EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — Call it the game that saved the season.
Hyperbole? Maybe. But the Redskins were staring 0-3 in the face with a game on the road against an NFC East rival in a building that’s never been kind to them.
They muffed a punt four plays into the game, fell behind three plays later, lost three defensive starters to injury and trailed 21-9 late in the first half. Yet they won. Somehow.
It wasn’t pretty and they won’t hang this one in a museum. But Washington won in New York for the first time since 2011, holding on for a thrilling 29-27 victory.
It means the Redskins are 1-2 and their hole in the NFC East isn’t as bad as it could be. They snagged a division win. For now, that’s enough.
“Wins in the NFL always feel like the highest of the highs and the lows feel like the lowest of the lows,” Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “Today is no different … I didn’t get to the NFL, and most of these guys didn’t get to the NFL, because they’re mentally weak or unable to ride the highs or the lows.”
Ex-teammate — and current Giants linebacker — Keenan Robinson suggested as much during the week. He even claimed there was infighting during last year’s run to the NFC East title. There might be truth in that — though his old mates took exception to those comments.
But there’s no question the Redskins had to deal with adversity this week. The potential was there for them to crumble under the weight of expectations. At least for this week, it didn’t happen.
“I don’t think it will save the season, but it’s a good start to get back on the right track,” defensive end Chris Baker said. “We let two games slip by us. We had two winnable games and for one reason or another we just couldn’t come out with the big stops we needed to. Today we told each other we’re not leaving New York without a victory.”
That they accomplished it at all was due in part to the defense holding steady in the second half despite missing safety DeAngelo Hall (knee). Cousins hit 21 of 35 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. Rookie linebacker Su’a Cravens and cornerback Quinton Dunbar had critical interceptions of Eli Manning in the second half. It was the second year in a row Dunbar intercepted Manning late in a game.
And with two offensive linemen hurt (Kory Lichtensteiger and Shawn Lauvao) out injured, left tackle Trent Williams moved inside and Ty Nsekhe took over at left tackle. Spencer Long took over at center. They played well. Running back Matt Jones totaled 65 rushing yards on 17 carries (3.8 yards per carry) and they ran the ball 30 times. It all added up to a necessary win. But one that only digs Washington a little bit out of an early hole. There’s work left to be done, players said.
“It’s one win. We still have more losses than we have victories,” Williams said. “We’re not putting our crowns on just yet. But it’s definitely a cool spark and something the team needed.”
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