LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — For all of their deficiencies and inconsistency, Jay Gruden’s Washington Redskins are right there at the top of the NFC East.
Kirk Cousins connected with DeSean Jackson for a 63-yard touchdown pass and scored on a fourth-down quarterback sneak, Washington intercepted Eli Manning three times, and the Redskins held on to beat the New York Giants 20-14 Sunday.
New York trailed 20-0 before making things interesting as Manning threw fourth-quarter TD passes of 40 yards to Rueben Randle and 21 yards to Odell Beckham Jr., who made a fantastic diving catch, corralling the ball with his left hand while parallel to the ground.
The Giants came into the day with a chance to create some space in the standings. Instead, they’re 5-6, just like the Redskins, with five games remaining. The Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) and Dallas Cowboys (3-8), both routed on Thanksgiving Day, are the other members of the mediocre division.
Setting the tone on a chilly, dreary day, New York’s first two possessions ended when passes by Manning went in and out of receivers’ hands and were picked off – first by linebacker Perry Riley Jr., then by cornerback Will Blackmon. And on the Giants’ first drive of the second half, Manning’s throw on third-and-goal at the 4 was intercepted in the end zone by rookie Quinton Dunbar, who switched from receiver to cornerback in training camp.
It was the 20th three-interception game of two-time Super Bowl MVP Manning’s career. He wound up 26 for 51 for 321 yards with the pair of late scores. Beckham had nine catches for 141 yards.
Cousins was 20 for 29 for 302 yards, including the long TD to Jackson – who taunted the Giants by strutting along the goal line before actually crossing it – and zero interceptions. When the fourth-year QB avoids getting picked off this season, Washington is 5-0; when he throws at least one interception, the team is 0-6.
The Redskins have been about as up-and-down as can be in Gruden’s second year. They are 5-1 at home, including five consecutive wins, and 0-5 on the road. They have not won two consecutive games. Entering Sunday, their previous two results were a 33-point victory, followed by a 28-point loss.
The Giants were coming off their bye and looked rusty, particularly on offense.
Manning had miscommunication issues with Beckham in the first quarter, and with Dwayne Harris in the second, resulting in throws that did not match the receivers’ routes.
It didn’t help matters that the Giants began the game without two injured starters along the offensive line, then lost a third in the first half when guard Geoff Schwartz left with a fractured lower leg.
New York’s first 10 drives culminated in three turnovers and seven punts. On the team’s 11th possession, Manning finally put some points on the board, hitting Randle. Then came Beckham’s highlight-reel grab.
But it was too little, too late.
Washington led 17-0 at halftime, thanks in part to Cousins’ 1-yard TD sneak with under 2 minutes to go that generated a full-throated chorus of “Hail to the Redskins!” As the teams headed to the locker rooms soon thereafter, fans gave a standing ovation, a rare salute to a club that has finished last in the NFC East in six of the past seven seasons.