- The Washington Times - Friday, November 30, 2012

MetLife Stadium could have been the scene for Robert Griffin III’s greatest NFL triumph (so far). The Washington Redskins had the New York Giants beaten. That is, until Eli Manning found Victor Cruz for a 77-yard touchdown.

“We were supposed to win that game,” defensive end Stephen Bowen said.

The Redskins didn’t. Then they lost the next two and floundered into the bye week. A two-game winning streak has them one victory away from .500 and a shot at redemption Monday night at home against the Giants.

Players remember that Oct. 21 loss all too well, seeing it as both a missed opportunity and a source of confidence going into the rematch.

“You go back and watch the tape, and you feel good about what you’re putting out there. Snap for snap you evaluate, you grade yourself and you feel like you did some things well and you appreciate that,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “But at the same time you still look back and think, ‘What if?’ And the only way to erase that is by winning this week.”

It’s impossible to erase that 27-23 defeat. Had the Redskins beaten the Giants, they would’ve taken over first place in the NFC East.

They’d love nothing better than to be 6-5 right now instead of 5-6. But as the Redskins try to make an improbable playoff run, there’s a long-range benefit in losing at New York in the final minutes.

“You always want to learn from every game, win or loss, and I think you can learn more sometimes in certain instances from a loss than you can from a win” right guard Chris Chester said. “And I think it’s let us know that we’re a talented team and a competitive team in this league.”

That’s the positive. Griffin led a methodical, masterful drive to put his team up 23-20 with 1:32 left on a touchdown pass to Santana Moss.

Up until Manning got the ball back, the Redskins out-gained the Giants, clamped down on a powerful rushing attack and looked like the better team on the field that day.

“Obviously it just shows that we can compete with these guys. They’re the defending Super Bowl champions playing at a high level,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “I think guys have confidence. Not like, ‘Oh, it’s the Giants, they’re hitting on all cylinders.’ Obviously they’re a good team, but you’ve got confidence going into playing them.”

But the value of confidence pales in comparison to the lesson the Redskins learned.

“Finish the game. Play all 60 minutes,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “We can’t talk about shoulda, woulda, couldas. They got the win, we got the ‘L.’”

And not even just because the Giants showed why they’re Super Bowl champions. As Hall said in the days after, the Redskins gave Manning all too easy a play to make.

Most defenders brushed off the play, but Bowen said he still thinks about it.

“Yeah I do. Personally, I do,” he said. “There’s nothing I can really say about it.”

There’s nothing the Redskins can really do about it, either. Except “we can look back at that and use that as kind of a lesson to not let that happen this week,” linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said.

That game was not long ago. So it’s plenty of motivation for the Redskins against the Giants this time around.

“It’s a game we felt we should’ve won and we didn’t win it. So they got the win in their column. We got the loss,” Griffin said. “All you can do is prepare for the next time because we’re not waiting around. We’re prepared for the next time we face them and that way we have that chance.”

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