In win over Giants, the Redskins learn to be clutch

Eli Manning leaves the field after 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III came back from the BYE dedicated to becoming a better player. How was that possible, we all thought? There are lists of other Redskins players who had to get better before we got to RGIII.

Now we know what Griffin meant. Better wasn't good enough. Perfection is his goal. He's infectious. He ignites. Everybody else is more responsible for Redskins success than he is, or so he says. Alfred Morris is his choice for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. "Pierre Garcon plays with anger."

No. The rest of the team wants to put the ball in his hands because they too want to see what jaw-dropping thing he will do next.

Since the Bye, Washington (read that as Griffin) has:

·         won three straight games, all over division rivals to gain tie-breaking leverage over the Giants,

·         completed 73 percent of his passes for 10.5 yards per attempt and with a 9:1 TD to INT ratio,

·         broke the Cam Newton record for rushes by a rookie quarterback,

·         become the first team in NFL history to have a rookie quarterback throw for 2,000 yards and a rookie running back rush for 1,000 yards in the same season, …

and the season ain't over yet.

More than any time in since The Hogs glory days, the Washington Redskins (read that as Griffin) are clutch. 

Giants are still in the driver's seat

The Giants are still the defending Super Bowl Champion and still the Beast of the East until dethroned. That will dawn on them when they return to practice Wednesday. To see them early Tuesday morning was to get the impression the sun was setting on the Giants empire.

To defend the title, they have to stay one game better than the Redskins and Cowboys to make the tiebreakers meaningless. New York cannot do any more about Washington, but Dallas is on their schedule.

The Giants were so incensed about their December 2011 loss to the Redskins that they didn't lose another game that year. The two differences this year are that they cannot afford to slip and that it is Washington, not Dallas or Philadelphia that's pushing them.

It's sunrise over Redskins Park. Rookies and new players are saving Redskins football, and a lot of coaching jobs, to boot.

Stats that matter show good news and bad news

Quarterback passer rating differential

At the end of the half, Eli Manning had a 20-point advantage in QBR over Griffin. He completed 14 of 24 passes, including a TD strike to tight end Martellus Bennett, who was invisible to Redskins linebackers, and two field goal attempts.  Manning toyed with Washington's defense at every turn to remain on the field at will while keeping RGIII where they wanted him, on the bench.

 The Giants parlayed statistical advantage into a narrow lead in a tight game.

There's a story in what happened in the Redskins locker room during the half. It will dribble out through the professional class in the next day or two. Whatever it was, its effect was seen in the QBR that swung to Griffin's advantage by game's end.

Griffin's passer rating – 101.9
Manning's Passer rating – 98.0

In the end, the champs went out with a whimper. Of their four second-half possessions, one ended with a field goal, the others with punts. The last possession closed with Manning's four-yard completion on third and 20. The Redskins took the punt at 3:51 and literally ran the clock down.

New York was done in by a pair of rookies, Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris.

Third Down Stops

If Jim Haslett were fired for anything, it would be the inability of his defense to make stops. If the 'Skins are so fortunate to make the playoffs, this will kill them if things don't get better. The good news is that it may be getting better.  

The Giants made eight of 10 third down attempts in the first half, but nine of 15 for the game. Say what? The G-men made one measly third down conversion in the second half.

We have to have a long discussion about Jim Haslett after the season. Now isn't the time. Total yardage defense isn't the point in the passing era. The Giants and Patriots did not make the Super Bowl because they were tops in yardage. They were disruptive.

If the Redskins cannot make stops, they must be disruptive. Turnovers are how they make stops. That won't come conveniently on third downs. What Haslett makes of this defense, given its talent and injuries, London Fletcher is a special concern, is the only way to judge him this season.

But, yeah, the Redskins need to get better at making stops.

Turnover Differential

The Redskins "lost" the turnover battle, but Griffin's turned into a freak play recovery by Josh Morgan for a score. Call it an omen of the evening.

Alfred Morris' third quarter fumble deep in Giants territory fueled his possessed running on Washington's last drive to lock up the win. You don't get a pass for fumbles, but Morris earned velvet glove treatment. It was a coachable moment in an outstanding performance.   

AP Story on NFL.com – Redskins peaking at right time with won over Giants

Image: Rob Carr, Getty Images/North America via zimbio.com.

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Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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