You could feel the desperation in the short week. What should have been a fifth win of the season in New Orleans made the game against the Giants a must win. It wasn’t pretty, but the Redskins were able to make it happen. Ryan Kerrigan was in Pro Bowl form against Chad Wheeler with two sacks and pushing the rookie into Eli Manning’s lap all night. Kirk Cousins led the Redskins to his 11th game-winning drive since he took over the starting job in 2015. Code red is still in full effect, but the playoff window is back to being slightly cracked open thanks to a 10-20 win over the Giants on Thanksgiving night.
Player of the Game
I cannot give this honor to one player. Yes, Kirk does deserve praise and credit for leading his team to victory in the 4th quarter. But, it was Ryan Kerrigan and a team defense effort that kept the Redskins in the game. The offense was ugly and inconsistent in the first half. The defense was superb and needed to be for the full sixty minutes, and they did not let the team down.
Latest @Jeep Video: @thecooleyzone tells @kevins980 the #Redskins defensive effort was BIG-TIME in their Thanksgiving win over the #Giants pic.twitter.com/bRuMXC5ebs
— ESPN 980 (@espn980) November 24, 2017
Passing Game: C+
Drops became an issue once again. The receiving core has been mediocre at best this season and continued it against the Giants. Vernon Davis completely disappeared as Niles Paul received the second most targets on the team with 5. Throughout the game, the receivers, for what ever reason, could not get separation against an underwhelming secondary.
The offensive line also showed its wear and tear as Cousins was sacked 6 times and hit 7. They were without Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long and Trent Williams. Morgan Moses continues to show that he has been invaluable as he is the only lineman that has started all 11 games (one of three Redskins to do so).
What would a passing grade discussion be without Cousins. Kirk had one of his best games of his career despite the lack of help early on. He did throw an interception, however, that one was not on him. If you watch closely to the replay, his left foot gets caught in the grass which forced the inaccurate throw. Cousins is starting to get a feel for off script plays, something that he was criticized for last year. On the Jamison Crowder touchdown pass he was flushed to his right and forced to buy time. That allowed for Crowder to find a place to sit in the end zone.
Kirk’s final line was 19 of 31 for 242 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. And, as mentioned before, his 11th game winning drive since he took over the starting job in 2015. The Redskins are surely going to miss him if they cannot sign him to a long-term deal.
Running Game: B
No Rob Kelley and no Chris Thompson, so you would expect the first half running game to be ugly. So much to the point of some calling for the Redskins to abandon the running game entirely. However, the offensive line was able to come together and help Samaje Perine put together his second career 100-yard game of his career and the first time a Redskins’ Running Back has put up back to back 100-yard games since Alfred Morris in 2013. The fact that Gruden was willing to stay with the run in the second half shows that he is starting to trust Perine more and more even with a duct tape line.
Astonishing. That is the word that comes to mind in the bounce back performance last night. Now, it wasn’t like the Redskins were playing the “Greatest Show on Turf,” but the defense came to play last night. The run defense held the Giants to 3.5 yards per carry. The pass defense held Manning to a QBR of 6.3 and a passer rating of 44.2.
Ryan Kerrigan was certainly the MVP of the defense continuously putting pressure on Manning. Beshaud Breeland has continued his resurgent season. Kendall Fuller might be the most underrated nickel Cornerback in the league the way he reads routes and has a knack for coming up big. I could keep going player by player on how well they played, but the article would get too long. This was an all-around team defense effort and win that will need to show up for the final 5 games of the year.
Special Teams: C+
If Ryan Kerrigan was the defensive MVP of the Redskins for the entire game, Tress Way was the MVP of the first half. In a game where there were more punts than points scored in the first 30 minutes, Way’s ability to place the ball to the Redskins defensive advantage was crucial. At the end of the day, Way had 7 punts with 4 of them landing inside the 20 and 2 inside the 10. However, the punting game wasn’t all pretty.
Just being promoted off the practice squad, Pete Robertson had the bone headed play of the game. On a punt that was destined to be inside the 20, Robertson decided to take the ball and run it into the end which calls for it to be a touchback and placed at the 20. Quinten Dunbar was clearly furious about this gaff, but this is what can be expected when you have guys that have not played an NFL snap before. The lack of focus and potential of this hurting the Redskins is why this grade is so low.
It is Dallas week. The Redskins head to the Cowboys for another Thursday night game in primetime. The Cowboys are as desperate as the Redskins to get a win and stay relevant in the playoff picture. Even as bad as both teams played Thursday, this has all the markings for a classic NFC East showdown.
Next Game: Redskins (5-6) at Cowboys (5-6) 8:25PM (NBC)