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Flashback Monday: Skins shatter Meadowlands jinx

Flashback Monday: Skins shatter Meadowlands jinx

The 1991 Washington Redskins were a perfect storm composed of talented, determined players and a coaching staff pushing the right buttons at exactly the right moment. This Week 8 game is a great illustration of that as the RealRedskins.com Giants flashback series continues. From the pages of The Redskins From A to Z:

Giants Stadium—The Redskins battled back from a 13-0 halftime deficit and stormed past the Giants thanks largely to two touchdown passes from Mark Rypien to Gary Clark.

It's not often that a 7-0 team with a two-game lead in its division goes into a game with a chip on its collective shoulder, but that was exactly the mood of the Redskins going into this Sunday night contest in Giants Stadium.

The mindset stemmed from the fact that the Giants had beaten the Redskins six straight times. Worse, with the exception of a 1987 game played by strike replacement players, Washington had not won in the Meadowlands since 1983. This led to talk that the 7-0 start was not so impressive since they hadn't faced their nemesis yet.

"I was getting pretty upset about hearing that 7-0 didn't mean a thing," said defensive tackle Eric Williams. "I wasn't going to apologize for our record because the New York Giants hadn't been on the schedule."

The way the game started out, it appeared that the Redskins were going to have to apologize for their performance. The Giants controlled the line of scrimmage and outgained Washington 207 yards to 35. The frustration for the Washington offense was summed up on one play when Gary Clark got open deep, Mark Rypien delivered the pass on target, but Clark dropped the ball.

On the positive side, as badly as they had been outplayed the Redskins weren't out of the game on the scoreboard. Rodney Hampton scored a touchdown on a one-yard run, but two other New York forays deep into Washington territory were stopped short of the end zone and the Giants had to settle for two Raul Allegre field goals and a 13-0 halftime lead.

"The way it started, you have a tendency to say 'Goodness, gracious, here we go again,'" said Gibbs. Most of the players chose stronger language. The mood of the team in the locker room at halftime was one of loud, self-directed anger. Clark, desperate for a chance at redemption for dropping the sure TD pass, was among the most vocal, screaming, "Give me the damn ball!"

Rypien did just that with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Clark to pull the Redskins to within six at 13-7. That capped an 87-yard drive during which the Redskins converted seven straight third downs. The defense stopped the Giants when rookie defensive tackle Bobby Wilson knifed in to nail Hampton for a six-yard loss, forcing a punt.

The Redskins moved to their own 46 yard line where they faced third and 12. Looking for a gamebreaker, Joe Gibbs called a play that assistant Rod Dowhower had suggested in meetings the week before. The Giants were playing their standard defense, a soft, two-deep zone that was designed to prevent the deep pass. They key to beating it long was to get someone out of position.

Rypien took the snap and rolled to his left. Every time he had done that previously that year, he had thrown to the left. Free safety Greg Jackson knew this and dropped off of Clark, who was running a fly outside the right hashmark. "When he rolls that way," said Jackson, "we have to roll with him."

That left Clark with single coverage from corner Everson Walls. Clark got a step and Rypien got him the ball at the three. The receiver bobbled the ball for just a moment but this time he secured it for a 14-13 lead.

"It was exactly the same play as in the first half," Clark said. "Rip laid it right in my hands."

After getting the ball back, the Redskins did exactly what they needed to do; they ground out a time-consuming drive. Rookie running back Ricky Ervins was the workhouse, carrying the ball on 10 of the 14 plays that chewed nearly eight minutes off the clock. Chip Lohmiller's field goal to make it 17-13 came with 47 seconds left and Wilbur Marshall's interception shut off New York's last-gasp effort.

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The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!