Somebody should have told the New York Giants and Washington Redskins that they should go light on the Thanksgiving fare so they’d have enough energy to put on a big, prime time show. Unfortunately, whoever that “somebody” is forgot to make that announcement, and fans who tuned in for the entire game stuck around for a slowly developing, often sloppy contest that resulted in a win for Washington in their first Thanksgiving home game.
The vast majority of tonight’s drives ended in punts, and the first quarter did nothing to stifle the development of that pattern. Between the two teams, the offensive units managed just four first downs in the opening 15 minutes, and both teams failed to find any sort of momentum. Defensively speaking, consummate NFL pro Ryan Kerrigan led efforts to prevent quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense from getting anywhere. Offensively, the Redskins had a few bright spots, including a fancy one-handed catch by Jamison Crowder to pick up the Redskins’ first first down of the night; their offensive and special teams units also showed flashes of the sloppiness that would be a trademark of tonight’s game, however, like Josh Doctson’s lack of awareness as he stepped out of bounds after 13 yards when he needed 14 for the first down and new addition Pete Robertson running into the end zone after downing a punt, giving the Giants a touchback.
As the game moved into the second quarter, the Giants began to dominate the game. They marched down the field, taking almost nine minutes off the clock on a 16 play, 60 yard drive that ended with the first points of the game, a field goal, leaving just four minutes left in the half. On the Redskins’ next drive, tonight’s offensive MVP, Crowder, broke open in the middle of the field, picking up 38 yards, but the team had to settle for a punt. Crowder, it’s worth noting, joined teammate Samaje Perine in totaling 100+ yards tonight (Crowder had 141 and Perine had 100), and he also had his first touchdown of the season. Kirk Cousins and his offensive teammates managed to take advantage of the defense’s ensuing quick stop and good time out management by the coaching staff, returning to the field to tie the game in the final minutes of the half. On that drive, Josh Doctson’s efforts to get open on a breakaway down the left side of the field paid dividends; while he didn’t catch the ball, the pass interference penalty he drew put Washington into field goal range.
The Redskins started the second half with the ball, but, true to form from the first 30 minutes of the contest, they ended their drive with a punt. However, a short, careless drive by the Giants followed, and Washington had their best chance of the evening when they took over at the 50. Cousins and the offense took made the most of this shot to piece together their best series in the game so far, overcoming two false start penalties to march the full 50 yards toward the end zone and put up seven points. Crowder showed up big twice on that drive, picking up 33 yards on one play and scoring the touchdown on another. Unfortunately, the Redskins’ roller coaster went downhill for their next three series, and the Redskins wound down the quarter with Janoris Jenkins’ pick six of Cousins, bringing the two teams to an even score.
The final downhill moment, the third of the rough three series in a row, was the strangest and most mind boggling one of the night. The Redskins, as expected, sent out their punt team on a 4th and 1, but they then called a timeout and sent their offense back onto the field. Moments later, Cousins failed to get his unit out of the huddle and lined up quickly enough, and his attempts to call another timeout (which he couldn’t do) led to a delay of game penalty and the return of the punt team. Shortly after that embarrassing kerfuffle, though, the team managed to pull together their most complete efforts of the night. The defense limited the Giants to one yard on their next drive, and then Cousins lead the offense on an 8 play, 60 yard drive to put seven more points on the board as he extended the play and found Doctson for a 14 yard score. The defense forced a fumble to end New York’s next drive, and Washington extended their lead by three more points with a Nick Rose Field goal. Finally, the defense complimented the offense’s efforts with a play fans have seen several times this season: an interception by a young defensive player to seal the game. With just over a minute on the clock, Kendall Fuller picked off Eli Manning’s pass, allowing Cousins and the offense to close out the game and seal the win against their NFC East opponent.
The Redskins will have a full week to rest up and, hopefully, heal their battered and bruised bodies before their next competition, another Thursday night NFC East game. They’ll face off against their rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, who also have a 5-6 record and hang on the edge of the playoff hunt.
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