After another defensive stand forced a Giants punt, Washington took the ball back with 2:59 to play at their 29-yard line and no timeouts left.
Finding himself in a familiar situation — with the ball in his hands and requiring a fourth-quarter drive for the fifth time this season — Griffin orchestrated another comeback drive. The rookie completed 4 of 6 passes — including a 19-yard pass to Paulsen on fourth and 10 from his 30 — and then connected with Moss on a 30-yard touchdown pass to put his team ahead 23-20 with 1:32 to play.
But Manning — who has orchestrated 22 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career — completed a 77-yard touchdown pass to Cruz, who beat Josh Wilson and Madieu Williams to give the Giants a 27-23 lead with 1:13 left.
“He did it again,” former Giant and current Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “He’s like Joe Montana now. . . . The team has no quit because they have so much faith in him.”
Of the blown coverage,Williams said, “[Cruz] was double-covered, and he was able to make a play. Obviously, Eli had something dialed up, and they did a good job of executing.”
But plenty of time still remained. Although the Redskins had only one timeout, they had shown an ability to score quickly.
“As soon as they scored, I was ready to go back out there and lead another touchdown drive and win the game,” Griffin recounted.
Said left tackle Trent Williams, “They scored, but we still felt like any time [Griffin] has the ball in his hands, we had a chance.”
On their final desperate drive, Griffin connected with Moss on a pass in the middle of the field at the Washington 43-yard line, but Moss was stripped of the ball and Giants cornerback Jayron Hosley, who had given up the touchdown to Moss, recovered to clinch the New York victory.
“It’s just part of the game,” said Moss, who prior to the fumble had three catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns. “I don’t feel well about fumbling. I felt great about the touchdown, but any time you get a chance to make a difference, you try to make a difference. Would I want it to happen a little differently? Yeah. But when you’re fighting, anything could happen. I feel like I lost the fight.”
Washington had little difficulty moving the ball against the Giants, but the team repeatedly struggled to capitalize on opportunities.
The Redskins went 93 yards on their opening drive but had to settle for a field goal after holding the ball for 9:11.
Two plays prior to that field goal, Washington lost Davis to the torn Achilles’ when he went down while running a pass route in the back of the end zone.
“I want to be out there playing and helping my team out,” said Davis, who this season was on a path to redemption after serving a four-game suspension at the end of last season for failing multiple drug tests and had stepped up as a leader while also ranking among the league’s best tight ends. “I had a lot of stuff I wanted to do this year.”
The Redskins, however, still managed to move the ball efficiently on their next possession.
Trailing 7-3 following an 80-yard Giants touchdown drive capped by a one-yard run by Andre Brown, the Redskins marched downfield, dialing up run plays on five of the eight snaps. Washington kept New York off-balance with a succession of option plays.
Griffin had a 30-yard run to the outside during the possession, and Morris had a 28-yard run around the right end as well. The rookie running back finished with 120 yards rushing, his third 100-yard game of the season.
Facing third and seven from the New York 26, Griffin slung a screen pass to Moss on his left, and the veteran wide receiver used his blocks, found an opening and went 26 yards untouched for a score that capped an 80-yard drive and put his team up 10-7 following the point-after attempt.
Washington added another Forbath field goal (from 43 yards), and the Giants added two field goals by Lawrence Tynes (a 27-yarder and 39-yarder) for a 13-13 tie at halftime.