A once promising and opportunistic season for the Washington Redskins came to a bitter end at the hands of the New York Giants (who had nothing to really play for since they were already in the playoffs) on Sunday afternoon in Landover. With racing out to an impressive 6-3-1 record through the season’s first ten games, the Redskins looked to be in good shape heading into the final month-and-a-half of the season. But what followed was an embarrassing and alarming 1-3 sputter over the next four weeks, including an uninspiring performance in a 26-15 home defeat at the hands of the last-place Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football. However, with a convincing 41-21 win over the Chicago Bears on Christmas Eve, the stage was set, heading into the season’s final week bearing simple circumstances. A win over the New York Giants at home would secure a playoff spot for the second consecutive season. A loss would mean watching the playoffs from their living rooms.
The Redskins possessed two formidable advantages heading into the decisive showdown. They were playing in front of their home crowd and the Giants had already clinched a playoff spot and had really nothing left to play for. Entering the game as a 7.5-point favorite, or expected to win by about a touchdown, the Redskins came out flat and quickly fell behind. The only emotion expressed from the Skins seemed to be from Josh Norman. He and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. repeatedly were at each other’s throats the whole game, sometimes not even caring about the current play and instead exchanging jabs, shoves, and words. At halftime, the Redskins trailed 10-0, but the deficit felt to be much larger as the Redskins, led by quarterback Kurt Cousins, could only muster 78 total yards of offense, while the Giants moved the ball at will and amassed 177 yards in the first half. However, in the second half, the Redskins came out looking rejuvenated and played like a team worthy of a playoff spot, as they clawed back and evened the score at ten with 8:13 left in the game on Jordan Reed’s one-yard touchdown reception. The Giants responded with a tiebreaking field goal with 2:12 remaining, but Cousins led the Redskins down the field again. After an eleven-yard completion to Chris Thompson that brought the ball to the Giants’ 43-yard line, the Redskins seemed destined to at least tie the game, as they were a few yards outside of kicker Dustin Hopkins’ field goal range and there was still over a minute left. But on the next play, Cousins stepped forward a few steps and threw a pass deep down the middle of the field as he was hurried by the Giants’ pass rush, and he was intercepted by Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for the second time. After forcing a Giants punt, the Redskins had one final play to go more than 90 yards in order to score an unbelievable touchdown. But after Reed caught a short pass, he attempted to lateral the ball across the field, it was scooped up on a bounce by the Giants’ Trevin Wade and taken in for the 11-yard touchdown, ending the game and the Redskins’ season in the process.