It was never going to be easy. The New York Giants’ defense knew it. They knew it when the linebacker Keegan Robinson stood during a meeting Friday morning to remind his teammates that the winless Washington Redskins were especially dangerous.
“It’s like a trap game,” Robinson told them. “This team is desperate.”
But with an opportunity to bury their rivals deeper in the NFC East division, at home on a crisp and sunny afternoon, the Giants’ defense did not heed its own warnings, falling 29-27 at MetLife Stadium.
An emotional and entertaining back-and-forth game ended, essentially, on an interception by the Redskins’ safety Su’a Cravens at the Giants’ 43-yard line as they began a comeback drive in the final two minutes. Washington’s defense picked off Eli Manning twice in the fourth quarter.
The Redskins took risks, most notably on fourth-and-12 late in the third quarter when the punter, Tress Way, lobbed a pass instead of a kick down the sideline and connected with Quincy Dunbar for a 31-yard gain.
That play, which ultimately yielded a field goal, nonetheless illustrated Washington’s aggressive offense. When the Giants scored on a 75-yard drive in the second quarter to take a 21-9 lead, the Redskins fired right back, in two plays, both deep passes to DeSean Jackson, bang, bang. 21-16. It was that kind of day.
Throughout a spirited, chippy contest, it seemed as though any play could spark a melee.
The animus between the Redskins’ cornerback Josh Norman and Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., which boiled over last season, simmered more quietly Sunday. But though their rematch never amounted to much, Giants’ center Weston Richburg was ejected in the fourth quarter for his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which he received when taunting Norman.
The Giants took early advantage of a sloppy first half from Washington, beginning on the opening possession when the punt returner, Quincy Dunbar, dropped the catch and the Giants recovered on the Redskins’ 28-yard line. Three plays later, running back Shane Vereen scored from a yard out to put the Giants on the board.
There were mental miscues by Washington, too. With only six seconds before halftime, the Redskins faced third down with four yards to go for the end zone, but they still had one timeout. Quarterback Kirk Cousins rolled to his left to find space for a quick throw.
He did not see defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul until it was too late, and the 278-pound end was already upon him. His hit jarred the ball loose from Cousins’ grasp, and though Cousins collected the fumble quickly, time expired on the clock before he was able to signal to the referees to stop the clock. The Redskins pleaded with the officials while the
Giants skipped off to the locker room, celebrating what seemed like a turning point.
But the defense, which had largely carried the Giants to its first two victories, was a different story. Cousins (296 yards, two touchdowns) needed a big game, and he delivered against a Giants secondary that was reminiscent of its sieve-like 2015 performance.
Washington 6 10 7 6 — 29
N.Y. Giants 14 7 3 3 — 27
NYG—Vereen 1 yard rush (Js.Brown kick), 12:18.
WAS—Du.Hopkins 49 yard field goal, 9:40.
NYG—S.Shepard 23 yard pass from Manning (Js.Brown kick), 6:10.
WAS—Du.Hopkins 33 yard field goal, 0:30.
WAS—Du.Hopkins 45 yard field goal, 8:39.
NYG—Darkwa 2 yard rush (Js.Brown kick), 4:12.
WAS—De.Jackson 44 yard pass from Cousins (Du.Hopkins kick), 3:40.
WAS—Crowder 55 yard pass from Cousins (Du.Hopkins kick), 9:45.
NYG—Js.Brown 29 yard field goal, 6:33.
WAS—Du.Hopkins 25 yard field goal, 15:00.
NYG—Js.Brown 30 yard field goal, 7:59.
WAS—Du.Hopkins 37 yard field goal, 1:55.
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