The last time the Redskins beat the Giants in Washington, they got touchdown passes from Mark Brunell, Patrick Ramsey and Clinton Portis.
On Sunday, they only needed Rex Grossman.
Grossman made Mike Shanahan look wise for choosing him over John Beck in the Redskins quarterback derby by throwing for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Grossman held up well when the Giants pressured him and mostly avoided the kind of crushing mistakes that have long been his NFL calling card. He did lose a fumble on one of Jason Pierre-Paul’s two sacks of the afternoon, but the Giants’ habit of shooting themselves in the foot rendered it moot.
The Giants couldn’t move the ball after Michael Boley recovered the fumble — former Giant Barry Cofield blew up a failed third down run by Ahmad Bradshaw — and then Brian Orakpo blocked Lawrence Tynes’ field goal attempt. It was the last in a series of brutal special teams blunders by the Giants, a clear sign that they didn’t bother to fix one of the problems that kept them out of the playoffs last season.
They also haven’t quite learned how to avoid the backbreaking turnover. Redskins rookie Ryan Kerrigan tipped an Eli Manning pass into the air, intercepted it and strolled into the end zone to break a 14-14 tie early in the third quarter. The game had been a closely matched affair to that point, but the Redskins rolled from that point forward and dominated the Giants in all three phases of the game. Grossman was impressive, as was tight end Fred Davis. Davis had five catches for 105 yards and looks like matchup nightmare for defenses to contend with in the weeks to come.
Some of those defenses will surely come better equipped than the Giants. With Justin Tuck out thanks to a neck injury, the Giants pretty much had Pierre-Paul and nothing else. Their secondary gave Redskins receivers huge cushions all day, including a fourth-and-five completion to Santana Moss that set up the second Redskins touchdown of the first half. That enabled Grossman to pick them apart even when there was some pressure in the pocket.
The Redskins defense, on the other hand, looked better than expected in their season debut. They were able to create a lot of pressure on Eli Manning and the Giants ground game never got in gear thanks to Cofield and others swarming the line of scrimmage. Chris Neild picked up two sacks and Rocky McIntosh turned in a solid effort at linebacker for the ‘Skins. It helped that the Giants offense looked out of sync for most of the day, but you have to give some of the credit for that to the energy of the Redskins defense as well.
In the end, the Redskins were a bit better than we expected in all phases of the game. The Giants, on the other hand, had all of the sloppiness of last year’s crew without any of the high spots that allowed them to win 10 games.