After three hours of fairly gripping football on Sunday afternoon, the Redskins lost to the Giants thanks largely to that 77-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz in the final 90 seconds. And a huge percentage of post-game chatter from frustrated Redskins fans centered on that play.
Thus, here are some screengrabs and quotes from the key figures, trying to explain exactly what happened.
As you can see above, cornerback Josh Wilson lined up about two yards in front of Cruz, with safety Madieu Williams about 10 yards behind his teammate.
“I saw what the coverage was,” Manning said. “They were mixing [that coverage] in [during] the previous two-minute drive, before halftime. They were playing man, with a safety real tight, kind of doubling Victor on the outside, trying to take away any outside breaking routes.”
But Cruz wasn’t going outside. He was going straight. Within five yards, the receiver already had a step on Wilson.
“Once I heard the play, and then lined up and kind of saw pre-snap what the coverage was going to be, I had a little bit of an idea,” Cruz said. “I just had to execute the route and react to what I saw in front of me.”
Williams barely moved as Cruz covered those first few yards.
“We had him double-teamed,” Coach Mike Shanahan said. “We had two guys double-teamed on that play — [Cruz] and [Hakeem] Nicks. Obviously Cruz did a great job splitting our double-team and making a play….The guys we were focused on, obviously one guy beat us with two guys on him.”
By 10 yards in, Wilson looked to be in trouble, as Cruz turned on the speed.
“Great throw, great route, touchdown,” Wilson said. “I mean, they made a play. At the end of the day, they just made a play, I guess you could say, at the wrong time. They made a play.”
Williams still seemed to be guarding against an outside route, as Manning indicated.
“We had a route where [Cruz] had a seam route, so he just ran right through that double-team — if they were doubling him — and made a great decision,” Manning said. “I saw the coverage and was hoping Victor was going to see it the same way I was.”
“We read the coverage the same way,” Cruz added.
Williams realized what was happening and tried to get over, but it was already too late.
“He was double-covered,” Williams said. “He was able to make a play. They obviously had something dialed up, and they did a great job of executing it. Credit to them. They made plays in the end to win the football game.”
Then it was just a matter of whether Manning would hit Cruz in stride.
“I had good protection and was able to put it up there and he ran under it,” Manning said. “I had to throw it probably a little bit before I wanted to. I kind of threw it very early, and just threw it high and threw it deep. I didn’t see the ball get caught, I just kind of heard the cheer and said that’s probably a good sign.”
Indeed it was, for the Giants, at least.
“It’s just such a helpless feeling for a D-lineman when the ball’s in the air and all you can do is watch it,” Barry Cofield said.
The ball landed right in Cruz’s arms.
“Double-covered, hit it right on the money,” Shanahan said. “Big-time throw.”
“We clicked at the right time,” Cruz said.
The Redskins radio team was not pleased.
“Unbelievable,” Sonny Jurgensen said. “How do you let that man get behind you?”
“You know he can do it, so if you’ve got to be in that prevent or whatever you’ve got to be in, you’ve got to be in it,” Doc Walker said. “You just can’t have a guy beat you over the top without deep help…If the guy makes a great catch, that’s one thing.”
“This was just easy,” Jurgensen agreed.
“Yeah,” Walker said. “Three guys? C’mon, man.”
“Well, he beat Madieu Williams, who was stride-for-stride with Josh Wilson,” Larry Michael said. “The safety had to be a little deeper, and he wasn’t.”
“They made a play, [and] we didn’t execute as well as we’d been doing all throughout the game,” Williams said. “Credit to them.”