Coach Mike Shanahan’s bunch was at its low point after losing to Carolina, which then had only one victory, on Nov. 4. It seemed the season was all but over. A month later, the Redskins are among the NFL’s hottest teams and, in second place in the NFC East, very much in the playoff discussion.
Although no one knows where this once-improbable run will end, Griffin is determined to keep it going all the way to the postseason. Against the Giants, he got a lot of help from the defense, Washington’s offensive line and the team’s top playmakers on offense. It was one of those victories coaches love because of all the things that went right.
Let’s look closer at some of what went right for the Redskins on “Monday Night Football.”
Again, the statistics were outstanding: eight receptions, 106 yards and one touchdown. That’s what Garcon did against the Giants while continuing his improbable in-season resurgence.
This is the same guy who was hobbling around for weeks with a painful toe injury? Give Garcon credit for battling through his injury, which, the Redskins say, would have led many players to season-ending injured reserve.
The Redskins’ offense has been so much more explosive the past two games (remember how Garcon torched the Cowboys?), in large part, because of Garcon’s ability to beat zone or man-to-man coverage on deep balls and crossing routes. Seeing Garcon on the field inspires both Griffin and play-caller Kyle Shanahan.
It’s not that Griffin and Shanahan lack confidence in the rest of the receiving corps. They just believe Garcon is special. That’s why Shanahan called a deep pass to Garcon on the first play from scrimmage. Griffin and Garcon failed to connect. The Redskins, however, quickly established that their best deep threat was ready to go. As it turned out, he certainly was.
The Redskins rank 31st out of 32 teams in pass defense. Entering the game, Washington was one of only two teams (last-place Tampa Bay is the other) to give up an average of more than 300 yards passing per game. And the Redskins’ secondary has been especially vulnerable to deep balls: It had given up 41 passes of at least 20 yards, tied for the NFL’s 11th-highest total. Included on the long list was Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s 77-yard, fourth-quarter strike to Victor Cruz that provided the winning margin in New York’s 27-23 victory over the Redskins in October.