December 5, 2010

Giants Go Ground, Win Big

Mike Shanahan’s first year with the Washington Redskins was supposed to be one of good will. However, he’s quickly wearing out his welcome with duds like today‘s loss against the New York Giants.

Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for 200 yards and four touchdowns as the Giants ran all over the Redskins last place defense en route to a 31-7 victory. Washington’s defense, missing LaRon Landry, Albert Haynesworth, and Carlos Rogers had no answer for a potent running game, which put the Giants up early and then iced it in the second half.

The Redskins meanwhile are fading fast in Shanahan’s maiden voyage with the team. Injuries left him without a workhorse running back and the offensive line was overmatched while trying to protect Donovan McNabb from a tenacious New York pass rush. Rookie Jason Pierre-Paul had a pair of sacks, and the team had four on the day, making life miserable for Washington.

The Giants wasted little time in getting the scoring started as Jacobs burst down the left side of the field for a 39-yard gain on the second play from scrimmage to set up his own 8-yard touchdown run four plays later. New York scored on their first two possessions, gaining 118 yards on them, building an early 14-0 lead that left the punchless Redskins with no chance of coming back.

The Redskins didn’t score in the first half while gaining just 135 yards in the first 30 minutes. Graham Gano missed a 43-yard field goal on their second possession with the Giants already up 14-0 and only a London Fletcher interception of Eli Manning in the red zone prevented the Giants from scoring on three of their first four drives.

Following the Fletcher interception, the offense began to unravel. McNabb had an erratic day missing receivers high and forcing throws into coverage. When he did connect with Anthony Armstrong in the second quarter to put the Redskins in Giants territory, the young receiver fumbled the ball away, resulting in Bradshaw’s second rushing touchdown to make it 21-0.

McNabb finished 26-44 for 296 yards and a 33-yard touchdown pass to Armstrong, ruining the Giants shutout bid late in the third quarter. McNabb also threw two interceptions and fumbled three times, losing one. Terrell Thomas’ interception in the fourth quarter marked McNabb’s 10th straight game with a pick.

Manning had a quiet day without Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks, but he didn’t have to be spectacular. New York rushed for 139 first half yards and built a 21-0 lead heading into the locker room. Manning 15-25 for 161 yards and an interception on a blustery day where the Giants clearly preferred to run the ball.

The Redskins would have been happy to get a ground game established as well, but after falling behind early, they were one-dimensional for much of the game. James Davis, seeing extensive action in just his second game with the Redskins, led the way with 40 yards rushing. Washington ran the ball a mere 16 times and amassed a paltry 74 yards on the ground.

The Giants were plagued by mental errors in the second half, committing penalties in bunches, but Washington failed to take advantage. New York had a short field after a McNabb fumble and Jacobs rumbled his way 28 yards for a score to extend the lead to 28-0.

After Armstrong got the Redskins on the board, Washington drove down the field again, but McNabb forced a throw to Santana Moss in the end zone, Thomas came away with the pick, and the embattled offense blew a prime scoring chance.

The Redskins as a team fumbled the ball six times, losing four of them. They turned the ball over six times, four of them coming in Giants territory. In addition to the takeaways, New York also blocked a punt. Ironically it was former Redskin draft pick Devin Thomas, signed by the Giants a few weeks ago, who was responsible for the block.

The Washington coaching staff had expressed disappointment in Thomas for not showing enough interest in the basics. They cut him despite his potential and the lack of depth at the receiver position. Thrust into a special teams role with New York, Thomas made the most of it against his former team, downing a punt inside the Redskins’ ten yard line and blocking the punt.

On the other sideline, Haynesworth was deactivated after showing up late to Friday’s practice with an illness. He joined Landry, Rogers, and Ryan Torain as several of the key pieces to miss the game. Missing today’s contest was yet another incident in the never-ending battle between Haynesworth and Shanahan who clearly have little fondness for each other.

With the loss, Washington falls to 5-7. They will now look to play out the season with an eye on the younger players looking to make an impact beyond 2010. The Giants improve to 8-4 tying them with the Eagles for first in the NFC East.

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