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Redskins-Giants takeaways: Washington finds another new starting QB in blowout loss

Josh Johnson throws a pass during the fourth quarter. ( Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
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Here are four takeaways from the Redskins’ 40-16 loss to the Giants.

Mark Sanchez didn’t stand a chance: Injuries along the offensive line led Redskins Coach Jay Gruden to start a pair of tackles by trade, Austin Howard and Ty Nsekhe, at right and left guard, respectively. The experiment didn’t work out well, least of all for Sanchez, who was making his first start since 2015. Sanchez was sacked five times, including three times in the first half. When he wasn’t facing pressure in the pocket, Giants defenders were in his passing lanes. A tipped pass led to New York’s first score, a nine-yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Curtis Riley in the first quarter. Sanchez’s receivers didn’t do him any favors, with Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson combining to drop his first three attempts. Before being replaced by Josh Johnson late in the third quarter, Sanchez completed 6 of 14 passes for 38 yards and a pair of interceptions.

Another starting quarterback change: Sanchez started out of necessity after Alex Smith and Colt McCoy were lost for season with broken legs in the span of three weeks. The Redskins will make another change for Week 15, with Gruden saying after the game that Johnson would get the start against Jacksonville. For those keeping score, that game will mark the Redskins’ fourth different starting quarterback in five weeks, and 19th starting quarterback since 1999. Despite having not appeared in a game since 2013 and not attempting a pass since 2011, Johnson, who was signed last week, led a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives and looked sharp doing it. Granted, New York led 40-0 when Johnson entered the game, but the veteran completed 11 of 16 passes for 195 yards, a 79-yard touchdown pass to Crowder and one interception. Most importantly given the state of Washington’s offensive line, he demonstrated an ability to scramble, running seven times for 45 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown.

The defense was atrocious: The Redskins needed a dominating defensive effort if they were to overcome the limitations of a Sanchez-led offense, especially with Adrian Peterson (10 carries for 16 yards) unable to find daylight behind a patchwork offensive line. They didn’t get it. The Giants scored 40 points for the first time since 2015, and remarkably, they did it without Odell Beckham Jr., who sat out with an injury. Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley, who was limited to 38 yards rushing in the teams’ first meeting, had 159 yards rushing by halftime, including a 78-yard touchdown run. New York outgained Washington 284-51 and scored on five consecutive possessions in the second quarter en route to building a 34-0 halftime lead, the Redskins’ worst halftime deficit at home since at least 1940. Kyle Lauletta, the Giants’ rookie quarterback out of Richmond, came on in relief of Eli Manning at the start of the fourth quarter and failed to complete a pass in five attempts, or the final numbers would’ve been even worse.

So many penalties: Washington might’ve lost Sunday had it played penalty-free football, but the 135 yards worth of yellow flags that littered the FedEx Field turf added to one of, if not the ugliest, losses of Gruden’s tenure. The Redskins’ 15 penalties were their most in a game that ended in regulation since 1971. Washington’s infractions ran the gamut, from a pair of false starts on Morgan Moses and a couple of illegal substitutions, to a questionable pass interference call on Fabian Moreau and a foolish taunting penalty on Josh Doctson with the Redskins trailing by 24 points in the fourth quarter. Early in the first quarter, a rarely seen illegal fair catch penalty on Washington’s Greg Stroman was declined, but only because one of his teammates was flagged for holding on the same play. This team, which in its Week 9 loss to Atlanta posted its most penalty yards (147) since 1971, might have a discipline problem.

Game highlights and analysis

Final: Giants 40, Redskins 16

The Redskins fall to 6-7 with an ugly loss to the Giants at home.

4th Quarter

Josh Johnson throws an interception: Johnson is, in fact, human. Giants safety Michael Thomas intercepted Johnson in the end zone one play after a 31-yard completion to Josh Doctson put the Redskins in position to cut further into New York’s lead. Washington had a first-and-goal on the play that ended in Johnson’s interception and it would have started inside the 5-yard line, but Doctson was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct for poking Giants linebacker Tae Davis in the facemask after his catch. The Redskins have been penalized 14 times for 130 yards. (Giants 40, Redskins 16, 4:24 4th Quarter)

Josh Johnson connects with Jamison Crowder for 79-yard touchdown: Hey, this Josh Johnson can play. On first-and-25 from inside his own 10-yard line, Johnson scrambled for 13 yards. On the next play, he completed a pass to Jamison Crowder on an underneath route, and Crowder did the rest, lulling Kamrin Moore to sleep with a stutter step along the sideline before blowing past the rookie for a career-long 79-yard touchdown catch. Johnson completed a two-point conversion pass to Michael Floyd, and just like that, it’s a three-score game. Heh. (Giants 40, Redskins 16, 8:48 4th Quarter)

