By Curt Macysyn
Realistically, there is no better match-up for the New York Giants to break a losing streak than to face off against the Washington Redskins. Last year, with almost the same dynamics in place, the Giants disposed of the Redskins to get into the win column. This year, after two close losses to Dallas and Atlanta leaving a bad taste in their mouths, the Giants dispatched the visitors from the nation’s capital with a methodical performance in a 32-21 victory at the Meadowlands.
Offense: Letter B+
When quarterback Eli Manning plays error free, and Odell Beckham, Jr. gets his requisite number of targets, typically the Giants will put points on the score board. Manning completed 23 of 32 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns on the evening, while Beckham caught seven passes in eight targets for 79 yards and a leaping touchdown. Offensively, when Rueben Randle gets involved, the G-men become tough to handle. With the absence of Victor Cruz once again, and the departure of Preston Parker, Randle became a focal point in the passing game. The result was seven catches on seven target for 116 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The running game was not as effective as the passing attack, with only 62 yards in 19 attempts (3.3 yards per carry). Rashad Jennings had 32 yards on 11 rushes, and Shane Vereen had six rushes for 23 yards. Andre Williams had a two-yard touchdown run to kick off the offensive scoring in the first quarter. The offense kept Manning clean with zero sacks on the evening, and the offense did not turn the ball over either.
The defense played well enough for the G-men to win, and the effort was high energy. But there are just enough holes in the defense to make the average fan queasy down the stretch. Some of the Redskins’ statistics were accumulated in garbage time, so we can take Kirk Cousins’ 316 yards passing with a grain of salt. When it counted in the first quarter, Prince Amukamara jumped a route and intercepted a Cousins pass that put the Giants in business deep in ‘Skins territory that led to Andre Williams’ two-yard touchdown.
Linebacker Uani Unga had an interception on a deflection, and cornerback Trevin Wade forced Matt Jones’ goal line fumble, which may have been the key play of the game. With wide receiver DeSean Jackson out of the game with an injured hamstring, the Redskins were going to need a stellar rushing attack, but they did not get one. Instead, Matt Jones and Alfred Morris rushed for 57 yards combined, which was not nearly good enough to get a win on the road.
Special Teams: C+
Josh Brown may be the most consistent kicker in the NFL today. Brown was perfect on three field goal attempts and three extra points, with a long kick of 48 yards. Punter Brad Wing continues to impress with his command of what the Giants want to do in the punting game. Wing averaged 42.8 yards on four kicks, with two punts downed inside in the 20-yard line. The kick return team played butter fingers on a couple of onsides kicks, and the kickoff coverage team gave up a 101 yard touchdown return to Rashad Ross in a frantic fourth quarter.
Regardless of what has been written, head coach Tom Coughlin continues to get his squad to play hard, even as the team has had to adjust to key injuries. Defensively, Steve Spagnuolo put his troops in a position to be successful by shutting down the Redskins’ running attack, and requiring Kirk Cousins to beat Big Blue. Cousins’ two interceptions were keys to the game, as well as Trevin Wade’s last second strip of Matt Jones along the goal line.
Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo had a nice balance between the run game and passing attack. He also appeared to make Rueben Randle a focus of the passing attack, and with the imminent return of Victor Cruz, McAdoo will have another weapon at his disposal. In an even match-up, Coughlin still can get the job done.
With the Thursday night victory under their belts, the Giants now will get a short respite before they turn their attention to the Buffalo Bills, who they meet in Buffalo on Oct. 4. The Giants now have a 98-64-4 against the Redskins, which is the most wins versus any franchise.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.