Redskins step up to challenge in 17-16 win over Giants

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

Washington moves one-game back of New York in NFC East

On the final play that mattered, Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty grabbed a piece of Alfred Morris' body near the line of scrimmage. And it didn't matter. Morris slipped through, as he had done all night, picking up six yards on a third-and-3 as the crowd roared its approval. Fullback Darrel Young punched his fist in the air several times celebrating what this play meant: a victory.

In yet another must-win game, the Redskins did just that, beating the visiting New York Giants 17-16 to reach .500 and stay in the playoff hunt. The win left them one game behind the Giants with four to play. The Redskins trail Seattle by one game in the NFC for the final wild-card spot as well. The Redskins have not made the playoffs since 2007. This is the first time they've been at .500 in December since 2008.

"You can just feel the atmosphere in this locker room," Morris said. "Our playoff hopes are still alive."

It was one of the more intense atmospheres in several years for a Redskins home game, with chants of "RGIII! RGIII!" before the game. The parking lots were jammed early with tailgaters. It felt like a playoff game because of the importance for both teams. But while New York controlled the clock, the Redskins big plays won the game.

"This is one of my favorite wins ever," Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield said. "... A lot of hope. A lot of optimism, [but] we still feel like we're underdogs. That's a good thing."

The Redskins were driving for a potential go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter when linebacker Chase Blackburn poked the ball free from Morris. The Giants recovered at their own 9-yard line. They followed with a long drive, capped by a 35-yard field goal for a 16-10 lead.

But the Giants let the Redskins hang around and this was the result: a touchdown drive punctuated by an 8-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Pierre Garcon. Griffin's play fake froze the linebackers, and Garcon was able to sneak behind them on a crossing pattern for the score.

The Giants dominated the first half in time of possession (20:32) and yards (273-156), but only managed a 13-10 lead thanks to a 40-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal at the first-half buzzer.

"You guys can calculate the stats," Redskins corner Josh Wilson said. "We'll calculate the win."

Washington stayed in the game thanks to big plays. The Redskins answered Tynes' first field goal with a touchdown drive for a 7-3 lead. And they didn't waste time, needing only four plays to travel 80 yards. A 25-yard pass to Garcon, a 19-yard Morris run followed by an 8-yard run. Then came the odd play: a 12-yard Griffin run in which he fumbled just before he hit the ground while sliding. The ball bounced up and to the left where Joshua Morgan caught it and ran the final 16 yards for a touchdown.

New York had taken a 3-0 lead on its first drive. The Giants had a first and 10 at the 23, but a false start put them in a hole and they didn't recover. Tynes kicked a 39-yarder.

The Redskins' rookie backfield were impressive again. Morris carried 22 times for 124 yards, and Griffin threw for 163 yards and rushed for another 72.

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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