Redskins get the ball back: The Redskins’ defense is finding the going a little easier against Kyle Lauletta than they did against Eli Manning. The rookie is still looking for the first completion of his career after a second consecutive three-and-out. Washington will get the ball back at own 23-yard line with plenty of time to, well, see what Josh Johnson can do. Given his mobility, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Johnson start next week against the Jaguars. (Giants 40, Redskins 8, 10:37 4th Quarter)

There goes the shutout: The Redskins took advantage of the short field created by Mason Foster’s interception and a roughing-the-passer penalty to avoid being blanked at home. On third-and-four from the Giants’ 8-yard line, Josh Johnson dropped back, tucked the ball and ran, dove across the goal line to a smattering of cheers.  The Redskins committed a delay of game on their ensuing two-point conversion before Johnson found Vernon Davis in the back of the end zone. (Giants 40, Redskins 8, 11:56 4th Quarter)

Kyle Lauletta makes his Giants debut, throws an interception: Giants rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta, a fourth-round pick out of Richmond, replaced Eli Manning with New York leading 40-0 in the fourth quarter. Mason Foster intercepted Lauletta’s second attempt, giving the Redskins the ball at the Giants’ 33-yard line and a decent chance to avoid their first home shutout since 2014. (Giants 40, Redskins 0, 14:01 4th Quarter)

3rd Quarter

Josh Johnson provides a spark, but drive ends without points: The Redskins moved 50 yards on 11 plays on Johnson’s first drive. He completed 4 of 6 passes for 31 yards and ran four times for 19 yards, but he was brought down short of the line to gain on a fourth-and-two scramble at the Giants’ 22-yard line. (Giants 40, Redskins 0, End of 3rd Quarter)

Josh Johnson replaces Mark Sanchez at quarterback: Sure. Johnson, who hadn’t thrown a pass in a regular season game since 2011, completed his first attempt on Sunday, a four-yard gain on an out route to Vernon Davis. Sanchez finishes his day 6 for 14 for 38 yards and two interceptions. (Giants 40, Redskins 0, 4:45 3rd Quarter)

Giants extend lead to 40-0: Sterling Shepard’s second touchdown of the game gave Eli Manning his second three-touchdown game of the season and New York a 40-0 lead. Aldrick Rosas missed the ensuing extra point. In other news, Josh Johnson was warming on the Redskins’ sideline. (Giants 40, Redskins 0, 5:38 3rd Quarter)

Mark Sanchez is taking a beating, and not only on the scoreboard: The Redskins QB sandwiched an eight-yard completion to Vernon Davis between two sacks on Washington’s first possession of the second half. Sanchez has now been sacked five times. The Fox broadcast crew is wondering if Sanchez’s backup, the recently signed Josh Johnson, might get a look if the Redskins’ offense continues to struggle. (Giants 34, Redskins 0, 11:18 3rd Quarter)

Jordan Reed will not return: The tight end, who limped off the field with a foot injury in the first quarter, is out for the remainder of the game. This is probably for the best.

Redskins’ defense finally gets a stop: Preston Smith dropped Saquon Barkley for a loss of six yards on New York’s first play of the second half and the Redskins forced a three-and-out for the first time since the first quarter. The Giants had scored three touchdowns and two field goals on their previous five possessions. (Giants 34, Redskins 0, 13:28 3rd Quarter)

Halftime: Giants 34, Redskins 0

One play after Greg Stroman dropped what should have been an interception at the goal line, Aldrick Rosas drilled a 23-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, and not a second too soon for the Redskins. The 34-point deficit is Washington’s largest at halftime in FedEx Field history, surpassing the 31-point deficit the Redskins faced in their 59-28 loss to the Eagles on “Monday Night Football” in 2010. Ah, memories.

All of the stats are ugly for the home team. Mark Sanchez is 5 for 13 for 30 yards and two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown in the first quarter when New York was matching Washington’s offensive futility and it seemed the Redskins might actually have a chance to earn an ugly win. Three of Sanchez’s incompletions were deflected at the line of scrimmage. Four others were dropped. Josh Doctson is the Redskins’ leading receiver with one catch for 10 yards.

Washington’s defense has been just as bad. Saquon Barkley has 10 carries for 159 yards and a touchdown. Eli Manning has completed 10 of 17 passes for 136 yards and two touchdown. All told, the Redskins were outgained 284-51 in the first half. Washington managed two first downs compared to the Giants’ 12 and committed seven penalties for 75 yards.

