LANDOVER, Md. - In front of a packed house on the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the Redskins were finally able to do something they hadn’t done since December of 2007:beat the New York Giants. Washington snapped its six game losing streak to New York, defeating them, 28-14, to open the season 1-0.
The game started out in very familiar fashion for the home team, as the Giants scored on their second possession,one that was highlighted by a 68-yard Hakeem Nicks catch over safety Reed Doughty. That set up a two-yard quarterback plunge into the end zone by Eli Manning to give New York the early 7-0 lead. The Redskins then started the game on offense with two three-and-outs, with Rex Grossman looking every bit like the quarterback fans feared he would be. Add in a Graham Gano missed field goal from 39 yards out, and there was a palpable feeling inside a sold-out Fed Ex Field that the team they were cheering for looked awfully similar to last year’s edition.
But then the tide turned. The Redskins began making plays, and they found themselves victorious after showing the type of progress most believed they would in their second year under head coach Mike Shanahan.
“I knew the type of team we had this year,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said after the game. “I’ve been saying that since day one. It’s a new team. It’s only game one. But it’s a new team, new character, and win, lose, or draw – you’re going to see a different attitude out there on this team.”
The rebound started when the offense engineered an 11-play, 66-yard march that ended in running back Tim Hightower’s first touchdown with his new team, tying the game.
The usually erratic Grossman was undoubtedly one of the stars of this game, and his play seem to represent the Redskins’ performance on this day: slow to start against a familiar foe, but finishing strong.
“Things don’t always work out the way you think you wil to start a game,” Grossman said. “But you always have confidence that you’ll eventually get into a rhythm.”
And get into a rhythm he did, as the Redskins’ polarizing quarterback finished the game going 21 of 34 for 305 yards and two touchdown strikes, one to Anthony Armstrong and the other to his former college teammate in Jabar Gaffney.
“He did good,” Gaffney said of his quarterback the game. “He did real good. He got us a big [completion], and he closed the door done there at the end [with the touchdown pass]. That's the kind of leadership you want out of your quarterback”
Gaffney was just one of the team’s offseason additions to contribute to the victory. Three of the four scores by the Redskins were by players who were not on the roster in 2010, including rookie Ryan Kerrigan on the game’s most pivotal play: an interception return for a touchdown to put the team ahead.
On defense, the team showed real progress in their second year under defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. The Redskins sacked Eli Manning four times, in addition to Kerrigan’s pick-six.
The result of this game affirmed something the players have believed ever since training camp: things really are different. Despite what the outside world believes, Redskins players believe they truly have something brewing.
“It’s something special,” receiver Anthony Armstrong said. “[It’s] some little buzz going around in here. I don’t know what it is, but it’s something special.”