Giants-Redskins: What we learned

David Elfin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LANDOVER, Md. -- Six games into the season, the New York Giants were winless.
Six games later, New York remains in the NFC East race.
The surging Giants earned their fifth win in six games and eliminated the defending NFC East champion Washington Redskins from playoff contention with a 24-17, come-from-behind victory Sunday night at FedEx Field.
The Giants (5-7) are just two games behind the co-division leaders, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles.
"At 0-6, it would've been easy for us to point fingers and say this ain't happening," said ninth-year defensive end Justin Tuck, one of six active Giants who played on Super Bowl championship teams following the 2007 and 2011 seasons. "That (we didn't) talks about the leadership (of) coach (Tom) Coughlin, the captains and all the veteran guys understanding that the tide was going to turn. We're almost accustomed to putting ourselves in bad situations and coming out of it."
On Sunday, the bad situation was a 14-0 deficit just 3:15 into the second quarter. Tuck, who had a career-high four sacks, and quarterback Eli Manning, who completed 22 of 28 passes for 235 yards with one touchdown pass and an interception, led the comeback.
"What I was most proud of was the way we hung in there," Coughlin said. "They had two scores right away. We knew they would play the no-huddle offense, it (was) just when, and they started the game in it. They had us running around a little bit. We did settle down and played much better after."
In contrast, the Redskins just keep fading. After completing 16 of 17 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown in the first half, Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was just 8-for-15 for 58 yards in the second half while being sacked five times.
"That's a tough one to lose," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, whose team suffered its fourth consecutive defeat and dropped to 3-9, tied for the worst record in the NFC. "You can't stop yourselves. We had some penalties (eight for 55 yards). We had some drooped balls. We had some missed assignments. You combine all those things and that's how you lose."
Trailing 17-14 late in the third quarter, the Giants got good field position after a botched Washington punt. Kyle Nelson bounced the punt snap to Sav Rocca, whose low kick was deflected, and New York took over at the Washington 46-yard line.
Manning passed to wide receiver Victor Cruz for 8 yards, to tight end Brandon Myers for 18 and to Cruz for 19. Running back Andre Brown scored on a 1-yard run, his second touchdown of the night, to put the visitors ahead 21-17 with 14:26 left.
Tuck, who came in with 2.5 sacks on the season, sacked Griffin twice more on the next series and added his fourth of the night on the series after that.
"Our secondary did a great job of mixing up coverages and getting (Griffin) some different looks where he had to hold the ball, and I was able to capitalize," Tuck said.
Josh Brown's 39-yard field goal with 2:32 to go rounded out the scoring.
Giants safety Will Hill wrestled the ball from Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon to end Washington's last chance.
"So frustrating to the point that I can't tell you," Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss said of his team's ugly season.
Griffin finished 24 of 32 for 207 yards and a touchdown. He also had 12 carries for 88 yards, team highs in both categories.
Cruz made six catches for 80 yards.

What the Giants said
"Weather the storm, stop the bleeding." -- Defensive end Justin Tuck, on how the Giants reacted when facing a quick 14-0 deficit.
"We had to calm down. We were all frantic out on the first drive. They were running no-huddle and we were slow getting the (defensive) calls in. But we ... went to the bench, talked it over, calmed each other down and just went out there and played ball." -- Safety Will Hill.

What the Redskins said
"We were jelling early on, putting points up, moved the ball really well and in the second half we just shot ourselves in the foot, got in some bad situations, weren't converting on third downs." -- QB Robert Griffin III, on why Washington scored 14 points during the first 18:15, just three points the rest of the way.
"We have a lot of problems, obviously." -- Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, on Washington's offense. The unit scored four touchdowns over the past three games.

What we learned about the Giants
1. As was the case in 2007 when they won the Super Bowl after an 0-2 start and in 2011 when they won a second championship after slipping to 7-7 in December, the Giants understand how to be resilient. If not for a 24-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week, New York would be riding a seven-game winning streak.
2. Justin Tuck isn't done as a pass-rusher. After producing just 2.5 sacks (with 10 hurries) during his first 12 games, the ninth-year defensive end stepped up in the absence of fellow pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul and recorded a career-high four sacks against the Redskins.

What we learned about the Redskins
1. Washington is in trouble when running back Alfred Morris can't get going. Morris ran for a career-low 26 yards on 11 carries Sunday night, and the Redskins dropped to 1-5 this year when he gains fewer than 90 yards.
2. The Redskins don't play well with a double-digit lead. They led 14-0 against the Giants but lost 24-17. That makes four of six games in which they led by at least 10 points; they lost three of those four and had to go to overtime to win the other.

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