Giants coach Tom Coughlin said this week that “it’s a lot of fun” coaching a team that’s in first place.
Coughlin’s team is still in first place after Sunday’s game, but they have company and we’re guessing he’ll be having a lot less fun when the question comes up this week. The Redskins jumped out to a 20-0 lead and held on after two late Giants touchdowns for a 20-14 win that pulls them even with the Giants at 5-6.
If the season ended today, Washington would win the crown based on a better division record. They have two games left against the Cowboys and one against the Eagles, however, and the Giants still have a chance to even their record at 3-3 when they face the Eagles in Week 17.
There’s a lot of football to play between now and then, but the Redskins know they are going to the playoffs if they win their remaining games.
The Giants could have said the same coming into the game, but they continue to make it hard to know what to expect from them on any given Sunday. Two weeks after nearly beating the Patriots, they laid a complete egg for three quarters of the game as the home team did just enough to pull ahead by three scores. Eli Manning finally found some success in the fourth with touchdown passes to Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham, but Steve Spagnuolo’s defense couldn’t stop Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris from getting first downs that left the Giants with a few seconds and no timeouts for a last-ditch attempt at pulling out the win.
That effort wasn’t helped by punt returner Dwayne Harris’s decision to field a Redskins punt over his shoulder on his goal-line, costing the team yards to use in their attempt to pull off a miracle. There were other blunders by the Giants, who turned the ball over on three interceptions that could be blamed on both Manning and his receivers. The last came in the end zone on what looked like an underwhelming effort by Randle to break on a ball picked off by Quinton Dunbar.
Kirk Cousins wasn’t picked off at all and finished the day 20-of-29 for 302 yards and a touchdown to help his team rebound from last week’s licking against the Panthers. He had a lot of success throwing to Reed, whose eight catches for 98 yards included several drive-extenders, and played the mistake-free football that Washington needs from him. He’ll try for another round of it next Monday night against a Cowboys team that will be coming to town fresh off the latest Tony Romo injury. It’s a game Washington should win, although they haven’t proven to be much any more consistent than the Giants this season.
Ryan Kerrigan spearheaded the defensive effort with two sacks and a batted ball that almost turned into a fourth Manning interception. The Giants will need to sort things out on an offensive line that ended the day down three starters in time for their MetLife bragging rights game against the Jets next Sunday. If they can’t Week 13 might end with them out of first place altogether.