Redskins win despite not getting a takeaway
For the third time in the last five games, the Redskins failed to generate a single turnover on defense. That was unlikely going to be enough against the NFC East-leading New York Giants on Monday night.
But despite all the yardage they allowed, the limited pressure on quarterback Eli Manning, who was sacked just one time, and the lack of turnovers again, Washington still found a way to win a critical division game 17-16 and at 6-6 bolstered its division title and playoff hopes.
Despite New York's dominance at the line of scrimmage, it couldn't find a way to push the ball into the end zone when the chances were there. Five different times the Giants had the ball inside the 25-yard-line and only once did they score a touchdown. Three other times they had to settle for a Lawrence Tynes field goal. He also missed one from 43 yards away.
Those points left on the board rendered the offensive numbers -- 390 total yards, though only 117 in the second half -- relatively meaningless. Manning passed for 280 yards and a touchdown to tight end Martellus Bennett in the second quarter. His team held the ball for 33:13 to 26:47 for the Redskins. It converted nine of 15 third-down conversions. That should have been enough for a defining win. Instead, the NFC East is as muddled as ever with four games left to play in the regular season.
"We didn't have any [turnovers], we were plus-one there, but the real factor was we had a lot of difficulty stopping them," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "We didn't do anything with our opportunities. We aren't going to beat anybody with 16 points."
The lack of turnovers forced continued a season-long trend for Washington. In games where the turnover margin was either even or against the Redskins they were 0-4 entering the night. They can now add a win to that ledger and are 5-2 overall when actually winning the turnover margin.
Football isn't always so simple, of course. But in a game where they had to pressure Manning, Washington's front seven wasn't up to the task until late in the contest when Rob Jackson knocked Manning for a 7-yard loss on a third-and-4 play from New York's own 14.
"I got a couple of 3rd down rushes," Jackson said. "Had to make something happen and get off the field...They're real tough. Eli is a smart guy. He sees us two times a year. At that point it's all about executing - beating your guy."
That critical play came with just under 10 minutes left to go. And while the Redskins managed just one first down before punting, the defense did the same to New York. After a dubious horsecollar tackle penalty on Madieu Williams gave the Giants a first down, a holding penalty two plays later stopped that drive in its tracks. The Redskins offense never gave the ball up again. New York was just 1-for-5 on third downs in the second half.
"We emphasized it. And then we changed up what we were doing," Washington linebacker London Fletcher said. "Third down wise we came with a little bit different type of coverages, brought some pressure. Allowed Rob Jackson to rush a little bit more. He was able to get a sack, get a holding penalty. Big stuff like that. We got a big stop by, I think, by [defensive back] Josh Wilson. It was just a lot of guys making plays."