The Giants received very little rest this week, but they certainly didn’t show it in a convincing 45-14 win over the Redskins.
Despite a short week of preparation — and only one true day of practice before traveling to D.C. on Wednesday — Big Blue came out like the fresher team from the start and never looked back at their NFC East rival.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning continued his mastery of the West Coast offense by dissecting a Washington (1-3) defense that came into the game amongst the league’s upper echelon in fewest yards allowed.
Manning’s counterpart, Kirk Cousins, had a rough night as he went 19-of-33 for 257 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. Cousins was the talk of the league coming into this contest after scorching opposing defenses in relief of the injured Robert Griffin III, but the Giants (2-2) seemed to know everything Cousins would do before he even broke the huddle.
What we learned …
1. Turn it up
Big Blue’s defense had been dogged for their lack of takeaways at the onset of the season, but have turned it around of late. Their assault on Cousins is their pinnacle so far this season as they registered five takeaways. Washington got off to a shaky start when defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka forced a fumble on the home team’s first offensive series. The veteran defensive end sacked Cousins at the Washington 24-yard line and the ball was recovered by defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. The takeaway set up tight end Larry Donnell’s 4-yard touchdown reception, as the Giants began their wire-to-wire jaunt. Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride, Antrel Rolle and Quintin Demps all had interceptions, with Demps’s pick serving as the microcosm for Washington’s suffering. Demps, who started in place of former Pro Bowler Stevie Brown picked off Cousins late in the third quarter to squelch any momentum Washington could’ve gotten after the defense picked off Manning at the goal line. Demps’s theft set up another Giants touchdown, giving them a 31-14 lead, and effectively ending the game.
2. Feeling tight
Donnell’s star shone bright, too, as the unknown tight end might’ve finally made a name for himself after this prime time performance. Donnell, who came into this season with a meager three receptions, continued his stellar play by notching seven catches for 54 yards and three touchdowns. All three scores came in the first half. Donnell abused Washington’s linebackers and safeties, as he was covered man-to-man all game. It was a game plan the defense decided to try and execute because wideouts Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle seemingly had a second defensive back bracket them for most of the game. Donnell made them pay for the slight in having a career game.
3. Executed to perfection
The man responsible for getting Donnell in favorable matchups had a coming-out game in the new West Coast offense. Manning went 28-of-39 for 300 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He even added a rushing touchdown for good measure. Manning finally looked like the model of consistency new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo envisioned, as he deftly executed the offense. Perhaps his shining moment of the game came when he executed a scoring drive right before the half. Manning marched the Giants into field goal range as Josh Brown knocked in a 29-yard field goal at the break. The field goal was aided by a pass down the sideline to Cruz for a 29-yard gain to the Washington 12-yard line with just one second remaining, giving New York a 24-7 lead at the half.
Big Blue notes …
»New York scored on 4-of-6 first half possessions.
»Donnell’s second touchdown of his career came late in the first quarter and it was the team’s first first-quarter touchdown in its last 10 games.
»Manning had three touchdown passes in the first half alone, which were the most since Week 1 in the season opener in Dallas last season. Manning was so hot that at one point he connected on 11-straight passes and 12-of-13.
»New York’s secondary was locked in as they stymied the vaunted Washington aerial attack. Wideouts Pierre Garcon (two catches for 28 yards) and DeSean Jackson (one catch for nine yards) never got on track. In fact, Garcon didn’t even get his first reception until the two-minute warning of the first half, while Jackson didn’t fare any better, as he was shutout in the second half.
»No linebacker Jon Beason, no cornerback Walter Thurmond, no problem, as their replacements, Jameel McClain and Trumaine McBride, combined for a pivotal play in the first half when they stripped tight end Logan Paulson at the Giants’ 18-yard line with 1:16 remaining in the first half. It stifled a Washington scoring drive that could’ve cut the deficit to at least two scores
»New York had 31 points off their five takeaways. It was the first time in 11 years that Washington had five or more giveaways at a home game.
»Manning scampered one yard untouched for the score. It was his first rushing touchdown in his last 51 games. Coincidentally, it was against Washington on Sept. 11, 2011.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.