Eli Manning continues to be the measuring stick for clutch quarterbacks, and for the first time in three meetings the Redskins got to see it firsthand, as the defending Super Bowl champs pulled out a last-second 27-23 win.
Manning again came through when his team needed him most as the Giants (5-2) averted a near-collapse to the burgeoning Redskins (3-4), when he connected with wideout Victor Cruz for a game-winning 77-yard touchdown with just over 90 seconds remaining in the game. The play capped off a two-play, 19-second drive and countered what was almost rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III’s shining moment when he led the Redskins on an improbable scoring drive himself, in the previous drive.
Griffin found wideout Santana Moss for 30 yards on a beautiful arcing touchdown in the left seam, with 1:32 remaining. The score capped a seven-play, 77-yard drive that lasted just 1:27 to give the Redskins the 23-20 lead.
But it was for naught, as Manning once again worked his late-game magic in leading the Giants to its first divisional win.
This was essentially a must-win game for the Giants, as they could’ve ill-afforded to start 0-3 in their division. Big Blue’s defense, save for Washington’s penultimate drive, did all it could to corral Griffin and slow down a Redskins offense that was amongst the leaders in points scored. Griffin finished 20-of-28 for 258 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and also had 89 rushing yards. His excellence was balanced by rookie running back Alfred Morris, who tallied 120 rushing yards. But in the end, the Redskins were their own worst enemies by allowing Cruz to break free for the game-winner, and for fumbling away a chance for their own game-winning drive when Moss lost the football and the Giants recovered near midfield with under a minute left.
The Giants played exceptionally well when it mattered most, and that was largely thanks to their star players rising up when needed most. Cruz led all receivers with seven receptions for 131 yards and the touchdown. Defensively, Big Blue was led by a sacks from its own “Big 3” of defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. Pierre-Paul also caused a fumble by Griffin.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.