- The Washington Times - Monday, September 14, 2009

First quarter

What happened: After the opening kickoff, Eli Manning led the Giants on a 12-play, 67-yard scoring drive, which included a mix of short passes, bruising runs and a deep pass to a wide-open Mario Manningham. Washington stuffed them in the red zone to force a field goal. The Redskins got off to a fast start with a Clinton Portis 34-yard run around left end on the team’s first offensive play. But they negated that with a busted pass attempt by Antwaan Randle El on the next play and had to punt two plays later. The Giants got the ball back and went back to hard runs by Brandon Jacobs and precision passing by Manning.

Analysis: Two things jump out from the defensive performance, and neither has to do with great plays made by the team’s big additions; instead it came from the holdovers. First, Carlos Rogers had an interception in his hands and dropped it, as he has done time and again in his career. Second, LaRon Landry was penalized for a late hit out of bounds, with the extra 15 yards landing the Giants in the red zone.

Second quarter

What happened: On the first play of the quarter, Washington stuffed Brandon Jacobs on fourth-and-1 on the 3. After the Redskins punted, the Giants swiftly took it down the short field for a touchdown, ending with a Manning-to-Manningham 30-yard strike. Miscues by Jason Campbell ended the Redskins’ next two drives: an interception on the first drive, then a fumble on the next, which Osi Umenyiora took back for a touchdown. Then the Redskins tried some trickery: Holder (and punter) Hunter Smith took the snap on a field goal attempt and ran it around right end for 8 yards to put Washington on the board.

Analysis: The fake field goal helped erase what otherwise was a miserable quarter for the Redskins. Campbell was hurried, got hit and made two mistakes that cost the team, the worst being the fumble. He twice left the ball unprotected while dropping back, and Umenyiora got to it the second time.

Third quarter

What happened: The Redskins opened with a long drive, eating more than five minutes, but had to settle for a punt (and a short one - 35 yards - at that). The Giants got to their punt much more quickly, needing only four plays after hitting rookie Hakeem Nicks for an 11-yard gain on first down. Washington kept its drive alive by challenging a Chris Cooley fumble (and ensuing Giants score) that replay overturned but eventually punted. DeAngelo Hall intercepted Manning two plays later, though, and Washington put three more points on the board four plays later.

Analysis: Washington controlled the clock for the third quarter but came away with only three points to show for it. More important, the Redskins didn’t allow New York to score and remained down only a touchdown after three quarters. Hall’s interception was key - that’s what Washington paid him big money in the offseason to do. But the offensive line still didn’t create enough holes for Portis or give Campbell enough time to work.

Fourth quarter

What happened: The Giants finished the long drive they started in the third with a 45-yard field goal to give them a 10-point lead. Devin Thomas ran into his blockers on an end around on Washington’s first play on the ensuing drive, and the Redskins punted after a three-and-out. The Giants answered with a 10-play scoring drive that ate up more than six minutes and ended with another field goal, making it 23-10. Washington answered with its most efficient drive of the night as Campbell threw seven passes in a row, including a 17-yard touchdown to Chris Cooley. But all the Giants had to do was run out the clock.

Analysis: Manning victimized the Redskins’ secondary. Landry had a key missed tackle - another of his headfirst wrestling moves for the highlight reel - on New York’s first scoring drive. Steve Smith roasted Hall for a long gain on third down. And Rogers was called for illegal contact two plays later, good for an automatic first down. Manning went 5-for-7 on the Giants’ final scoring drive for 76 yards. Washington, meanwhile, had no rhythm until its final drive - too little, too late.

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