- - Sunday, October 28, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The trip to metropolitan New York was more like a trek to sunny Jamaica for Washington. In continuing to rebound from a so-so start to the season, Jay Gruden’s bunch dispatched the Giants and epitomized the island-nation’s well-worn motto:

“No problem.”

That’s the story and we’re sticking to it. After winning for just the third time in nine visits to MetLife Stadium, after tightening its grip on the NFC East, after constructing the rare three-game winning streak under Gruden, Washington gets an “A” for its 20-13 victory against the hapless Giants.

No complaints allowed.

You say New York cracked the end zone with 17 seconds remaining, spoiling the defense’s effort to pitch a touchdown shutout? Oh well. Even garbage teams can notch a score in garbage time.

You point to Washington’s meager scoring punch before Adrian Peterson raced 64 yards for a touchdown with three minutes left? It happens. A.P. said he’s used to “famine, famine, feast.” Feed him long enough and he’s going to burp eventually.

You noticed miscues that got the offense off schedule and infractions that netted big gains for the Giants? Whatever. Washington did just enough when it counted most and held on the rest of the time. Excellent.

Undoubtedly there’s room for improvement and Gruden will have a list of concerns as the team prepares to host Atlanta. But the same would be true after a flawless game, because that’s the nature of football. A coach who doesn’t have something to point out and gripe about should turn in his headset.

Just don’t look for any criticism here, not today. Ugly, pretty, or pretty ugly, Washington took care of business at a stadium where it seldom prevails.

New York’s Odell Beckham Jr. had eight catches for 136 yards? Hooray! The Giants’ sensational rookie halfback had nine receptions to lead all players? Yippee! Washington quarterback Alex Smith failed to pass for at least 200 yards for the third consecutive game (all victories)? Yay!

Beggars can’t be choosy, and Washington has panhandled too long to pick nits about what’s in the cup. In years past, a hole would’ve developed after the Monday Night Annihilation in New Orleans.

“I like the way we’re playing and competing,” Gruden said. “After the Saints game, it could’ve gone a lot of different ways. But the leaders stepped up and said ‘enough’s enough.’”

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, the team went to work and made its own breaks against Carolina, Dallas and New York. The latter might be the NFL’s worst squad, but so what? It’s not like losing to similar outfits has been unheard of recently.

“We were supposed to win this game,” safety D.J. Swearinger said after recording two interceptions against sad-sack Eli Manning. “We’re supposed to beat a team that’s 1-7. We’re supposed to blow them out, truthfully.”

That would’ve been nice. It would’ve spared fans the consternation of watching New York pull to within 13-6 with four minutes left in the game. Washington failed to put the Giants away early, but Peterson had no problem pulling away late. On the possession after New York’s second field goal, he burst through a gigantic hole and raced down the right sideline. He was horse-collared in the end zone, too late.

Peterson had fumbled earlier in the game, but he also caught a 7-yard touchdown pass for the first score, brushing linebacker Nate Stupar aside like an annoying fly. The ageless runner continues to be the most amazing part of the team — on offense.

But once again, the other side of the ball proved itself as Washington’s strength. Manning was sacked seven times overall as four different defenders got home, led by Matt Ioannidis with 2.5 and Ryan Kerrigan with 1.5. Barkley was held to 38 yards rushing and New York converted just two of 14 third-down attempts.

Those are the areas to focus on right now. The suffocating defense. Peterson’s running. Tress Way’s punting. Wideout Josh Doctson’s emergence.

The shortcomings can and will be addressed later this week. No one in the locker room feels like the team has arrived, but everyone can enjoy its present location.

“We ain’t done nothing yet,” Swearinger said. “We’re just getting started. We’re just turning the stove on. We ain’t even put the grease in yet.”

Some of the ingredients might be suspect and the chef isn’t world-renowned, so we don’t know how the meal will turn out. But there’s no carping about the cooking methods after Sunday. For now, it’s two thumbs up.

No worries. No problems.

No kidding.

⦁ Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.


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