“This had to be a near-perfect performance by the Redskins,” Fox analyst Daryl Johnston said late in the first half.

It wasn’t. Can the second half possibly be worse? Some fans aren’t sticking around to find out.

2nd Quarter

Bennie Fowler touchdown catch extends Giants’ lead to 31-0: Have we mentioned that Odell Beckham Jr. is out for the Giants with an injury? That explains why guys like Bennie Fowler, who had nine catches coming into Sunday, is catching touchdowns against the Redskins. Fowler’s first touchdown of the season was set up by another huge play by Saquon Barkley, a 52-yard run before the two-minute warning that brought his total to 159. That’s already a career-high. (Giants 31, Redskins 0, 1:48 2nd Quarter)

Giants add another touchdown, take 24-0 lead: At this point, the Redskins will be fortunate to just get out of this game without suffering any more injuries. The Giants capitalized on Mark Sanchez’s second interception, with Eli Manning finding a wiiiiide open Sterling Shepard in the end zone for a touchdown. (Giants 24, Redskins 0, 6:21 2nd Quarter)

Giants take the ball right back with interception: Nothing is going right for the Redskins. Two plays after Saquon Barkley’s touchdown run, Mark Sanchez threw a short pass over the middle behind Jamison Crowder, who tipped the ball into the air and the waiting arms of linebacker Alec Ogletree. The Giants took over at the Redskins’ 18-yard line. (Giants 17, Redskins 0, 7:42 2nd Quarter)

Saquon Barkley’s long touchdown run gives Giants 17-0 lead: Coming into Sunday’s game, the longest run the Redskins’ defense had allowed was 21 yards. It’s now 78 after Saquon Barkley burst through the line and blew past safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for the fifth-longest touchdown run in Giants history. The home team is getting embarrassed. (Giants 17, Redskins 0, 8:42 2nd Quarter)

Redskins punt again: Drops and deflected passes have been the story of the game for Redskins quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is 2 for 8 for six yards and an interception that was returned for a touchdown after another three-and-out possession. Sanchez avoided the rush and appeared to have Jamison Crowder open on third down, but Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree spoiled the play by batting Sanchez’s pass to the ground. (Giants 10, Redskins 0, 8:54 2nd Quarter)

Giants add to lead with field goal: New York threatened to take a two-touchdown lead after Eli Manning dropped a perfect, 30-yard pass into the arms of Corey Coleman down the left sideline. Coleman, who had a step on Fabian Moreau on the play, gave the Giants a first-and-goal at the Washington three-yard line, and then New York showed why it’s still only a 4-8 team. Saquon Barkley was stuffed for no gain on first down and Eli Manning took a 14-yard sack credited to Ryan Kerrigan on the next play. The Giants ultimately settled for a 35-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas. (Giants 10, Redskins 0, 10:38 2nd Quarter)

1st Quarter

Redskins keep going backward: Washington’s first two plays after New York’s pick-six were a four-yard loss on an end-round by seldom used Jehu Chesson and a four-yard loss by Mark Sanchez on a sack. As if third-and-18 wasn’t bad enough, Morgan Moses’s second false start of the game backed the Redskins up five yards more. You will not be surprised to learn that Chris Thompson did not gain the necessary yards on his third-down carry. Washington ran 18 plays in the first half for 35 yards. The Redskins also committed five penalties for 50 yards. (Giants 7, Redskins 0, 0:07 1st Quarter)

Giants score first on interception return for a touchdown: Backed up in his own end zone, Mark Sanchez attempted to hit Maurice Harris on a slant route, but Giants linebacker Kareem Martin deflected the pass at the line of scrimmage. The result was disastrous for Washington, as cornerback Curtis Riley came down with the ball and waltzed into the end zone for the game’s first score. (Giants 7, Redskins 0, 2:45 1st Quarter)

Daron Payne’s sack forces another punt: The Giants moved the ball for the first time in the game, advancing to the Washington 43-yard line after a pass interference penalty on Fabian Moreau. Daron Payne ensured New York would get no closer, sacking Eli Manning on third down at midfield. Riley Dixon then did his best Tress Way impression, dropping a punt that was downed at the two-yard line. (Redskins 0, Giants 0, 3:17 1st Quarter)

Jordan Reed heads to the locker room: The Redskins’ third possession ended with another punt after a false start penalty on Morgan Moses preceded a sack of Mark Sanchez on third-and-long. Washington’s best play of the drive was an 11-yard run by Chris Thompson. Reed limped to the sideline after the next play and appeared to be favoring his foot or ankle as trainers attended to him. On the Giants’ next series, Fox’s cameras showed Reed being led into the locker room. “Wow, it’s unbelievable it keeps happening week after week,” Fox’s Daryl Johnston said of Washington’s injury situation. Yup. (Redskins 0, Giants 0, 5:39 1st Quarter)

