Washington Redskins 29 – New York Giants 27
Stating the obvious, this was a bad loss. Every team in the reinvigorated NFC East won on Sunday except for the Giants. The 2015 version of this team reared its ugly head as breakdowns on offense, defense, and special teams all contributed to a very close, heart-breaking defeat.
We’ll address the more specific factors why the team lost below, but the best indicator of success and failure in the NFL is the turnover differential. And for the third game in a row, the Giants turned the ball over more than their opponent. Through three games, the Giants have turned the ball over seven times (4 fumbles, 3 interceptions) and only have one take-a-way (which was a gimme muffed punt). You can’t keep losing the turnover battle and win. It will catch up to you and it did on Sunday.
Another factor was penalties. Coming into the game, the Giants had only committed seven (accepted) infractions on the season. On Sunday, the Giants were penalized 11 times for 128 yards. And a few of these penalties came at the worst time on offense, defense, and special teams.
Giants on Offense
Despite accruing 457 total net yards (337 passing, 120 rushing) and 28 first downs, and being a respectable 44 percent on 3rd down conversions, the Giants offense was a major factor in the loss. Significant negatives included:
- Three turnovers (2 interceptions and 1 fumble). The RB Shane Vereen fumble occurred on the Washington 34-yard line late in the first half, possibly eliminating at least a field goal opportunity. The QB Eli Manning first interception occurred in the end zone, erasing certain points. The last interception was devastating as the Giants were attempting to set up a game-winning field goal attempt.
- For the second game in a row, red zone offense was an issue. New York was 2-of-5 (40 percent) in red zone chances and had to settle for field goals of 29 and 30 yards. As mentioned, they also turned the football over in the red zone.
- Killer (and dumb) penalty on center Weston Richburg for unsportsmanlike conduct. This occurred on play where Eli Manning hit Odell Beckham for a 24-yard gain down to the Washington 5-yard line. Instead, the Giants were moved back to the 20-yard line. Two plays later, Manning was intercepted in the end zone.
- The top PRODUCTIVE receiving targets remain Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Victor Cruz. However, the other tight ends and backs are not making plays. The top three wide receivers caught 15-of-21 passes thrown their way for 264 yards and one touchdown. Manning was 10-of-17 on his other throws to tight ends and backs for 86 yards and two interceptions.
Overall, the Giants scored touchdowns on half of their six first-half possessions with two punts and a turnover. In the second half, the Giants scored only two field goals on five possessions with one punt and two turnovers.
Interesting note: the Giants did not run the football in the 4th quarter despite the game being close.
Giants on Defense
Losing corners Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie hurt, but the overall defense took a major step backwards on Sunday. Not only did the Giants give up 403 total net yards (313 passing, 90 rushing) but they had a number of other issues:
- For the third game in a row, the defense did not force a turnover.
- The Redskins scored on 4-of-5 first-half possessions and would have been a perfect 5-of-5 for not the boneheaded play by Kirk Cousins to not throw the ball away on the last play of the first half.
- The defense allowed drives of 60 (11 plays), 75 (2 plays), 56 (8 plays), 50 (3 plays), 68 (15 plays), and 56 (10 plays) yards in the game. This allowed Washington to hold a sizeable time-of-possession advantage (33:26 to 26:34). The Redskins were only forced to punt twice all day.
- The Giants had the lead three times in the second half. The defense could not hold that lead.
- Coming into the game, the Giants defense had only allowed three plays of over 20 yards with the longest being 23 yards. On Sunday, the Skins had six plays of 20 yards or more, including 55 yards (touchdown), 44 yards (touchdown), and 31 yards. The most-damning play was the 55-yard touchdown allowed on a WR-screen on 3rd-and-15. But the two-play, 75-yard drive after the Giants had gone up 21-9 late in the first half also hurt. The Giants defense actually held the Redskins to 0-for-4 in the red zone and 0-for-2 in goal-to-go situations. But half of the Skins points came on two plays that covered 99 yards.
- The 15-yard roughing-the-pass penalty called on DE Olivier Vernon on an incomplete 2nd-and-14 pass on the game-winning drive may have saved the day for Washington.
Giants on Special Teams
Special teams were a major reason why the Giants lost this game:
- The Giants gave up a 50-yard punt return early in the second quarter. The Skins only netted nine yards after the return, but it was enough to set up a successful 45-yard field goal.
- The Redskins were able to regain the lead 26-24 after they successfully executed a fake punt that picked up 31 yards.
- Andrew Adams’ unnecessary roughness penalty in the 4th quarter erased a blocked punt by DE Romeo Okwara that would have given the Giants the ball inside the Redskins 20-yard line.
Overall, this defeat was a team effort from the starting quarterback down to the man who was signed to the 53-man roster on Saturday. A play here or there, and the Giants would have won this game. Those words sound hauntingly reminiscent of 2015.