Leave it to the New York Giants to continue to do it the hard way.
The men in blue had a golden opportunity to virtually put away the NFC East with a win over the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football. Instead, the Giants dropped a 17-16 decision, their third loss in their last four games, to Robert Griffin III and the ‘Skins. Considered finished at 3-6 a month ago, the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys are now each a game out of first place.
The Giants, meanwhile, welcome the high-octane New Orleans Saints to MetLife Stadium on Sunday. There are four games left in the season and New York's road to the playoffs just got a lot harder.
Robert Griffin III: The rookie stud completed 13 of 21 passes for 163 yards and ran five times for 72 yards to Cam Newton's NFL record for yards rushing by a rookie quarterback. His passer rating of 135.3 against NFC East teams is the best intra-divisional rating in the league.
And to quote Jon Gruden, the "magic of RGII" was on display in the first quarter. On second-and-2 from the New York 28, Griffin ran to his left and was being tackled by Stevie Brown after what would have been a 12-yard gain. But as Griffin fell with his back to the ground, the ball popped out and went into the hads of Joshua Morgan three yards farther upfield. Morgan then ran 13 yards for the score.
Pierre Garcon: Eight receptions for 106 yards and score while showing no effects of a toe injury that forced him out of six of the Redskins' first nine games.
Alfred Morris: One-half of Washington's prolific rookie tag team, Morris ran for 124 yards on 22 carries, becoming the second Redskins rookie to run for 1,000 yards. (Reggie Brooks--1,063 in 1993.)
Eli Manning: Completed 20 of 33 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown. Too bad he couldn't finish the job.
Ahmad Bradshaw: Ran hard all night for 103 yards on 24 carries.
Victor Cruz: Five catches for 104 yards.
Discipline and self-control: The Giants were flagged for nine penalties that cost them 73 yards -- two in the fourth quarter that eventually cost them the game.
"This is not real complicated," said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. "I don't know what happened in the second half. They certainly didn't come out and play. Penalties, sloppy football."
Red Zone offense: Once again the Giants failed inside or near their opponent's 20-yard line. They held the ball for 33:13 but produced three Lawrence Tynes field goals and just one touchdown.
David Wilson: The disappointing rookie is being counted on to step up in the absence of the injured Andre Brown. He ran the ball for nine yards on four carries.
Front Four: A week after terrorizing Aaron Rodgers, the Giants failed to sack Griffin. Then again, it's been proven that few teams can shut down the electric rookie.
Zak DeOssie: Snapped the ball too far to holder Steve Weatherford's right that led to Tynes' missed field goal in the second quarter, which proved the difference in the game.
On the Giants' second drive of the fourth quarter, Manning found Martellus Bennett for an 11-yard gain on 3rd-and-10 with 4:42 left in the game. Alas, a holding call on left tackle Will Beatty wiped out that gain. The Giants failed to convert on 3rd-and-20 and didn't get the ball back again.
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