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One bad play ruins pretty good day for defense


One bad play ruins pretty good day for defense


Grade vs. Giants: C-

Comment: For a little more than 58 minutes, the Redskins’ defense appeared to be well on its way to an impressive performance against one of the league’s elite offenses. 

At the two minute warning, linebacker Perry Riley (team-high eight tackles) and his teammates had limited the Giants to 64 rushing yards on 19 carries (3.4 yards per). New York quarterback Eli Manning, meantime, had been picked off twice and thrown for only 252 yards, despite facing little sustained pressure from the Redskins’ pass rushers.

Games in the NFL are 60 minutes, however, and a critical breakdown in the waning moments saw a potentially good day suddenly turn bad. Really bad.

The Redskins were clinging to a 23-20 edge in the final minutes when Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz lined up in the slot. But instead of breaking off his route, he opted to run a “go” and sprinted right between defensive backs Josh Wilson and Madieu Williams before hauling in a 77-yard touchdown pass that sealed New York’s 27-23 victory.

Whether it was miscommunication between Wilson and Williams (Wilson appeared to be anticipating more help from Williams), improper alignment or simply Cruz’s flat out foot speed, big plays inside 90 seconds ... while protecting a lead ... on the road ... with first place in the division on the line ... simply can’t happen.

Giants Coach Tom Coughlin explained afterward that Cruz made an astute adjustment on the fly. “There was an option there and he took it,” Coughlin said of Cruz’s choice of routes. “That’s what I can tell you.”

On Monday, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan summed up the defense’s performance succinctly.

“We hit Eli a number of times during that game; he normally hasn’t been hit that many times,” Shanahan said. “Then all of a sudden, you do give up that big play, it takes away all the good things that we did on defense. Instead of allowing [252] yards passing, you’ve got [329].”

Indeed, the statistics don’t lie. And the rankings put the Redskins last in passing yards allowed (2,299) and tied for last in passing touchdowns yielded (16).

Until the secondary gets sorted out, the Redskins will continue to struggle. 

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Quinton Dunbar did something Redskins haven't done since before Facebook existed

Quinton Dunbar did something Redskins haven't done since before Facebook existed

Quinton Dunbar had one heck of a day in New York on Sunday in the Redskins 29-27 win over the Giants. 

Dunbar grabbed an interception and made a catch in the same game, something no Redskins player has done since Champ Bailey on Christmas Eve in 2000. That was the last days of Bill Clinton's presidency, and four years prior to the invention of Facebook. 

Dunbar's impressive feat was not done in vain either. Both the catch and interception were huge plays for Washington, one bigger than the next, in a game that swung back and forth for four quarters. 

In the third quarter, Dunbar lined up as the gunner as the Redskins went to punt. Only the Redskins faked the punt, and Tress Way fired a pass down the left sideline to Dunbar. It was no easy catch either; Dunbar had to jump for the ball and had a defender right on him. 

Later, as the Giants were driving to extend their fourth quarter lead and deep in 'Skins territory, Dunbar made an excellent one-handed leaping interception. It was a very athletic play and gave Kirk Cousins and the Washington offense the ball on what would prove to be a scoring drive. 

In 2015 Dunbar proved his versatility to be a real asset for the Redskins. A receiver in college at the University of Florida, Washington flipped Dunbar to the other side of the ball to be a cornerback. As the 'Skins took off in the second half of last season, Dunbar came to be a integral part of the teams secondary. 

That same versatility showed Sunday in New  York, and now it has Dunbar's name next to Champ Bailey in the Redskins history books. 

MORE REDSKINS: Beckham gets yards, but Norman gets win

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Odell Beckham gets yards, but Josh Norman's Redskins get the win

Odell Beckham gets yards, but Josh Norman's Redskins get the win

Hype doesn't even begin to describe the attention put on Sunday's matchup between Josh Norman and Odell Beckham. The pairing of star cornerback and star receiver overshadowed the Redskins-Giants game, even though Washington came in desperate for a win.

Beckham versus Norman didn't disappoint either. It's overly simplifying the chess match between the two to declare a victor, but one side definitely left Giants Stadium smiling. 

Make no mistake, Beckham got his. He recorded seven catches on 11 targets for more than 100 yards.  But it's what Beckham didn't do - score a touchdown - that stands out.

Norman's play was solid throughout. He almost snagged a first half interception of Eli Manning and delivered a big hit on rookie Sterling Shepard in the second half that resulted in a personal foul penalty.

In the end though, Norman's team won. And that's what matters.  

"It's an awesome day. Straight awesome day," Norman said after the game.

As the players took the field before the game, the Giants Stadium crowd shouted a lot of ugly comments Norman's direction. Then throughout the game Norman was repeatedly booed by the crowd.

"Towards the end I was just celebrating with my teammates, victoriously, you can't ask for nothing better than that."

Much too much was made of the Beckham/Norman pairing, and perhaps for the next NFC East game between the 'Skins and Giants the focus will be different. But on Sunday, Norman and Beckham were the story.

"He made some plays and I made my plays," Norman said of Beckham.

"We got a team win. That's what it was – the Washington Redskins versus the New York Giants."

MORE REDSKINS: Beckham Jr. gets into fight with kicking net