Justin Tuck, right, finished with a career-high four sacks of Robert Griffin III. Credit: Getty Images
The Giants kept alive their slim playoff hopes as they knocked off the Redskins, 24-17.
Both the Eagles (7-5) and Cowboys (7-5) won this week, so the Giants (5-7) didn’t gain any ground in the NFC East, but with the win, they still managed to stay within striking distance with four games remaining in the regular season. Washington, conversely, was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.
Big Blue was spearheaded by a defense that’s been ascending for a couple months, as they stifled a Washington offense that’s been under fire from their ardent fanbase lately. Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III showed minimal flashes of the greatness that made the “RG3” moniker a household name as a rookie last season. He went 24-of-32 for 207 yards and a touchdown. The second-year passer was harried, knocked down, sacked and battered by a Giants defense that needed to pick up the slack for an offense that was methodical at best.
Linebacker Jon Beason, who’s been widely praised as the reason for New York’s defensive resurgence since coming over from Carolina via trade in early October, tallied a game-high 17 tackles, including 13 solo. Beason and Co. helped bottle up Washington’s star running back, Alfred Morris, who only had 26 rushing yards. Griffin actually led all runners with 88 yards.
Griffin’s counterpart, Eli Manning (22-of-28, 235 yards, one touchdown and an interception), made the necessary plays when needed and engineered what turned out to be the eventual game-winning drive to start the fourth quarter, which culminated in an Andre Brown 1-yard scoring plunge.
Brown wasn’t necessarily effective in gaining 35 yards on 14 carries, but he did add two touchdown runs.
What we learned ...
1. Tuck is back
The Giants’ pass rush awakened against a shoddy Washington offensive line, as they tallied five sacks. Defensive end Justin Tuck led the way with four sacks, while line mate Cullen Jenkins added one sack. It was Jenkins’s third sack in the last two weeks, as he was coming off a two-sack performance last week in the loss to the Cowboys. The reappearance of Tuck was the main story considering the long-time defensive leader and co-captain has had a down campaign. Tuck has six sacks on the season, while Jenkins has three.
2. Methodical Manning
Save for an errant Manning pass, the maligned quarterback was actually efficient in the passing game, deftly hitting receivers in stride and rarely forcing the ball in tight areas. Manning’s pick was the 18th of the season – a league-high mark – but his 78 completion percentage and decision-making was otherwise supreme. Manning made the necessary checkdown throws when Washington’s pass rush got too hot, while avoiding catastrophic mistakes.
3. O-sack-po sighting
Manning’s game wasn’t totally clean, however, and that was mostly through no fault of his own. His offensive linemen let him down at times – most notably left tackle Will Beatty. The fifth-year tackle, who signed a lucrative five-year contract extension during the offseason, let down his quarterback by allowing his blindside to get ravaged by Washington’s Brian Orakpo. The former Pro Bowl player registered two sacks, as Beatty was left on an island with Orakpo for most of the night.
Big Blue notes ...
Manning was very sharp in the first half, as he went 10-of-12 for 101 yards, one touchdown and no picks.
Washington broke their opening drive scoring schneid when Morris scored from one yard out for the early 7-0 lead. Prior to the plunge, Washington had not scored on their opening possession this season.
Manning was sacked on the Giants’ opening play.
Manning’s lone interception came in the third quarter and was the team’s league-leading 31st turnover. The giveaway allowed Big Blue to continue its ignominious stretch of being the only team to commit at least one turnover in every game.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter@TBone8.