The Washington Redskins outscored and outlasted the New York Giants 20-14 on Sunday for their fifth victory of the season and first place in the NFC East. After an ugly loss to the Carolina Panthers last week, the Redskins were the underdog against the Giants, who were hoping to extend their division lead beyond one game. Instead, it was Washington who once again shone at home, scoring 17 unanswered points in the first half and keeping the G-men scoreless through three quarters for their fifth victory of the season.
“We’re just in the driver’s seat right now,” Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher said. “We’ve got to continue winning games and driving the car–right into the playoffs.”
While the Redskins may be on top of their division, they still have room for improvement. At 5-6, they have a losing record, and have yet to win away from home (0-5). They are also inconsistent, and have yet to win consecutive games this season. After a blowout victory against the Saints in Week 10, they were routed by Carolina the following Sunday.
Perhaps that is why the Giants didn’t give the Redskins much credit heading into the game.
“I think we were ready to play, but we probably took this team a little bit for granted because…I don’t know,” New York Receiver Dwayne Harris said. “I don’t know everyone else’s mindset but we came out slow. I think everyone was ready to play, but we came out too slow.”
While New York struggled to establish any sort of rhythm until the fourth quarter, the Redskins kept a good pace throughout. Quarterback Kirk Cousins went 20-of-29 for 302 yards and one touchdown. He also threw zero interceptions, which has been key to their victories thus far.
Contrarily, veteran QB and two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning struggled. He completed just 26 of 51 passes, including three interceptions. He was also unable to reach the end zone until the fourth quarter, when he connected with Rueben Randle for a New York touchdown.
Things got interesting in the middle of the fourth when Odell Beckham Jr. made a spectacular diving catch to cut the deficit to six. With a little under five minutes remaining, the Giants, who had been shutout most of the game, suddenly had a shot.
But the Redskins were able to stave off the Giants’ late-game rally and hold on to the lead. Though Washington and New York have the same record, the Redskins’ 2-1 division record currently puts them in the lead. Both the Cowboys (3-8) and Eagles (4-7) lost on Thanksgiving, making the NFC East currently a two-horse race.
Fittingly, Washington will attempt to nab their first consecutive win of the season against a familiar foe when they play the Cowboys on Monday Night Football. Lucky for them, the game is at FedEx, where they have a 5-1 record this season. If the Redskins can keep the momentum going with a second win, it seems possible they will win the division, despite their early season obstacles.
“Obviously, fired up to be in the position we’re in,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “Now, it’s just a matter of maintaining our focus and our work and just continue to take the one-game-at-a-time like I say cliche-wise. But I’m proud of the team to be in this position. How hard they’ve worked, how much they’ve overcome from a week-to-week basis. But overall, we have a lot of work to do, obviously, and we’re going to continue to get better and that’s our goal.”