed the Giants and had almost 100 more yards of offense, but Perry Fewell’s unit has a lot to be happy about. Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul all sacked an extremely slippery quarterback, safety Stevie Brown had a game-changing interception in place of the injured Kenny Phillips and linebackers Chase Blackburn, Michael Boley and Keith Rivers combined to make 27 tackles. The bad news is that Alfred Morris rushed for 120 yards on just 22 carries, which is something that can’t sit well with Fewell. Of course, his unit did come away with four turnovers, so how mad can he really be? Previous game's grade: A+
Special teams: B
Lawrence Tynes hit all three of his field goal attempts and Steve Weatherford dropped one of his three punts inside the 20-yard line, but other than that it was a pretty mediocre day for this unit. Rookie David Wilson’s longest return was 32 yards and the team didn’t register a single punt return. Perhaps the best aspect of special teams on Sunday was the kickoffs. The Redskins had just one return for 17 yards. Previous game's grade: B-
Unlike last week, the Giants’ were unable to get the running game going after a slow start, but offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride still deserves some kudos, particularly for his play calling in the fourth quarter. Fewell had to scheme against a very unique offense, and deserves plenty of credit as well. Coach Tom Coughlin’s team was more disciplined (three penalties to seven) and ultimately victorious. Previous game's grade: A
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