GIANTS ARE BACK IN THE HUNT AFTER WIN OVER THE STRUGGLING REDSKINS
EAST RUTHERFORD: The New York Giants were fortunate last week to defeat The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It would a lot to ask to stage another comeback from 18 points down and bank that your opponent misses an easy field goal to clinch your win.
Could the Giants overcome the loss of two of more captains to first-half injuries like they did with running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring)?
Could Big Blue overcome brilliant performances like Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston passing for 380 yards and wide receiver Mike Evans hauling in eight catches for 190 yards and three touchdowns?
No worries because this week the Washington Redskins were in town, so no miracles needed.
The Giants made a lot of mistakes but not enough to keep them from dominating the visitors 24-3, raising their overall record to 2-2.
Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones threw two interceptions. The Giants fumbled four times, lost two of them. The offense scored just 17 points against one of the worst teams in the NFL.
But Big Blue won and after the Dallas Cowboys loss to the New Orleans Saints Sunday night, is just one game out of first place in the NFC East.
“You take wins in this league how they come,” offensive guard Kevin Zeitler said at his locker after the game. "Whether you play well, don’t play well, if you get a win you take it. We learn from it and move on. You don’t have time to think about it, you’re already out in Minnesota, just like that.”
In his second start, quarterback Jones completed 23 of 31 passes for 225 yards, one touchdown and those two interceptions, both by cornerback Quinton Dunbar.
Wayne Gallman, substituting for Barkley, led all rushers with 63 yards on a career-high 18 carries, and scored touchdowns on a six-yard reception and a one-yard run on the Giants’ first two offensive possessions to give the Giants what proved to be an insurmountable 14-0 lead.
“The whole focus was to come out fast,” Gallman said. “You know we don’t want to come out hot in the second half. We want to come out hot in the first half, so the focus was just getting that first drive going and we did. We got it done.”
“Wayne had a great game,” Jones said. “We had a lot of confidence in him, and I think he’s a really good player. I don’t think anyone was surprised by how he played. But certainly, he was a huge piece of this win today.”
Zeitler said you take the good with the bad when it comes to rookie quarterbacks.
“It’s his second game on the NFL,” Zeitler said. “He’s done some good things. He’s led us down the field a couple of times. There’s some mistakes there here and there too. He keeps learning, he keeps throwing. He doesn’t let anything bug him. He just goes on to the next play. That’s really what you want.”
The offensive line is the mainstay of the Giants offense. Big Blue rushed for 164 yards as a team and did not give up a sack.
“When stuff like that comes out after games, it’s good,” Zeitler said. “The Redskins are very talented, there’s no doubt. They have some depth on their d-line. It’s going to be a tough re-match when we get back.”
The Giants defense scored the third touchdown of the day, on a 32-yard interception return by safety Jabrill Peppers.
The Giants defense intercepted Washington quarterbacks Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins four times on the day and came up with three sacks. The combined quarterback rating for the Redskins signal callers was 28.6.
The Redskins rushed for just 55 yards as a team on 17 carries.
“It felt good, we had a great week of preparation, I watched extensive film because I wanted to take the challenge of guarding tight end Vernon Davis real personal,” Peppers said. “I recognized the set, I knew they liked the over routes out of that formation. I trusted my gut, slipped underneath it, he tried to get it out, I switched my arm and saw nothing but daylight in front of me, it had to be six.”
The defense had plenty of other key contributors. Rookie linebacker Ryan Connelly intercepted his second pass in as many weeks on the game’s opening series and registered his first career sack when he tackled Keenum for a two-yard loss on Washington’s next possession.
But he suffered a potentially serious knee injury in the second half. The Giants now face the dreaded two-games-in-one-week schedule starting Sunday against Minnesota at MetLife, then the New England Patriots in Foxboro on Thursday Night Football.
“It’s the NFL,” Zeitler said. “There’s always going to be a challenge, there’s always going to be great players across from you, simple truth. It doesn’t matter. We have to handle what need to do and we’ll see where the cards are at the end of the day.” *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii