- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2011

First quarter

Well, that didn’t take long. The Redskins extended two dubious streaks on the game’s first play, when Rex Grossman was intercepted on a flea-flicker. That made it 28 straight games with a turnover for the Skins and 10 straight with an interception for Grossman. But overall, the quarter went pretty well. On the only full drive that didn’t end with an interception on the first play (Grossman threw another “pick” later), Washington got a 36-yard field goal. Grossman was 4-for-5 for 34 yards on the drive. And the Redskins were driving for an eventual touchdown as the quarter ended, converting a fourth-and-1 in the process. They got a break when Hakeem Nicks dropped a pass from Eli Manning that would have been a touchdown. Washington possessed the ball for 11 minutes in the quarter. Manning didn’t complete a pass, and New York kept a streak alive, too. It has trailed in all 14 games this season.

Second quarter

So which of these teams has a shot at the playoffs? You sure couldn’t tell it was the Giants by watching the second quarter, though the final minute definitely went New York’s way, and may prove to be huge. The Giants stopped the Redskins on fourth-and-1 and drove downfield for a 40-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes. It was their only trip into Redskins territory of the half and it cut their deficit to 17-3 at halftime. They spent most of the quarter doing nothing on either side of the ball. On offense, they had  three punts and an intercpetion on their first four possessions. The Redskins got two touchdowns in the quarter. First, Grossman and Santana Moss connected for a 20-yard score. That was followed by a 6-yard run by Darrel Young. It was the fullback’s  first touchdown of the season. A big play in the form of an interception by free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe off a deflection set up Young’s score.

Third quarter

The Redskins went into the final quarter with a 17-point lead that was destined to grow, given that the third quarter ended with the ball on the Giants’ 7. Earlier, just when it looked like New York might make a game of it, Stephen Bowen broke through and sacked Manning for an 8-yard loss on third down. That led to a 44-yard field goal attempt  that missed. Because of that, instead of being within 10, New York found itself down 23-3 after one play of the fourth quarter when Graham Gano hit his third field goal of the game. Whatever momentum New York had gained with its late score in the first half was gone. On the second play of the second half, DeAngelo Hall intercepted Manning. That set up a 43-yard field goal by Gano for a 20-3 lead. An interesting note from the first three quarters: The Redskins went into the final quarter without having to punt. Washington also had been penalized just once — for 5 yards.

Fourth  quarter

This is how you pretty much dominate an NFL game: You make plays when you need them, you get a break or two and you don’t let your mistakes cause  too much damage. One sequence in the final quarter highlighted all that. A pass interference penalty set New York up on Washington’s 1. A subsequent third-down touchdown pass to D.J. Ware was overturned because Ware did not have possession when he was pushed back from the goal line. The Giants then had a touchdown pass nullified on fourth down by a holding penalty. On the second try to convert the fourth down, Ryan Kerrigan sacked Manning. It was that kind of day for the Giants — and the Redskins. After Gano’s field goal on the first play of the quarter, Josh Wilson intercepted Manning in the end zone. It was Washington’s third interception of the day. New York finally scored a touchdown in the game’s final minute. Way too little, way too late.

Key play

Where to begin on a day when the Redskins had a season’s worth of big plays? Let’s try this one: Third quarter, Washington was up 20-3 but New York looked headed for a touchdown. On third-and-6 from the Redskins’ 18, Stephen Bowen sacked Eli Manning for an 8-yard loss. That brought out Lawrence Tynes for a 44-yard field goal try. Very makeable, but better than a touchdown. Except Tynes missed, and Washington drove for a field goal of its own. Instead of being up 10 with plenty of time left, Washington was up 20 with less than a quarter left.

• Mike Harris can be reached at mharris@washingtontimes.com.

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