Let me preface this story by saying, [highlight]I was born and raised a New York Giants fan[/highlight] (yes, I know insert the insults and tacky one-liners you are thinking into the comments section – bring it on, I can handle it).
I admit my team loyalty, nervously, because I feel it offers a unique perspective to yesterday’s ousting of my defending Superbowl champion team at the hands of this mystic unicorn they call Robert Griffin III (RG3, if you will).
That said, I am also a fan of sports and being a journalist, I view myself as a fair one. I will admit wholeheartedly when my team or another team is doing an excellent job, just as much as I will also say when my team or another should be hiding in the locker room and never come out.
The New York Giants defense should be hiding their faces this morning. I was not impressed, not in the least bit. Any fan of a team playing RG3 will tell you, the one thing we are afraid of — aside from the fact that he is annoyingly versatile and mature for his abilities at a rookie level — is his speed.
RG3 tested out the Giants in the beginning with an opening play that involved a hurled pass to a receiver way down the field. The pass didn’t make it into any receivers’ hands, but in a sense was the rookie quarterback’s way of showing “hey I can throw as far as I can run.” And run the Giants let him — completing 13 of 21 passes for 163 yards and running five times for a total of 72 yards. Enough for RG3 to not only lead his team to a convincing 17-16 win over the Giants, but he did so while breaking Cam Newton’s NFL record for yards rushing by a rookie quarterback this season.
And amidst all of this, there was that freak touchdown. RG3 went down near the end zone after another lengthy run, the ball pops out, a Redskins player conveniently is nearby to grab it and get the touchdown. The “RG3” chants” were roaring in full effect after this freak of nature occurrence, which later was rumored to be “practiced” (maybe the run was practice, or the receiver being nearby but honestly you could not practice this move — FACT).
Certainly helping the Redskins was the inconsistency of Giants quarterback Eli Manning. One minute he was throwing a laser sharp pass to an open Martellus Bennett for a touchdown or making a key throw to receiver Victor Cruz for a first down, the next he was scrambling in circles trying to find anyone on the field in a Giant’s jersey to throw the ball to.
And while it pains me to say this, things only got worse for Manning, who seemed to be holding on to the ball for far too long before releasing it, only to throw it to an open space without a receiver.
Adding to it all were the numerous and costly penalties for the Giants, which along with the deteriorating defense, caused the Giants to lose their fourth quarter lead to the Redskins. It just seemed that by the end of things, the Giants defense could not keep up, with even Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul appearing to gasp for air as he came off the field at one point.
Overall, both teams’ receivers were not exactly providing glorious Sportscenter-worthy catches; rather, both sides had some pretty embarrassing and ugly dropped balls. One in particular was so bad, that it looked as if the player caught it and thought “nah I’m not really wanting this right now” and just let it go from his hands. Leaving all of us thinking what the (#)@*?
So now the big question, where do the Redskins stand playoffs wise?
I’ve said before that it would be an uphill battle for this team, and while I still think that will be the case — yesterday’s win certainly made things easier. The Redskins are one win away from first place in the division, with a three-game win streak, delivering losses to division rivals Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and now the Giants, all in a row. And there is always a chance for that wildcard spot.
The Redskins defense, while still lacking key players due to injury, was actually stepping up their performance and dare I say it, helping. That and while RG3 was basically commanding the offensive performance, there were still some key plays by Redskins receivers that were convincing enough to make one think they are capable of even more.
As for the upcoming schedule, things are looking to work in the Redskins favor. They have one tough match up against the Baltimore Ravens (9-3) this Sunday, and then some likely less challenging games verse Cleveland Browns (4-8) and Philadelphia (3-9), followed by a game against Dallas (6-6), which in my opinion could honestly go either way.
As for the Giants and Cowboys, things are looking a bit rougher. The Giants face the always competitive New Orleans Saints (5-7), the dangerously hot Atlanta Falcons (11-1), Baltimore, and then likely some relief with a game against Philadelphia. Dallas also has a tough remaining schedule, with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Saints, and again the Redskins all on there.
Either way you look at it, yesterday’s win certainly puts more serious focus now on the Redskins playoff chances. Some key lessons to take away from yesterday’s game – Giants defense needs a group therapy session, RG3 needs to spread some of that unicorn magic to his receivers hands, and the Redskins defense needs to keep eating whatever it had for breakfast Monday.