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Giants like that! Strong Defensive Effort Eliminates Redskins from Playoff Contention

(Photo: Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

The Giants playoff spot was already clinched. Many saying, “It’s a meaningless game. Rest the starters.” With a chance to enter the first round of the playoffs with momentum and in the process, eliminating a division foe in the Washington Redskins? That was an opportunity too good for the Giants to pass up.

With the loss at home from earlier this season against the Washington Redskins still in their minds, the Giants used this as motivation. With a 13-10 lead and the Redskins threatening to either tie or take the late lead with a less than two minutes remaining in the game. On the Giants 43 yard line, Cousins would make a deep pass to Pierre Garcon. It looked like it would be another first down for the Redskins. However, Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie emerged from seemingly out of nowhere to jump in front of Garcon and haul in the interception.

With six seconds remaining in the game, the Redskins would try their best impression of the Music City Miracle. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but an errant lateral pass from tight end Jordan Reed allowed Giants cornerback Trevin Wade to scoop up the ball and take it into the end zone, sealing the victory for Big Blue.

This 19-10 victory over the Redskins (8-7-1) eliminates the division rival and moves the Giants to an 11-5 record. More importantly, however, this victory gives the Giants much needed momentum heading into the first round of the playoffs.

“We played physical, hard-nosed football on the grass and on the road against a hungry football team,” said Giant Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “We ran the ball and we took care of the ball. That’s important this time of year.”

The Giants defense showed up huge on Sunday, giving the rest of the NFC a preview of what’s to come in the playoffs. The Steve Spagnuolo led defense had a field day against the Redskins. In the first half, the Giants held the Redskins to only 73 total yards and zero points. The Giants utilized the quarterback blitz effectively, where four different players sacked Cousins throughout the game (Landon Collins, Leon Hall, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Damon Harrison). When watching the sacks to Cousins, it was like each Giants defender was shot out of a cannon. Heading into the playoffs, the Giants boast the best defensive squad in the NFC side of the bracket.

“It gives teams something to think about as we play that we’re not a push-over team and we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs,” said Collins “We live for the pressure. We think of it as an opportunity to make plays. We’re trying our best to be the best defense in the league.”

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie stood out as one of the main reasons why the Giants were victorious on Sunday. “DRC” had two key interceptions on two momentous Redskins offensive drives in the second half, showing the speed of a wide receiver to leap in front of Cousins’ intended targets to give the ball back to the Giants. The aforementioned interception at the end of the fourth quarter solidified why the Giants are not only scary to run against, but to also throw the ball against.

“Our mindset is to just finish it,” said Rodgers-Cromartie, regarding defensive strategy late in games. “I think that’s part of it. You go out there, you come here to win and [you] just be ready for the opportunity.”

Rookie running back Paul Perkins got his first start of the season, getting the bulk of the carries throughout the game. And man, did he take advantage of his carries. On 21 carries, Perkins had 102 rushing yards (4.9 average yards per carry), making him the first Giants running back to rush for over 100 yards this season. It comes on the last game of the season, which is a frustrating statistic, however, it is a breath of fresh air for the Giants and the fan base. Perkins has earned the role of starting running back, and it comes at the right time, just before the playoffs.

“I thought he ran nicely,” said McAdoo, regarding the play of Perkins. “I thought he had a couple of nice cuts. He stuck his foot in the ground. He had a chance to put his pads down a couple of times and run for some physical, tough yards.”

About my take on how the Beckham-Norman rivalry being a non-factor heading into this game. Yeah, about that. Odell Beckham and Josh Norman still went at it, however, Norman was the instigator in the altercations. Norman gave himself two personal foul penalties, one for shoving Beckham late out of bounds and his second for head-butting Beckham after a dead play.

The comforting thing about the constant attempts to get in Beckham’s head, Beckham would jog away, not taking Norman’s bait. Norman appeared to be more hell-bent on instigating Beckham than he was to win the game for the Redskins. Nonetheless, it’s great to see Beckham take the high road.

“That’s been dead for a long time,” said Beckham on the “rivalry” with Norman. “I’m really focused on us and going to the playoffs right now.”

Playoffs. That is the concentration now. After the Green Bay Packers’ (10-6) 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions (9-7) on Sunday night, the Giants found out their opponent. Next Sunday at Lambeau Field, where the early weather forecast is expected to be in the single digits. Not only that, but it is McAdoo facing his former team. One of the best defenses in the league versus the red-hot Packers offense, under the helm of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Giants-Packers in the playoffs. Nothing gets better than that. I wonder how it worked out for the Giants in the past. Pretty well, I’m sure.

Team Stats
Total Plays: 68
Total Yards: 332 Yards
Penalties: 5-42 Yards
Turnovers: 0
First Downs: 16

Player Stats
Eli Manning: 17/27, 180 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 82.3 QBR.
Paul Perkins: 21 Attempts, 102 Yards.
Rashad Jennings: 18 Attempts, 52 Yards, 1 TD.
Odell Beckham Jr: 5 Receptions, 44 Yards.
Tavarres King: 1 Reception, 44 Yards.
Sterling Shepard: 3 Receptions, 30 Receiving Yards, 1 Rush Attempt, 7 Rushing Yards
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: 3 Total Tackles, 2 Assisted Tackles, 1 Sack, 2 Passes Defended, 2 INT.
Landon Collins: 8 Total Tackles, 4 Assisted Tackles, 1 Sack.
Jonathan Casillas: 6 Total Tackles, 5 Assisted Tackles, 2 Passes Defended.
Leon Hall: 4 Total Tackles, 2 Assisted Tackles, 1 Sack.
Damon Harrison: 4 Total Tackles, 1 Sack.
Keenan Robison: 7 Total Tackles, 1 Assisted Tackle.

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