By Paul Dottino
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Tom Coughlin called it a spark and asked his team to keep it going.
How about we call it a “must win,” one the Giants simply had to have to prevent their season from spinning out of control before the end of September.
The Giants’ 32-21 victory over the Washington Redskins on Thursday was much more than one digit in the win column. They can rid themselves of the emotional and mental baggage that would have come with an 0-3 start, and now will take two extra days off before the challenging task of heading to Buffalo a week from Sunday.
“I’m not saying our games were anything to write home about. But, in truth, we could have won two games coming into this one tonight and players need the reinforcement, the confidence that comes from pushing a thing through to a win,” Coughlin said. “I’m hoping that helps in the locker room.”
Offense – WR Rueben Randle:
He spoke about how he expected to be moved around in the formation, and it would help him get better chances to produce after two very quiet games. Randle answered the call with seven catches on seven targets for 116 yards, including a juggling 41-yard TD grab down the left sideline that made it 32-14 with 3:21 to play. It was the second time the Giants beat CB Bashaud Breeland in the fourth quarter. He also got outmuscled by Odell Beckham Jr. (7-79-1 on nine targets) at the end of a 30-yard post pattern for a touchdown and a 25-6 lead.
Defense – CB Prince Amukamara:
This was another easy choice, although the Giants had several defenders do well. Amukamara took responsibility and was upset after getting beat by Atlanta’s Julio Jones for a key bomb in the closing stages of the Week 2 loss, but the corner rebounded with a team-leading nine tackles. He also perfectly read an in-cut pass intended for Pierre Garcon against the blitz and intercepted Kirk Cousins at the Washington 30, ending its second possession and setting up the Giants for an Andre Williams 1-yard TD plunge and a 9-0 lead with 6:34 left in the first quarter.
Special Teams – RB Rashad Jennings:
Sure, he was held on the play, but Jennings was determined … determined to do whatever it took to help his team get off to a good start. And he forced his way around the left edge of the Washington line to block a Tress Way punt, which bounced through the end zone for a safety as the Giants grabbed a 2-0 lead at the end of the night’s first possession just 2:13 into the game.
As a side note, P Brad Wing punted four times (42.8 avg.) for a 40.3-yard net, which included a ball that was downed at the Redskins’ 1 with six seconds left in the first half. This punt forced the Redskins to risk handing off the ball rather than taking a knee on the final play of the second quarter, and the Giants went into the locker room with a 15-6 edge.
Offense – TE Larry Donnell:
We’re still not sure why he appeared to start a forward somersault as he was about to get hit on a reception at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but we’ll allow that to remain a mystery since it was of no consequence. However, Donnell dropped a third-down pass that hit him in the numbers and forced the Giants to settle for Josh Brown’s 48-yard FG and an 18-6 edge with 7:29 left in the third quarter.
They get a break this week. Their performance was far from perfect. In fact, Cousins missed several open receivers and his guys tossed in a couple of drops for him. Still, the Giants allowed just two field goals and led, 25-6, with less than four minutes to play. And the Giants forced the Redskins to rely heavily on Cousins — which Washington did not want to do — after limiting the Redskins’ vaunted running game to 49 first-half yards on 15 tries.
Special Teams – Kickoff Coverage Unit:
WR Rashad Ross had a 101-yard kickoff return up the right numbers for a touchdown to close the scoring with 3:08 to play. LB Jasper Brinkley, LB Mark Herzlich and S Craig Dahl each were blocked at the point of attack, and Brown took a bad angle that allowed Ross to cut outside and outrace CB Trumaine McBride to the end zone.