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Washington, D.C. - With Donovan McNabb watching from the sidelines in what was likely to be his final game in a Redskins uniform, Washington's Rex Grossman-led comeback fell short as they fell 17-14 to the desperate New York Giants in the season finale.
The Redskins exited a forgettable 2010 campaign with a whimper as Grossman turned the ball over three times and Mario Manningham caught a 92-yard bomb from Eli Manning in the third quarter, giving them just enough to edge out Mike Shanahan's squad. However, New York's playoff aspirations were dashed with a Green Bay win, which eliminated them from playoff contention.
For Washington, the playoffs were out of the question for much of the second half of the season, leaving them to play for pride and for some, their jobs. After McNabb was benched 13 games into his inaugural season, Shanahan announced he would be evaluating his roster in the final three weeks of the season.
Most of what he saw today couldn't have pleased him as the Redskins lost their sixth straight to the Giants and ninth in 10 games.
Osi Umenyiora wreaked havoc in the Redskins backfield, forcing a pair of fumbles and the Giants had four takeaways on the day, including three while Washington was in their territory. The mistakes haunted the Redskins in a ballgame that turned out to be a close affair despite their repeated efforts to hand it to New York.
"We sure had out opportunities during the game, but anytime you have four turnovers and you are still in the game at the end, I think you did some good things throughout the game," said Shanahan. "But, I was disappointed we couldn't finish."
The Giants struck first behind the running of Brandon Jacobs. The burly 264-pound back carried the ball for 37 yards on his first three carries, leaving a familiar trail of Redskins defenders in his wake. Jacobs and quarterback Eli Manning led an 11-play, 78-yard scoring drive in 5:58 capped off by a 20-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.
The Redskins had their chances following the Tynes field goal, but Graham Gano, last week's NFC special teams player of the week, pushed a 30-yard kick wide left. Then on the ensuing possession, Grossman was stripped by Umenyiora with Washington on the Giants 20-yard line.
The wasted opportunities cost the Redskins dearly as the Giants put together another long drive in the second quarter. Washington's defense surrendered first downs on two third and longs and Jacobs punched it in from two yards out to extend the New York lead to 10-0. After the touchdown, the defense tightened and the Giants only possessed the ball in Redskins' territory twice for the rest of the game.
"I thought we did a pretty good job with stopping them on first and second downs in the first half," said London Fletcher. "We did allow them to convert a couple of third downs that were key to scoring one of their touchdowns. Defensively, we got one turnover, we probably needed to get a couple more because they won the take away battle, but I'm proud of the way we played today. I thought the guys played with a lot of energy; never looked at the score, we just kept fighting and gave ourselves a chance to win the ball game."
With their inability to make the most of their scoring chances, the Redskins had to scramble to put together a late first half rally. Grossman completed five of six passes in the two minute offense including a 1-yard TD toss to backup tight end Fred Davis with 22 seconds left, cutting the deficit to 10-7.
Grossman passed for 120 yards in the first half, but 77 of those came in the final two minutes. He finished 26-44 for 336 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception while Manning went 17 of 29 for 243 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Manning didn't play a particularly good game, but unlike Grossman he limited his mistakes and it was enough.
In the first half it was the defense doing the bulk of the work as they were on the field for 18:45 with the Giants going 4-9 on third down conversions. Third downs were once again a huge issue all day for the Redskins as the offense moved the chains on just 3 of 12 attempts. The Giants went 5 of 16 on third down, but they converted several key third and long situations, which was the cause for frustration in the locker room afterward.
"The third down and long [struggles] blow my mind," said safety Reed Doughty. "Third and 10 and we can't get off the field. It blows my mind."
The defense did post a strong day against a Giants running game, which was missing lineman Rich Seubert after he dislocated his kneecap in the first half. They gave up 82 yards rushing after making some early adjustments, containing a ground game that amassed 198 yards rushing against them in December.
Despite the lackluster start for both teams, the Giants kicked off the second half with a bang. On the Giants' second play from scrimmage, Manning lobbed a pass over DeAngelo Hall into the arms of Manningham who turned on the burners and took it in for a 92-yard TD reception and 17-7 advantage for New York.
