Published on: 21st October, 2012
by Scott Mandel
East Rutherford, NJ – It was a game that presented pretty much what you would expect between those long-time NFC East division rivals, the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants. This rivalry, for so many years among the most exciting in sports when their respective sidelines were lead by Hall of Fame caliber coaches Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs in the 1980s and 90s, became dormant during most of this new millennium because of the Redskins’ mostly mediocre performances while the Giants had been consistently contending or winning Super Bowls over the course of the nine years Tom Coughlin has been the Giants head coach.
Well, unless today was nothing more than an exception to what has been mostly Giant dominance this past decade, we should all look forward to a new round of Redskins-Giants games, replete with the clawing and scratching and talking and gesticulating that marked all those great contests when Lawrence Taylor and Darrell Green and Phil Simms and Mark Rypien ruled the fields for these teams.
In front of 80,000 rabid Giants fans at MetLife Stadium this afternoon, the Giants overcame the late-game heroics of the Redskins’ new superstar quarterback to beat back the Skins, 27-23 in what projects as the beginning of a new rivalry to compare to the old one.
It’s been a long time coming for the franchise of Sonny Jurgenson and George Allen and Billy Kilmer and Doug Williams. It’s been painful for their fans in D.C. to watch their once-proud team turned into a mess of poor decisions, mostly by its overzealous owner, Daniel Snyder. After 10 years of losing, Snyder finally decided to stop meddling in personnel decision-making, stop hiring old-time coaches like Joe Gibbs when the game and his passion had passed the old coach by, and brought in a professional winner named Mike Shanahan, only a two-time Super Bowl winner with John Elway’s Denver Broncos. The moment the ink was dry on Shanahan’s signature, everyone around the NFL knew the Skins were on their way back.
Then, on draft day in June, 2012, Shanahan pulled off a trade that may very well be looked at by future NFL historians as the deal that turned a city and a league on its ear. On that faithful day, Shanahan, who had seen enough mediocre quarterbacking in his one year at the helm in Washington between Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman, decided to pull the trigger on one Robert Griffin, III. His name, in itself, may sound like that of some rich Texas oil man’s son, by way of Harvard or Yale but this kid, a graduate of Baylor has turned into the most exciting player in the NFL, with the most exciting nickname, RG3.
Today, he showed the Giants what the next decade or so of competition between these two franchises may very well look like, and, frankly, the Giants players were not as excited by the prospects as Redskins fans and players are.
But, what may take place between these two teams up the road couldn’t stop the Giants own version of superstar quarterback, Eli Manning, from providing the type of late-game fireworks Peyton’s kid brother has now become famous for.
Manning one-upped the Washington Redskins‘ rookie sensation with a pinpoint 77-yard scoring pass to Victor Cruz with 1:13 to play and the New York Giants overcame a late touchdown toss by Griffin to defeat Washington today.
“With our offense and Eli at the helm, we’re never too worried,” Cruz said. “No matter what situation we’re in, no matter how many points we need or a field goal we need, we have the confidence we can do it. We have a lot of confidence in each other, and in Eli.”
The winning drive was the 22nd of Manning’s career in either the fourth quarter or overtime, his second this season and eighth over the past two seasons. This pass might have been one of the most improbable.
It came two plays and 19 seconds after Griffin capped what was a potential winning, 77-yard drive with a 30-yard touchdown toss to Santana Moss. The rookie had kept the drive alive with a 19-yard pass off a desperate scramble on a fourth-and-10 play deep in his own territory, and a 24-yard run on the next play.
“He has done it so many times,” veteran Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty said of the two-time Super Bowl MVP. “He has really bridged his performance in the 2011 season to the 2012 season. It’s just more of the same. He continues to get better. He is probably the most deadly quarterback in the fourth quarter.”
“He sure proved it today,” Shanahan said after his team (3-4) blew a chance to move into a tie for first place in the NFC East. “It was a great throw. He was double- covered but (Manning) put it right on the money.”
Manning, who finished 26 of 40 for 337 yards, had to make the throw a little sooner than he wanted.
“I kind of threw it high and deep and saw the coverage and was hoping Victor saw it the same way I did,” he said. “I didn’t see the ball get caught. I heard the cheer and that was a good sign. I got up in time to see him run into the end zone.”
Manning triumphantly pumped his fist once after the play as the more than 80,000 fans at MetLife Stadium erupted with cheers.
“He did a good job leading his team to victory today,” said Griffin, who ran for 89 yards and passed for 258 and two touchdowns. “When the game is on the line, you want the ball in your hand, no doubt about it. He made the play to win it.”
“There’s no excuse for them, but with all that stuff, we had a chance to win at the end,” Griffin said.
And, that’s exactly the point. This kid with the rich kid’s name looks to be the type of player who will always give his team a chance to win at the end, and in so doing will be driving rivalries to their former glories.