Eli Manning was off for much of the game Sunday vs the Redskins, but when it mattered the most Manning threw his best pass of the day and changed this week's five key plays from an exercise in negativity and name-calling into a look at the big plays that won the Giants the game.
Here are five key plays that stick out to me. Feel free to let me know your key plays in the comments.
1. Eli Manning connects with Martellus Bennett for a 31-yard gain
This play was on a third-and-one after the Redskins had just held the ball for a long nine-minute drive that resulted in a field goal. After this completion the Giants ran seven more plays and scored their first touchdown. I thought this playsettled the team down and let the defense get some much-needed rest.
2. Linval Joseph forces a fumble on Alfred Morris
This play occurred with eight minutes left in the third quarter and plenty of time left in the game. While this play did not lead to any points, it was the beginning of the end of the Redskins taking care of the football. Despite turning it over only five times (if I remember the statistic from the game properly) heading into this game, the Redskins would spend the rest of the day coughing the ball up to the Giants.
What is overlooked about this play too is that up to this point Alfred Morris had been dominating the game for the Skins, and even though there were still 23 minutes of football to be play, Morris only had 5 of his 22 carries from this point on.
3. Stevie Brown intercepts RGIII, JPP forces a Griffin fumble
When Kenny Phillips went down I did not expect to be including Brown in "The Five Key plays" section in a positive manner very often, but he makes an appearance every week. I'm not sure if he finds the ball, or the ball just finds him, and I don't care. This was a huge play in the game. The previous possession Morris had fumbled the football. Even though neither play put the Redskins in a position they could not overcome. I think it gave the Giants more confidence.
Jason Pierre Paul also knocked loose a fumble to end a promising drive.
4. Eli Manning throws an incomplete pass on 3rd and short from the Giants own 38-yard line
I want to include this play because I thought you might be curious to my reaction to the play call.
I liked the play call a lot, even if I'm the only one. The Giants are a high-risk high-reward offense that thrives on Manning's ability to make (usually) good decisions and most importantly big plays. Eli Manning is an aggressive gun-slinger. It is what is. One of the many reasons Manning has been successful in fourth quarter situations is because he is 100 percent confident in his ability to make any throw in any situation. This philosophy has led to many big plays for the Giants. I think you have to trust him to win the game. Furthermore, in the future teams will have to respect the pass on third and short situations. The Giants are putting on tape that they are never afraid to throw the ball. It's also possible that this eventually could lead to third (or fourth) and short opportunities where teams don't crowd the box and the Giants will have more success with conversions.
The counter-argument is that the team could have run the ball and if they didn't get the first down, run some more clock and punt.
I don't like that call for two reasons. First, there is more than three minutes left in the game, and the Redskins are going to get the football back either way in hurry up mode and plenty of time to score. The Giants trying to waste the clock there might have cost themselves an opportunity to try and counter-punch against the Redskins if the Redskins do score.
Secondly, the Giants are terrible at converting third and short situations. I knew, you knew, the Redskins knew the Giants would run a draw there to Bradshaw for no yards.
The pass to Hakeem Nicks is a pass the Giants complete against man coverage at a very high rate-the problem with the play, to me, was execution, not the actual play call. Just my two cents.
5. Victor Cruz Scored a Huge Touchdown on a 77-yard pass from Eli Manning
6. Bonus.Chase Blackburn makes me throw fits frequently because of how mediocre he can be, but I'm dubbing this guy "The closer" or "The Blind Squirrel"
I'm not sure if he has some sort of clutch gene or is just lucky, but he seems to make big plays in big moments.