"It was man-to-man coverage. I think D. Hall maybe mistimed his jump, because he had good coverage on him," said Fletcher who finished with a team high nine tackles. "And from there we only had a pulled safety and once the ball was completed it was going to be tough for somebody to tackle him."
The Giants kept the pressure up as linebacker Keith Bulluck intercepted a Grossman pass intended for Mike Sellers, but Tynes missed a 39-yard attempt. Umenyiora once again lived up to his reputation as a Redskin killer by forcing another Grossman fumble with Washington driving down the field at the Giants 30-yard line.
The Redskins moved the ball well in the second half, gaining 222 yards, but the quality possession didn't translate to points, making it one that got away for defensive lineman Adam Carriker.
"I think we outplayed them," he said. "I think we were the better team, but we cost ourselves and that's why they won. We got to eliminate those mistakes, you know the big pass, the turnovers, things like that."
"The most frustrating part of the game was the fact that we were moving the ball well and had some good drives going and something bad would happen to stop our drives," added Grossman. "To only get 14 points as well as we moved the ball is extremely frustrating."
While the Giants were unable to distance themselves from Washington, it ultimately didn't matter because the Redskins failed to capitalize whenever they were in scoring position. Santana Moss' fourth quarter fumble in the red zone ruined a key drive late and Shanahan opted to run the ball on fourth and one from the Giants' 32-yard line rather than attempt a 49-yard field goal.
That decision backfired when Anthony Armstrong brought the crowd to life with an explosive 64-yard TD catch on the Redskins next possession. Had Gano come on and made the field goal, Armstrong's touchdown would have tied the score. Instead Grossman hit him in stride as he split a pair of Giant defensive backs to make it 17-14 with 5:52 remaining. Still, despite the questionable decision-making, it appeared the Redskins would have a shot to end the season on a high note.
The defense was able to force a punt, leaving Washington with 2:11 to steal one from New York. Armstrong picked up a first down, but that was all they could manage. Grossman's fourth down attempt intended for Terrence Austin fell incomplete, icing the win for the Giants and ending the season on a sour note.
"I think at the end of the first year, especially in the next two weeks, that we look at everything," said Shanahan. "We look at personnel and we look at our scheme. Then you got to make a decision on what you can do to better your football team and your organization....Obviously, when you finish the way we did with six wins, we got some areas to work on."
The New York Giants still need the Chicago Bears to beat the Green Bay Packers if they want to make the playoffs, but the Washington Redskins offense seem to be doing their best to make the Giants' job just a little bit easier. Rex Grossman threw what has to be the worst pass that any Redskins quarterback has thrown all season. Keith Bullock seemed almost surprised that Grossman threw the ball straight to him in an apparent miscommunication with his receiver. The veteran linebacker intercepted Grossman to give the Giants the ball on Washington's 27-yard line, but New York failed to move the ball, and Lawrence Tynes missed his first field goal in his last 17 attempts as the score remained 17-7.
With the Redskins driving the ball down into field goal range and Grossman connecting with Santana Moss repeatedly, Osi Umenyiora got the ball back for the Giants with a sack-fumble. It was Grossman's third turnover of the game. On the Redskins' next drive, following Terrence Austin's second and third career NFL receptions, the normally reliable Moss fumbled the ball on New York's 10-yard line for the Redskins' fourth turnover.
With just under six minutes to play in the game, the Redskins tried something that had often worked brilliantly under Donovan McNabb, but had been largely unsuccessful to date under Grossman. This time though, it worked to perfection. Grossman hit Anthony Armstrong in the numbers on a 64-yard pass for the quarterback's second passing touchdown of the game. The Giants' lead has been trimmed to 17-14.
With the Giants backed up at their own 8 yard line, Eli Manning found Mario Manningham, who had several steps on DeAngello Hall, and Manningham took it the distance. 92 yards later, the Giants regained their double digit lead. It's the longest play the Redskins defense has given up this year. And considering this is the 32nd ranked defense in the NFL, the result isn't surprising.
Being down 10 points, it'll be up to Rex Grossman and company to somehow respond to the quick score. Although the offense has been inconsistent so far, they have found some holes in the running game and in the passing game.
If Grossman is to be the starter next year, he needs to finish this half strongly.
