NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, November 29, 2015, 4:24 PM
Eli Manning picked the wrong week to have his first three interception game of the season as the Giants lose a crucial NFC East showdown in Washington.
LANDOVER, Md. – In their most meaningful late-season game in years, a chance to gain control of the NFC East, to start to pull away in football’s most mediocre division, the Giants didn’t even bother to show up until the fourth quarter.
A 20-14 loss to Washington isn’t how you want to come out of the bye week and establish yourself as a late-season force, but that’s exactly how it went down Sunday at FedExField.
All the Giants had to do was continue their domination of Washington, a team they’d thrashed five straight times, a team they’d owned for the last three years. Instead, they spent three quarters doing everything wrong, before Odell Beckham Jr. made things interesting.
With 4:57 to play, Beckham exploded down the left sideline on third-and-2 from the Washington 21, then dove to catch a 21-yard rainbow from Eli Manning, a TD that tightened things to 20-14, and made a game of what had once seemed like a certain blowout.
How bad had things been for the Giants before that?
Washington CB Quinton Dunbar (c.) is mobbed by his teammatesafter his interception.
Manning had thrown interceptions on the Giants’ first two possessions on his way to his first three-interception outing of this season.
A battered Giants offensive line fell apart even more, losing guard Geoff Schwartz to a fractured leg. And a defense that had held its own against Tom Brady’s Patriots just two weeks ago was picked apart by Washington’s Kirk Cousins, who passed for one touchdown and added another on a QB sneak that just barely made it past the goal line in the second quarter.
The Giants had gotten on the board with 10:10 left in the fourth, when Manning fired to a streaking Rueben Randle for a 40-yard catch-and-run score.
Odell Beckham Jr. makes an impressive TD catch in the fourth quarter, but it is too little, too late.
Except Washington drained the clock to 19 seconds and Manning’s last-gasp drive, started from his own 16, went nowhere.
And now the Giants (5-6) are deadlocked with Washington (5-6) atop the NFC East. Just three days after both the Cowboys and Eagles lost on Thanksgiving Day, the division remains up for grabs.
And it’s Washington that may be in the driver’s seat, with two games against Tony Romo-less Dallas among its final five games, while the Giants have dates against undefeated Carolina and Minnesota ahead.
Ryan Kerrigan and Washington have plenty to celebrate as they are now in a first-place tie in the NFC East after holding on in a win over the Giants.
It was an eventful first quarter filled with missed opportunities by both teams. The Giants opened the game by driving to the Washington 47, but, fueled by a delay of game penalty, they eventually found themselves facing third-and-11. When Manning’s pass to Shane Vereen bounced off the running back’s typically sure hands, linebacker Perry Riley Jr. capitalized, making the interception and setting Washington up at the Giants 47.
The Giant ‘D’ held Washington to a three-and-out, but after the punt pinned Manning deep in his own territory, the quarterback was at it again, making a dangerous throw to Dwayne Harris on third-and-9 from his own 7. Harris leaped to make the catch along the right sideline, but he was popped by safety Kyshoen Jarrett, and the ball came loose, landing in the hands of Washington’s Will Blackmon.
But even then, Washington couldn’t cash in. Gifted the ball at the Giants 26, a holding call led to a 51-yard field goal attempt by Dustin Hopkins. But the kick was blocked, and the Giants got the ball right back.
It wasn’t until the final drive of the first quarter that one team finally got going, that Washington pieced together a 15-play drive that bled into the start of the second quarter and ended with a 41-yard Hopkins field goal.
After a Giants three-and-out, things only got worse. On first-and-10 from his own 37, Kirk Cousins dropped back and launched a bomb to DeSean Jackson, who easily beat Jayron Hosley and Brandon Meriweather for a 63-yard score and a 10-0 edge. Then, just after the two-minute warning, Cousins added another score, capping a nine-play, 80-yard by barely getting the ball to nip the goal line on a short sneak for a 17-0 advantage.