When the Redskins beat the Giants in Week 1, the result was a share of first place in the division. The team was healthy, the rookies were contributing in a limited role, and there was a lot of reason for what-if speculation.
When the rematch occurred three months later, the Redskins were eliminated from playoff contention and playing for respect–something that no one wanted to give to them. Of the starting 11 on offense from Week 1, only five took the field on the starting drive. Those rookies that had contributed sparingly in round one were now starters, and some of the third string and practice squad players were seeing quality minutes.
In the end, the difference yesterday was not in the players’ resolve, or the preparation and game plan of the team. The difference was actually in the results.
In the hostile environment of a division-leading team, the Redskins played their best all-around football game of the season, jumping out to a 17-0 lead and never looking back.
The offense registered the team’s largest lead of the season at 20 points, when the score was 23-3. They were able to run the ball when they wanted to, throw the ball when they needed to, and control the clock for 35 minutes, nearly two and one-half minutes longer than Week 1.
On defense, they held Eli Manning without a completion in the first quarter for the first time in his career. He was intercepted three times by the Redskins for the first time in 15 career games.
Given the length of time between the two games this season, the Giants are the ideal measuring stick for the Redskins’ progress. As nose tackle Barry Cofield told his teammates after the game, that is the way that this team is capable of playing every week.
With two games left, the Redskins need to prove that to themselves, and find ways to win in the last two weeks of the season. At 2-12, the Vikings represent the first team that the Redskins have played with an inferior record since the Miami Dolphins in Week 10. With three weeks left in the 2011 season, it’s not too late for statements, and it’s the perfect time to put together a winning streak.
Here are the statistical highlights from yesterday’s win:
As a team:
- The win was the Redskins’ first against the Giants at New York since Week 15 of the 2007 season.
- The Redskins swept the season series from the Giants for the first time since 1999. The Redskins defeated the Giants, 28-14, in Week 1.
- The last time the Redskins had three different players register an interception in a single game was on this day six years ago on Dec. 18, 2005, when Marcus Washington, Cornelius Griffin and Dimitri Patterson all had interceptions in a Week 15 win vs. Dallas.
- Defensive end Stephen Bowen recorded his sixth sack of the season, dropping Manning on third down in the third quarter, improving upon his single-season career high.
- Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan recorded a fourth-quarter sack, giving him a team-leading 7.5 sacks for his rookie season.
- Linebacker Brian Orakpo added a fourth-quarter sack. Orakpo now has 7.0 sacks for the season and 26.5 sacks for his career. It was his first full sack in a division game in his career.
- Rookie tackle Willie Smith received his first career NFL start.
- Kicker Graham Gano was 3-for-3 on field goal attemps, setting a new career high for field goals made in a season with 26. His previous high was 24, set last season.
- The Redskins converted a 4th-and-1 opportunity in the first quarter. It was the team’s first fourth-down conversion since Week 6 vs. Philadelphia.
- The Redskins won the turnover battle, 3-2. It is the first time this season the team has had a positive turnover margin and the first time the team has won the turnover battle since Week 16 last year at Jacksonville.
- The Redskins converted 8-of-15 third downs (53 percent), the team’s highest third-down conversion percentage of the season. It was the Redskins’ best third-down percentage since converting 58 percent of third downs vs. New Orleans on Dec. 6, 2009.