By Brad Carroll
The odds were stacked heavily against them, but the New York Giants came out of Thursday night's matchup with the Washington Redskins right back in the race for the NFC East crown. The Giants' dominating 45-14 was an eye-opener for the rest of the league, who wrote the team off after suffering two bad losses to start the season.
This victory over Washington, the most impressive win of this season or last, had it all for the Giants. They passed for 300 yards, rushed for over 150 and recovered two fumbles and intercepted four passes on defense. It doesn't get much better than that.
Now, the Giants are 2-2 with a victory in their only division game so far this season. The going gets harder from here, with a home game against the Falcons before back-to-back road games against the Eagles and Cowboys, so this was a huge victory for Big Blue.
"That was the whole thing, to be able to leave here tonight and be 2-2 and 1-0 in the division," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after the game. "That was huge. It's exciting to be in the hunt, and by being able to come out of here with a win, hopefully we have a chance to be."
They are certainly on the right track. Here are those players that got them back to even this season, as we hand out Game Balls after the big victory. The performance was so dominating, we won't even look into handing out possible Game Falls on this night.
Larry Donnell: He has been the Giants most consistent player over the first four weeks of the season, but Thursday night he became one of the most exciting. Donnell caught three touchdown passes in the first half against the Redskins as the Giants raced out to a 21-7 lead. The tight end had seven catches for 54 yards in all, continuing what has been an outstanding season. He has 25 catches and four touchdowns, creating a huge role for himself in the offense. Donnell is the first Giants tight end to have three touchdown receptions since 1962.
Eli Manning: There is nobody calling for Manning to hit the bench now, after he put together his third straight strong outing. This game against Washington was more than strong, however, as Manning threw for four touchdowns and ran for another. If Manning continues to play like that, they could become a Super Bowl contender. That's a big difference from the first two weeks of the season, when everyone was already counting the Giants out of the playoff race. Overall, Manning was 28-of-39 for 300 yards. Even the interception Manning threw was after a questionable call by the referees the Giants didn't agree with. The last two weeks, Manning has six touchdowns and one interception.
Trumaine McBride: He had one of the biggest plays of the game, turning what could have been seven-point game heading into the half into a 24-7 lead for the Giants at the break. Down 21-7, the Redskins took just four plays to go from their own 20 to the Giants' 23 with 1:24 to go in the second quarter. Cousins hit Logan Paulsen for five yards to the Giants' 18 on a second and seven play, but McBride forced a fumble and recovered it, completely changing the momentum of the game. The Giants ended up kicking a field goal with no time left to put the Giants up 17. It was a huge play in the game at that point. Later, McBride added an interception with less than a minute to go in the third quarter that the Giants turned into another touchdown and a 38-14 lead.
Victor Cruz: He had his second straight 100-yard game after reaching a professional low against the Cardinals in Week 2, when he was booed by the home crowd and had three drops in the fourth quarter of an eventual loss. Cruz had six receptions for 108 yards against Washington. A week earlier, against Houston, he had five catches for 107 yards.
Giants Secondary: For the second straight week, the entire Giants secondary receives Game Balls for their collective performance against the Redskins. McBride, Prince Amukamara, Antrel Rolle and Quintin Demps all had interceptions against Washington. That comes on the heels of the Giants defensive backs intercepting three passes against the Texans last week. McBride had two takeaways and a pass deflection, Amukamara had three tackles and two pass deflections, Rolle had two tackles and a pass deflection and Demps had seven tackles and two pass deflections. The Giants had eight pass knockdowns in all.
Read our Giants-Redskins game breakdown here.