Turnovers Costly As Redskins Fall To Giants Despite Late Comeback
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It didn’t matter that the Washington Redskins had just squandered a three-point lead with roughly a minute and a half remaining. Robert Griffin III had the ball, giving the rookie quarterback enough confidence that his offense could mount another comeback drive.
“When the game is on the line and the ball’s in your hands, you believe that you can do it,” Griffin said. “There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that we’d go win that game.”
The Redskins had just driven 77 yards over seven plays for a touchdown – and did so with relative ease. But Santana Moss, who again emerged as Washington’s go-to receiver down the stretch, fumbled the ball away with 40 seconds remaining, allowing the New York Giants to hold on for a 27-23 victory at MetLife Stadium.
New York (5-2) retained its hold on the NFC East with the victory, while Griffin and the Redskins (3-4) lost their first foray into division play.
The quarterback went 20-for-28 for 258 yards with two touchdown passes – both to Moss – and only his third interception of the season. He also ran nine times for 89 yards, while rookie Alfred Morris had a season-high 120 rushing yards.
Eli Manning, whose reputation for fourth-quarter comebacks precedes him, went 26-for-40 for 337 yards. But 77 of those came on a touchdown pass to Victor Cruz with 1:13 left to play – not more than 20 seconds after Moss caught the second of his two touchdown passes to give the Redskins the lead.
“That was a huge play,” Manning said. “Then our defense did a great job of getting turnovers all day and some key stops, so it was a big win today.”
Washington turned the ball over four times, all in the second half, and ended three consecutive drives with a turnover. It was uncharacteristic for the offense, which entered the game having given the ball away only five times in the previous six games.
But the offense, which has been able to pick up yards and generate points, stayed true to form. Griffin kept a drive alive by scrambling out of a collapsed pocket on fourth-and-10 with 2:07 remaining before evading a near-sack by Jason Pierre-Paul and finding Logan Paulsen for a 19-yard completion.
That put the Redskins in position to complete the drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Moss – a beautifully thrown, well-placed lob by Griffin under pressure that hit his receiver over the shoulder in single coverage just in front of the goal line.
The Giants then responded two plays later when Manning connected with Cruz to reclaim the lead, giving Washington enough time to mount yet another comeback.
Moss helped the Redskins move near midfield with an 11-yard grab on second down, but Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn was able to jar the ball loose shortly after Moss made the catch.
“It’s wild, man,” said Moss, whose pair of receptions moved him amongst a group of only 70 players to have 60 career touchdown catches. “It’s just part of the game. Honestly, I don’t feel well about fumbling. I felt great about the touchdown, but any chance you get to make a difference, you try to make a difference.”
The score was tied at 13-13 entering the fourth quarter, with Moss scoring on a 26-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and Kai Forbath making two field goals to answer Andre Brown’s 1-yard touchdown run and Lawrence Tynes’ pair of field goals.
Ahmad Bradshaw ran one yard for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter before Forbath made another field goal, his fifth in five tries since joining the team.
Paulsen had four catches for a team-high 76 yards, working for most of the game in place of Fred Davis. The tight end, the Redskins’ leading receiver entering the game, tore the Achilles’ tendon in his left leg in the first quarter and will miss the rest of the season, according to head coach Mike Shanahan.
Leonard Hankerson had a team-high six catches for 70 yards, while Cruz had 131 yards on seven receptions for the Giants. Washington held New York, which entered the game averaging 125 rushing yards, to just 64 on the ground.
What it couldn’t do, though, was keep the opponent out of the end zone late, which is all that mattered.
“Once they scored, I was ready to go back out there and lead another touchdown drive for us to win the game,” Griffin said. “That’s just the kind of mindset you have to have. You can’t be shocked or awed by what happens on the field. It’s football, and the ball can bounce different ways on every single play.”