By Brad Carroll
The New York Giants sure chose the perfect stage to make a statement to the rest of the NFL that they are far removed from the team that started the season with two terrible losses. The Giants' 45-14 victory over the Washington Redskins was that impressive Thursday night.
The Giants improved to 2-2 on the season, with easy wins coming over the Texans and Redskins in back to back weeks. The offense, which everyone thought didn't have a chance to succeed after a horrible start to the year, was on fire for the second straight week. Eli Manning threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns and the running game eclipsed 150 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
On defense, the Giants forced six turnovers, intercepting Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins four times and also recovering two fumbles. The Giants won the turnover battle 6-1 Thursday.
Everything worked on this night for the Giants, even though they had to travel to Washington for a game on a short week. Here is a look at the three keys to victory we broke down in our game preview and how they played out on the field.
1. Ground and Pound
Why It Was Key: "Rashad Jennings' huge workload on Sunday could mean rookie Andre Williams will get extra carries Thursday night. Whether it's Jennings or Williams getting the carries, the Giants as a team must rush for over 100 yards to put themselves in position to beat the Redskins."
How It Played Out: The Giants rushed for 154 yards on 38 carries overall, a 4.1 yard per carry average. Coming into the game, the Redskins had allowed an average of just 2.7 yards per rush. The Giants obviously won the battle at the line of scrimmage, a huge positive for the beleaugered offensive line. Jennings, after rushing 34 times last Sunday, ran it just 13 times for 55 yards, saving his legs for bigger games in the future. Williams ran it 15 times for 66 yards and scored his first career touchdown. Peyton Hillis added eight carries for 31 yards and even Eli Manning rushed for a touchdown. This victory over Washington was a complete blowout, with teh passing game a big contributor, but obviously the Giants were able to ground and pound through the Redskins front seven and on to victory.
2. It's Always About Turnovers
Why It Was Key: "The Giants lost the turnover battle in their first two games of the season, which resulted in losses to the Lions and Cardinals, while they won it in Week 3, which ended with a victory over the Texans. It's not a coincidence."
How It Played Out: The Giants won the turnover battle against Washington in a rout just as bad as the final score, forcing four interceptions and recovering two fumbles against the Redskins. The Giants turned the first takeaway, a forced fumble caused by a Mathias Kiwanuka sack and recovered by Cullen Jenkins, into a touchdown and 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The Redskins' second fumble was turned into a Giants field goal with no time left in the first half. Three out of the five Washington drives in the third quarter resulted in interceptions for the Giants defense, by Prince Amukamara, Quintin Demps and Trumaine McBride. On the Redskins first drive of the fourth quarter, Antrel Rolle picked off Cousins to set up another Giants touchdown. This was the ultimate beatdown in all facets of the game for the Giants, and it started with turnovers, a whopping six of them on this night. In the last two weeks, the Giants are a +7 in turnover ratio. That's winning football.
3. Slowing Down DeSean Jackson
Why It Was Key: "The Giants' rebuilt secondary will be charged with stopping Jackson Thursday night. This is exactly the reason why they added Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the defensive backfield, to slow down the opposition's top receiving threat. If he can slow down Jackson in the passing game, the Giants should be able to focus on the run and have a great chance to pull off the upset."
How It Turned Out: Jackson has been a Giants killer his entire career, but on this night he was a non-factor. Jackson caught just one pass for nine yards. He was targeted four times. Pierre Garcon, the other big-time Washington wide receiver, was held in check as well, catching just two passes for 28 yards on six targets. In all, Cousins was just 19-of -33 for 257 yards. Alfred Morris had 63 rushing yards on 13 carries on the ground. Both the passing and running games were shut down by the Giants defense, who knocked down eight passes in the game. The Giants simply dominated the Redskins on their way to a 2-2 record.
Giants Game Balls after victory over Redskins right here.