|Tom Coughlin can't be happy that the Giants defense played so poorly in Monday night's loss to the Redskins. (US Presswire)|
As tempting as it is to say that the Giants lost to the Redskins, 17-16, on Monday night because they committed nine costly penalties or because K Lawrence Tynes missed a 43-yard attempt, that wouldn't be the entire story.
The Giants didn’t lose to the Redskins because of some mental mistake, series of injuries (although OL Sean Locklear suffered a knee injury that could prove costly) or because of a bad call by the referees. The fact is, New York’s defense was unable to stop Washington’s running game, and no matter what else is happening, it’s nearly impossible to win a game when you surrender 207 rushing yards on 31 carries.
In fact, outside of their red-zone deficiency (1 of 2, 50 percent), the Giants offense played well (390 yards on offense, 33:13 of possession). But New York's defense couldn’t stop Washington’s running game, so the Redskins were able to run out the clock.
The Giants’ green zone -- as they call it -- was most definitely a red zone on Monday, but there were plenty of positives over the first 80 yards of the field. New York was 9 of 15 on third down and they gained 117 yards on 29 rushing plays. RB Ahmad Bradshaw was particularly strong, gaining 116 total yards on 24 carries and two catches. Plus, QB Eli Manning had his second successful scramble in as many games (this one for five yards).
There were some hiccups in the passing game, but WR Victor Cruz and WR Hakeem Nicks still combined for 147 receiving yards, while TE Martellus Bennett had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. Even WR Jerrel Jernigan (one catch, nine yards) and TE Bear Pascoe (one catch, 16 yards) made significant catches.
In the end, the Redskins defense forced field goals instead of allowing touchdowns and that was a major difference in the game. Previous game's grade: B
There’s not a lot of positives to write, but there are a few excuses: S Kenny Phillips (knee) wasn’t at 100 percent, so the team couldn’t use the three-safety formation; DE Justin Tuck (foot) and DE Jason Pierre-Paul (back) were playing hurt; and MLB Chase Blackburn (ankle, other stuff) had to be re-taped several times.
But those things don’t change anything. The Giants allowed QB Robert Griffin III and RB Alfred Morris to combine for 196 yards on the ground, and Griffin added another 163 yards and a touchdown pass through the air.
If the Giants see themselves as Super Bowl contenders, then Monday’s defensive performance better be a complete aberration because -- even though they allowed just 17 points -- they were completely outplayed. Previous game's grade: B
Special teams: C-
Yes, Tynes missed a field goal, but that happens to any kicker. He should get credit for hitting a 40-yard attempt as time was expiring in the first half, but fans won’t remember that as easily as the 43-yarder he missed.
As for the rest of the unit, everyone was pretty average. P Steve Weatherford had a nice net average (42.3 yards per attempt), but that’s about it for the positives. The biggest issues were the two penalties that C Jim Cordle committed in the return game. Previous game's grade: C+
The Giants can’t claim ignorance. They’re the first team to face the Redskins for a second time this season, and yet they didn’t look any better against the run than they did the first time. You can’t blame the missed tackles on defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, but his unit wasn’t prepared for the challenge and ultimately some of that blame falls on him. Fewell was dealt a tough card with the injury issues, so he probably had to make some difficult personnel decisions. However, the Giants defense did look considerably better in Week 12 using the three-safety formation than they did in the 4-3 base on Monday. Again, injuries may have dictated that decision.
As for offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, he seemed to abandon the pass in the second half, which moved away from the Giants’ strength and the Redskins’ weakness. Washington is great at defending the run, and even though Bradshaw had a great first half, New York would have done well to air it out more over the last 30 minutes. Previous game's grade: A-