When Robert Griffin III wasn't beating the New York Giants, the Giants were doing their best to beat themselves. But it says a lot about New York that, on a day in which Washington's rookie duo of Griffin and Alfred Morris was superb and Eli Manning wasn't his usual self, they still found a way.
The fourth-quarter play-calling will come under fire this week, as will Manning for a pair of terrible second-half interceptions. But those problems are easier to swallow when you're winning, and the Giants can take solace in the fact that they're able to do so against good teams in less-than-perfect efforts.
The G-men still would have been tied for the division lead with a loss, but with an 0-2 record versus NFC East opponents to start the season, this was crucial.
They looked doomed when Griffin hit Santana Moss for the go-ahead touchdown with less than two minutes to play, but they fought back like Super Bowl teams do, proving again why they're the heavy favorites in this division.
Would it have happened had the 'Skins not turned the ball over four times in the second half (after turning it over only five times all season to that point)? Maybe not. But that doesn't matter now. The Giants didn't outplay Washington Sunday, but they rose up when it mattered most, which is something their NFC East rivals haven't been able to do thus far.
That's what matters.
The Redskins have been leading or tied in the fourth quarter in all seven of their games, yet they've lost four of them. The Eagles have dropped back-to-back games in the final minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime. And the Cowboys botched the final possession in a two-point loss to Baltimore last week.
Are the Giants now in a position to run away with the NFC East?
The Giants did have a hiccup in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, but they've been clutch more often than not when the moment has demanded it.
That happened against the Buccaneers in Week 2, when they scored 25 fourth-quarter points to complete a big comeback. And it happened again Sunday, when—two plays after the Griffin-to-Moss touchdown—Manning and Victor Cruz took advantage of poor coverage to produce the 77-yard score that was the difference.
It happened on defense as well–because that left Griffin one minute and 13 seconds to win it. That's about all he needed to put up seven points on the previous drive, but this time, the Giants made a play on D, with Chase Blackburn forcing a game-clinching fumble.
In both cases, the 'Skins screwed up. But Super Bowl-caliber teams make their opponents pay for such mistakes. The Giants did that, and now they're beginning to pull away as we approach midseason.