By Paul Dottino
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Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III is not only as good as advertised, but he’s got a chance to be real scary over the next several years. So said the Giants after they escaped with a 27-23 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Strong arm? Check. Accurate? Check. Mobile and fast? Check.
But here’s an additional observation that makes him even more dangerous — the guy is a magician with ball fakes. Does he have it or does he not? He hides the ball so well on play-action passes, options and gadget plays that it’s easy to get confused. Several times in the game, the ball carrier — RG3 or one of his teammates — was already almost 10 yards downfield before the Giants’ defense could identify the guy with the ball. That left most defenders chasing from behind and only a couple of tacklers in front of the play to prevent a huge gain.
Ok, so let’s get to our review:
Offense – WR Victor Cruz: I know all about Eli Manning’s 24th career fourth-quarter/OT comeback, but more on him later. Count it up — seven catches for 131 yards, including a 77-yard TD on a post that won the game with 1:13 left. For most of the day, the Redskins were playing a safety deep over the top. Not this time. It was man coverage on the outside with the safeties playing Cover 2. That’s not deep enough to guard against the deceptively fast Cruz on a bomb. CB Josh Wilson had no chance. You don’t think Washington coach Mike Shanahan is going to let this happen in a key spot during the rematch, do you?
Defense – DT Linval Joseph: His critics will point to the fact that he doesn’t get a ton of sacks or stack up gaudy tackle numbers. Okay, so he had three tackles in this game, but he also had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Midway through the third quarter, he jarred the ball free from RB Alfred Morris at the Giants’ 39 (although Manning threw an interception on the ensuing possession) with the score tied at 13. Midway into the fourth, Joseph recovered an RG3 fumble — caused by Jason Pierre-Paul — at the Giants’ 29 to preserve a 20-13 lead.
Special teams – K Lawrence Tynes: He was able to get five touchbacks on six kickoffs, highlighted by a bomb after the Giants took the lead on the Cruz catch.
Offense – QB Eli Manning: He has raised the bar too high at this stage of his career to excuse the poorly-thrown passes he unloaded for two second-half interceptions. Late in the third, he went too high for TE Martellus Bennett, and Wilson picked it off at the Redskins’ 9 with the scored tied at 13. Midway into the fourth, Joseph recovered a fumble and Manning missed WR Hakeem Nicks on the left, allowing LB Rob Jackson to intercept the ball.
Defense – CB Jayron Hosley: We’re going to let the rookie only run one gasser because he rebounded from his gaffe to recover a Santana Moss fumble with 39 seconds left at the Redskins’ 43. And it was good for Hosley that he quickly forgot about how Moss beat him in man coverage on a 30-yard TD pass down the left side with 1:32 to play for a 23-20 lead.
Special teams – None: The Redskins accumulated a total of 30 return yards off three punts (one downed) and six kickoffs (five touchbacks).
Who gets your game balls — and who are you gassers — from Sunday’s win over the Redskins? Let us know in the comments section below…