The Fifth Quarter: New York Giants I
As big a victory as last week's upset in Philadelphia was for the Washington Redskins, the momentum from the win was more than negated by the New York Giants, who simply outplayed the Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday. This one, like any loss to a division rival at home, has an especially bitter taste, and it will last two weeks until the Redskins have their next opportunity to play when they face the Detroit Lions.
On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:
Whenever the Washington Redskins managed to sustain a drive beyond a few plays, the passing game looked good. Jason Campbell continues to improve in his vision and accuracy, although there were still a few overthrows. Campbell finished the game with 16 completions on 34 attempts, for 190 yards and a touchdown. Although he threw no interceptions, two balls were nearly picked off, and Campbell made some other mental errors: holding on to the ball for too long, not seeing an approaching blitz and adjusting, etc. He's still learning, but there has been marked improvement from week one.
Fortunately, Campbell and the receievers connected when it mattered, keeping drives going all the way to the end zone. Santana Moss' 49-yard reception helped set up their first touchdown of the game. Chris Cooley scored his second touchdown in as many weeks on a well-designed play that had Moss setting a semi-pick and Antwaan Randle El drawing coverage to the back of the end zone. Moss and Randle El combined for three receptions for 53 yards on the final drive of the game.
The Redskins' inability to generate a rushing game in the second half hurt the passing game more than anything else. Campbell faced three consecutive 3rd downs of seven, six, and five yards, and the failure to convert kept the Redskins' defense on the field and the offense on the bench. Although the Redskins passed their way to the 1-yard line on their final drive, seeing an effective offense earlier in the half would have saved them of the need to have come from behind to begin with.
Although the Redskins' rushing offense was not in full gear in the first half, with the team up by two touchdowns everything looked set for a grind'em down, run-out-the-clock second half. The opportunity never came, of course, as the Redskins faltered to three straight three-and-outs, and Clinton Portis fumbled a hand-off on the very next drive. The Redskins wouldn't rush the ball again until they handed it to Betts twice inside the Giants' 2-yard line as time expired.
Although the Redskins found some success rushing the ball in the first half, they could not execute on a single drive in the second half when it most mattered. The running game became one-dimensional, with Portis seeing the bulk of the carries and finishing the game with fourteen attempts for 60 yards and a touchdown. Ladell Betts was given the ball seven times but could only scrape out nine yards, and Mike Sellers was non-existent.
Two sets of statistics that sum up this game for the defense:
1) The Giants went two for seven on 3rd down conversions in the first half, but managed to convert seven of their nine third downs in the second half.
2) Some second half drives for the Giants:
- 10 plays, 5:10 minutes, touchdown
- 13 plays, 7:06 minutes, touchdown
- 6 plays, 1:53 minutes, touchdown
Total: 29 plays, 14:09 minutes, three touchdowns
The Redskins’ defense could not get off the field in the second half, after an admirable first half performance in which they registered one sack, two turnovers, and only allowed the Giants into Redskins territory on two occasions. They also held the Giants to a single field goal in total scoring.
The Giants, however, made some great offensive adjustments, and Eli Manning picked apart the secondary with ease in the third and fourth quarters. The Redskins stuffed two key Giants' drives late in the game, giving the offense an opportunity to tie the game, but it was too little, too late.
Derrick Frost and Shaun Suisham continue to have quiet but productive years (credit is also due to Ethan Albright, who hasn't had a bad snap in years and played well). Suisham hooked a 39-yard field goal at the end of the first Redskins' drive, his first miss of the season; but he also bounced right back and connected from 47-yards. Frost was called upon to punt seven times, and he often pinned the Giants inside of their own 20-yard line.
Rock Cartwright ran great kickoff returns, ending the day with five returns for an average of 28 yards per return, and thanks to his efforts the Redskins never had to worry about field position as they opened a drive. Randle El spent most of the afternoon making fair catches or short returns on punts, except for a late 4th quarter kick that he returned 27 yards to the Giants' 35-yard line, giving the Redskins excellent field position for the final drive that would ultimatley fail. Coverage on both punt and kickoff units was solid.
Aside from Suisham's missed kick, which probably wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game, the special teams did everything in their power to put the Redskins in a good position to win. It’s always a bad sign when the Special Teams unit has, by far, the most productive day for the entire team.
Before this season began, even optimistic fans would have seen a 2–1 record after three weeks as positive. However, after last week’s emotional win, and the Giants’ paltry start to this season, 3–0 looked like a reasonable outcome, and especially so after the first half. The Redskins will have a lot to address in the upcoming bye-week, and the pressure will be on when they travel to New York to face the Giants on December 16th.
This article was released on 2007-09-24.
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