EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – After two straight nailbiters to start the season, the New York Giants were on the wrong side of a close one, a 29-27 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The loss drops the Giants to 2-1 and cuts short a start to the season that seemingly was building momentum.
Dustin Hopkins kicked a 37-yard field goal with 1:51 left in the game to give the Redskins a 29-27 lead and a lifeline on their season. The Redskins are now 1-2 this season.
The game’s first break came with 13:23 left in the first quarter when Washington muffed a punt, the ball bouncing off Quinton Dunbar’s leg. Giants wide receiver Dwayne Harris recovered; three plays and 28 yards later Shane Vereen’s 1-yard touchdown run gave the Giants an early 7-0 lead.
With six seconds left in the first half and the Giants holding onto a 21-16 lead, the Redskins had the ball on the 4-yard line and inexplicably chose to go for it rather than kick a field goal. The Giants made it a costly decision for Washington as Jason Pierre-Paul sacked Kirk Cousins, stripped him, and New York hopped on the fumble.
In a 26-24 game, Dunbar atoned for his mistake earlier and made a key interception in the end zone with 13:35 left in the fourth quarter, halting a Giants drive that seemed destined for points.
Eli Manning was intercepted late in the game by Washington linebacker Su’a Cravens as they were starting to piece together a late-game drive.
Burying the champs … almost
The Giants had the Redskins on the ropes, taking a lead into the two-minute warning. The Redskins were battered and bruised in the game but hung around. An Eli Manning fourth quarter interception as well as a Shane Vereen fumble gave Washington life and the defending NFC East champs took advantage. The Redskins played like a desperate team, unwilling to go down 0-3 on the season with a loss at MetLife. This game might loom large if the Giants don’t take the division or miss the playoffs yet again. The game was theirs for the taking, and they left it to the visitors.
Welcome to the main event
All week long the talk about the matchup between Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was admittedly tame. It was a shock that there wasn’t more vitriol in the headlines given the events surrounding their confrontation on the field last year and their war of words this offseason. On the field Norman, who came into Week 3 tied for the NFL lead with four pass breakups, did have a nice pass breakup with 6:23 left in the first quarter, sprawling and nearly intercepting a pass to Beckham.
There was very little between the two in terms of antics or a rumble other than a first quarter tussle where Norman picked up Beckham and softly threw him to the ground.
In his three previous games against Washington, Beckham came in averaging 121 yards per game and has five receiving touchdowns. But after a slow three quarters, Beckham came alive in the fourth quarter for 19 yards then on the next play evaded several tacklers for a 24-yard link-up. He would finish with 121 yards, the sixteenth time in his career that he topped 100 yards in a game. He also went over 3,000 receiving yards in his career, fastest ever to accomplish that feat in NFL history.
But he had no receiving touchdowns.
Bend, don’t break
Given injuries to their secondary, including rookie safety Darian Thompson, and then losing cornerback Eli Apple at the midpoint of the second quarter - the Giants didn’t have all their firepower. In the first half, the Giants gave up five scoring drives but just one touchdown, something that kept them in the game as they struggled to find their pass rush.
Some of those stops to hold Washington to field goals were key in keeping the game close and giving the Giants a lead deep into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for them, their offense struggled with turnovers and penalties that stalled the unit.