After using Ryan Torain often on their previous drive, the Redskins trusted Rex Grossman to take control of the two-minute offense at the end of the first half. Grossman utilized his tight ends to march 80 yards down the field for Washington's first score of the game.
The Redskins threw the ball five times on the six-play drive, turning to Torain only inside the five-yard line for a rushing attempt on first and goal. Grossman had passes to Chris Cooley for 16-yards, Fred Davis for 19-yards, Santana Moss for 18-yards, and Keiland Williams for 23-yards.
In the end Grossman turned back to Davis on a playaction fake for the score. With heavy pressure up the middle, Grossman lofted the ball high across the goal line and found a wide open Davis for the touchdown.
The Giants now lead 10-7 heading into halftime, where they'll probably all take a quick glance at the score in Green Bay. The Giants need the Packers to lose for them to remain in the NFL playoff picture, and Bears are currently leading by three points.
On the 9 play, 69 yard scoring drive, the New York offense was able to convert on crucial third downs. Eli Manning had plenty of protection as Redskins defenders slipped on the way to the QB, giving him a great pocket to survey the field. The Redskins coverage did as well as they could, but several catches on the drive were on spectacular efforts, such as Derek Hagan's 15 yard grab or Kevin Boss's 24 yard grab inside the Redskins 10 yard line. But in the end, it was the Redskins biggest nemesis, Brandon Jacobs, who punched it in on a strong effort at the goal line.
The Redskins have now gone down by double digits yet again to a division rival. In a game where the Redskins are playing for pride and the Giants are playing for the playoffs, it will be interesting to see just how serious Washington is about becoming the spoiler for New York's playoff hopes.
The scoring drive featured a strong dose of a Redskins nemesis, Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs ran for 37 yards on the drive, the biggest chunk coming on a 27 yarder in which safety Kevin Barnes made a shoe string tackle to save the Giants bruiser from cruising into the endzone.
Barnes was active on almost every tackle made for the Redskins on the drive, and was made key plays inside the red zone to force the Giants to settle for a field goal. Lawrence Tynes then hit the 20 yard field goal to give the Giants the early 3-0 lead.
With the injury to center Rich Seubert, the Giants O line could be under heavy pressure the rest of the way. The Redskins defense could exploit this advantage and may be able to finally get pressure on Eli Manning.
Rich Seubert, the Giants' center and an important component of their offensive line, has been carted off the field with a leg injury.
Seubert went down while being beat on a play by Redskins defensive tackle Anthony Bryant. The center clutched his leg immediately and began calling to the sideline for New York's training staff. Seubert, unable to walk off the field, was carted into the locker room. Seubert's injury has been diagnosed as a dislocated kneecap, and he is out for the rest of the game.
Seubert has been with the Giants since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2001. He's put together a Pro Bowl-worthy season, but was snubbed this year. If the Giants win today and make the playoffs, it appears likely that Seubert would miss the postseason as well.
Shaun O'Hara is also out for the Giants today, and so Seubert will be replaced by left guard Kevin Boothe for the duration of the game. Boothe is a fifth year veteran who has been with New York since 2006.
The Washington Redskins have been out of the NFL playoff picture for several weeks now, but that doesn't mean that their season is over. There's still plenty to play for. Pride. Momentum. Draft position. And oh yeah, making sure that a division rival stays home from the playoffs as well would be pretty nice.
With a win today and a loss by the Green Bay Packers, the New York Giants can return to the playoffs. With a loss, they would miss out for the second year in a row after promising starts each year. A loss could also cost coach Tom Coughlin his job.
The Redskins will also continue evaluating players today. Several young individuals like Anthony Bryant and Rob Jackson made significant contributions defensively last week, and could earn 2011 roster spots with repeat performances. The Redskins will also be judging whether Rex Grossman is qualified to remain the starting quarterback heading into next season.
The only active Redskins player that missed practice on Friday and appears unlikely to play is Carlos Rogers. He is listed as questionable, along with eight other players who participated in practice, including Brian Orakpo and Brandon Banks. The Giants will be missing Hakeem Nicks, Shaun O'Hara, and Dave Tollefson.
Today's game has been moved to 4:15 PM to allow for a bigger audience since it contains playoff implications. The Giants are sure to be keeping an eye on the score in Green Bay as the Packers' game against the Chicago Bears is at the same time.
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