EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — While the New York Giants had a lot more fun watching the game film after avoiding an 0-3 start, coach Tom Coughlin still has concerns about his team.
Once again, it’s the fourth quarter.
The Giants (1-2) built an early lead and posted a 32-21 win over the Washington Redskins on Thursday night. Unlike their last-minute losses to Dallas and Atlanta, the outcome was never in doubt.
However, the Giants once again struggled in the final 15 minutes. After falling behind 25-6, Washington ran 33 plays in the final 13:39 and outscored the Giants 15-7, including a 101-yard kickoff return by Rashad Ross.
New York had 12 plays in that span, including a 41-yard touchdown throw from Eli Manning to Rueben Randle.
“That’s not the way it’s supposed to be,” Coughlin said. “You’d like to think you can finish the game with the ball in your hands, and we would certainly like to erase the kickoff return against.”
Finishing has become a theme with the Giants this year. They blew 10-point second-half leads against the Cowboys and Falcons with fourth-quarter collapses.
Coughlin has no intention of playing it safe anymore. He wants to be able to run out the clock when he has the lead.
With the Giants ahead 32-21 at the two-minute warning and Washington having no timeouts, Coughlin elected to throw a third-down pass from his 44. It fell incomplete and the Redskins got the ball back with 1:43 to go.
Had the Giants used a running play, New York may have taken another 45 seconds off the clock.
“I’m just saying you want to end the game with the ball in your hands, you don’t want to keep putting your defense in a position where they have to make stop after stop when you know what’s coming,” Coughlin said. “People are opening up and just throwing the ball all over the place trying to get back in the game. So I mean, that’s just the way I feel about it. I normally would entertain any thought you might have about that, I do understand it’s a strategy call. But I don’t bat an eye about what we did last night and I would defend our actions to anybody.”
Middle linebacker Jon Beason had no problem with the call.
“You always want to be a team that’s known to finish strong,” Beason said. “I don’t want other opposing teams to think, ‘Hey, we’re playing the Giants. Whether they have a big lead or we keep it close, we know in the fourth quarter they’re going to give us this and that.’ You don’t want to be that. That’s something we have to put more emphasis on and we have to figure out what the issue is.”
Justin Pugh, who moved from left guard to left tackle with rookie Ereck Flowers out with an ankle injury, said there is no doubt the Giants squandered chances to win the first two games of the season.
“In this one, we made sure we had … a pretty big lead in the fourth quarter, so it’s something that we obviously have to finish better,” he said. “You can’t have a kickoff return and you have to end with the ball in our hands, so the offense has to pick up that first down, and that’s something that we’re going to continue to get better at and continue to work at.”
The positive for the Giants is their season is very much alive. Injury-plagued Dallas (2-0) leads the division and the Giants and Redskins are tied at 1-2. Philadelphia is 0-2 with a game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday against the Jets (2-0).
“To get the win was huge, knowing that we can, knowing that we are a good football team and we need to start thinking that,” said Beason, whose knee was sore after playing his first game of the season. “The way we are in the locker room, outside the doors, the way we carry ourselves in the community here, we’re a great football team and we have a chance to go far if we decide to do that.”
NOTES: Coughlin said WR Victor Cruz will run this weekend and may return to practice next week for the first time since training camp. … CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who missed Thursday’s game with a concussion, is improving and may be ready for Buffalo on Oct. 5.
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