Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III passed for 163 yards and a touchdown and added 72 rushing yards as the Washington Redskins improved to 6-6 with a 17-16 win over the New York Giants on Monday night.
Making his "Monday Night Football" debut, Griffin was 13 of 21 for 163 yards and connected with Pierre Garcon for an 8-yard touchdown with 11:31 to play in the fourth quarter to give the Redskins the win. Griffin was also involved in the Redskins' first touchdown as his fumble following a 12-yard run late in the first quarter was alertly recovered by Josh Morgan, who ran the ball into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown.
Prior to Morgan's touchdown, the Giants had taken the early lead on a 39-yard field goal from Lawrence Tynes. After Morgan's touchdown, the Giants drove down to the Redskins' 30-yard line before an intentional grounding penalty on Eli Manning stalled the drive. Tynes had an opportunity to chip into the Redskins' lead, but his 43-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left as a rare poor snap from Zak DeOssie altered the timing of the attempt. After forcing a punt on the Redskins' possession following the missed field goal, the Giants went on a 13-play, 85-yard drive that was capped by Manning hitting a wide open Martellus Bennett in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown that gave the visitors a 10-7 lead with just over two minutes to play in the first half.
Griffin would quickly respond, hitting Garcon for gains of 18 and 35 yards, setting up a 33-yard field goal by Kai Forbath with 41 seconds remaining in the half. Not to be outdone, Manning hit Bennett for a 28-yard gain on a third-and-10 play from midfield that set up a 40-yard field goal from Tynes that gave the Giants a 13-10 lead as time expired in the first half.
Midway through the third quarter, the Redskins were poised to tie the game or take the lead, but a fumble by rookie running back Alfred Morris was recovered by linebacker Keith Rivers at the Giants' 9-yard line. Manning would lead the Giants on an eight-play, 75-yard drive that was highlighted by a 49-yard pass to Victor Cruz before the Giants once again settled for a mid-range field goal attempt by Tynes, which extended New York's lead to 16-10 with 3:14 to play in the third quarter.
Griffin and Morris would do the bulk of the work on the Redskins' next possession. Taking over at their own 14-yard line, a pair of Morris runs gained 26 yards before Griffin pushed the Redskins into Giants' territory with a 7-yard run around left end and a 9-yard pass to Josh Morgan. Fullback Darrel Young would plunge up the middle for 4 yards before a trio of runs by Morris reached the 22-yard line. Griffin hit Leonard Hankerson for 14 yards before finding Garcon in the end zone for what would be the game-winning touchdown. Washington's defense would force the Giants to punt on their following two possessions, and Griffin and Morris would run out the final 3 minutes, 51 seconds as a 6-yard run by Morris converted a key third-and-three with just over a minute to play.
While Griffin deserves and will get the headlines, Morris played a big role in Monday night's win. The sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic had 22 carries for a career-high 124 yards, giving him five 100-yard games on the season and 1,106 rushing yards through 12 games, tying him with Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round running back Doug Martin for third place in the NFL behind only Adrian Peterson (1,446) of the Minnesota Vikings and Marshawn Lynch (1,138) of the Seattle Seahawks. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, whose first season in Washington has been derailed by foot injuries, led all receivers with eight receptions and 106 receiving yards on Monday night.
For the Giants, Manning completed 20 of 33 attempts for 280 yards and a touchdown, while Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 103 yards, his first 100-yard rushing game since Oct. 14. Cruz, Bennett and Hakeem Nicks each had five receptions, with Cruz leading the Giants with 104 receiving yards.
With the Redskins joining the Dallas Cowboys at 6-6, and the Giants falling to 7-5, the NFC East will be a three-team race down the stretch. The Giants split with both clubs and only have one divisional game remaining on their schedule, a Dec. 30 home game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Washington beat Dallas on Thanksgiving, which currently makes the Redskins the No. 7 seed in the NFC playoff picture. The rematch between the Redskins and Cowboys is currently scheduled to take place at FedEx Field at 1 p.m. ET on Dec. 30, but that game could be "flexed" into prime time if it has playoff implications.
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