Nothing doing offensively for New York: “This has the makings of an old-fashioned NFC East, grind-it-out faceoff,” Fox play-by-play man Chris Myers said during the pregame show. That, or one of the ugliest games in NFC East history. After the Giants went three-and-out on their second possession, these two teams have combined for four punts, four drops and 21 yards of offense in a little more than five minutes of game time. (Redskins 0, Giants 0, 9:24 1st Quarter)

Redskins go three-and-out: The Redskins’ second drive started with yet another drop, this time by Chris Thompson. After an illegal substitution penalty backed Washington up five yards, Sanchez’s next pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage. Sanchez’s first completion of the day came on the next snap, but Thompson was dropped well short of the line to gain. (Redskins 0, Giants 0, 10:32 1st Quarter)

Giants go three-and-out: The Redskins’ defense, which limited Saquon Barkley to 38 yards rushing in Week 8, started strong on Sunday. Josh Norman pushed Barkley out of bounds for a loss of three on New York’s first play and Ryan Kerrigan dropped the rookie for a loss of five yards on second down. Facing third-and-long, Eli Manning dumped a short pass off to Evan Engram and the Giants punted the ball back to Washington. (Redskins 0, Giants 0, 11:16 1st Quarter)

Drops doom the Redskins on first drive: The Giants won the toss and elected to defer, giving the Redskins the ball first. Washington handed the ball off to Adrian Peterson on its first three plays from scrimmage, with Peterson gaining 1, 12 and 1 yards. Jordan Reed then dropped a pass to set up third-and-long, and the Giants brought a blitz. With cornerback Curtis Riley pulling at his ankle, Mark Sanchez stepped up in the pocket and fired a strike to Jamison Crowder, but Crowder couldn’t corral the pass at the sticks. Sanchez needs all the help he can get from his receivers, who are off to a brutal start. (Redskins 0, Giants 0, 12:49 1st Quarter)

Pregame notes

Matt Ioannidis is active for the Redskins after missing Monday’s loss to the Eagles. Injuries along the offensive line have forced Redskins Coach Jay Gruden to get creative. Tackles Austin Howard and Ty Nsekhe will start at right and left guard, respectively. Gruden said he might rotate guards throughout the game.


Washington Redskins (6-6) vs. New York Giants (4-8)
Kickoff: 1 p.m., FedEx Field
TV: Fox | Radio: 630, 980 AM; 92.7, 94.3, 105.9 FM
Line: Giants by 3

After losing quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colt McCoy to broken legs in the span of three weeks, the Redskins turn to Mark Sanchez to keep their fading playoff hopes alive against the resurgent Giants. Sanchez, who completed 13 of 21 passes for 100 yards in relief of McCoy on Monday, will be making his first start since Week 12 of the 2015 season on Sunday at FedEx Field. Look for the Redskins to lean heavily on running back Adrian Peterson, who ran for a season-high 149 yards and scored two touchdowns against the Giants in October.

The Redskins received some good news on Saturday when the Giants announced that wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will miss Sunday’s game with a bruised quad. Washington’s defense will still have to contend with rookie running back Saquon Barkley, who has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in three straight games. The Redskins limited Barkley to 38 yards on the ground in the teams’ first meeting, but Washington’s run defense hasn’t been the same since that game.

NFL Week 14: Cowboys, Eagles look to clarify NFC East picture

The fortunes of both teams have changed dramatically since Washington’s 20-13 win at MetLife Stadium in Week 8. The Redskins have lost four of five to fall out of first-place in the NFC East, while the Giants have resembled a professional football team in winning three of four, including last week’s overtime triumph against the Bears. Washington is looking for its first regular season sweep of New York since 2011.

Pregame reading

Redskins-Giants matchups: Five potential keys to Sunday’s game

With Mark Sanchez under center, Redskins’ QB carousel is spinning again

Mark Sanchez won New York, lost his job and became a punchline. Now he’s back.

‘Nobody should be comfortable at Redskins Park’: After another loss, outrage ensues

Injuries leave the Redskins shuffling at guard

At FedEx Field, foul mouths even worse than foul play

With Mark Sanchez under center, the Redskins’ quarterback carousel is spinning again

Redskins issue statement on Alex Smith amid growing concerns about his recovery

Richard Sherman isn’t buying the Redskins’ reasons for not calling Colin Kaepernick

Redskins move Quinton Dunbar and Trey Quinn to injured reserve