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Hail or Fail: Redskins’ defensive front held a party in the Giants' backfield

Eli Manning, sacked again. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
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A look at the good (Hail!) and bad (Fail!) from the Redskins' 20-13 win over the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Hail: The Redskins' Defense

How’s your Monday going? Better than Eli Manning’s, I’d hope and bet. The Giants quarterback probably struggled to get out of bed after being sacked seven times on Sunday. Through eight games, Manning has been sacked 31 times, which equals the second-most times he’s been sacked in an entire season during his 15-year career. Matt Ioannidis was credited with a team-high 2½ sacks for the Redskins, who last registered at least seven sacks when they had 10 in a 2014 win over the Jaguars. The only other time the Redskins had at least seven sacks against the Giants on the road was in 1984, when they somehow managed to lose by 24 points. For the first time in years, Washington’s defensive front, led by Ioannidis, the “Alabama Wall” of Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne and outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, is a strength of the team. After shutting down Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliott, the Redskins limited Giants rookie Saquon Barkley to 38 yards rushing Sunday; they still have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season.

Fail: Garbage Time Touchdowns

In Week 1, the Cardinals scored with five minutes remaining in Washington’s blowout win to extend the Redskins' streak without a shutout to an NFL-long 428 games. On Sunday, Evan Engram caught a two-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds remaining that gave the Giants a reason to attempt a desperation onside kick and made the tight end’s fantasy owners happy. Until Engram’s touchdown, the Giants were in danger of being shut out of the end zone by the Redskins at home for only the third time in their series history and the first time since Nov. 14, 1976. (Incidentally, the Redskins lost that game, 12-9, as Joe Danelo won the field goal battle against Mark Moseley.) This is nitpicking, sure, but it’s hard to find much other fault in the Redskins' defensive performance against the Giants.

Hail: Tress Way’s Acting Chops

With Washington leading 13-3 midway through the fourth quarter, Way went down hard after Giants linebacker Tae Davis made contact with him on a punt. Davis was called for running into the kicker, a five-yard penalty that resulted in a Redskins first down.

“Jay [Gruden] told me after I got hit against New Orleans, I need to milk it a little more, take some acting classes,” Way told NBC Sports Washington’s J.P. Finlay after the game of his tumble. “The wife and I watch the Oscars every year. Today, I tried it and it backfired. They had to put me in the concussion protocol. I didn’t know what to do. I got put in the protocol because my head hit the turf. I went in the protocol, came out, I got a little thug limp, and I’m ready to roll.”

Kicker Dustin Hopkins was prepared to kick in Way’s absence after Washington’s drive stalled a second time, but Way was cleared to return to the game just in time. He proceeded to drill a 58-yarder, and after having a career-high five punts downed inside the 20 against the Cowboys, is punting at a Pro Bowl level.

“I’d have a tough time imagining that the Pro Bowl is more fun than what we’ve got going on right now,” Way said.

Fail: Washington’s 5-2 History

As you’ve no doubt heard, the Redskins are 5-2 for the first time since 2008. Hip hip hooray, right? Well, the last time the Redskins started 5-2, they won their next game to improve to 6-2 before finishing the season 8-8 and missing the playoffs entirely. Now, Jay Gruden isn’t Jim Zorn and Washington seems every bit as likely to finish 14-2 this year as 8-8, but just remember there’s a lot of football left to be played. The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles still will have something to say about the NFC East after evening their record at 4-4 with a win over Jacksonville in London. The Redskins are 2-0 in the division for the first time since 2010; their first meeting with Philadelphia is in Week 13.

“We haven’t won this division yet,” D.J. Swearinger, who had two interceptions, said. “We haven’t won a playoff. We haven’t won a Super Bowl. We haven’t really done nothing yet. We’re just turning the stove on. Haven’t put the grease in yet.”

Hail: Adrian Peterson

The 33-year-old is a machine. While rushing for 149 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, Peterson passed Tony Dorsett to move into ninth place on the all-time rushing list. He also matched a guy named Barry Sanders with his 15th career rushing touchdown of at least 50 yards on a 64-yard score that sealed the game in the fourth quarter.

“You know, it has been a long drought since I broke one,” Peterson said after the game. “Guys kept saying, ‘Keep eating. Keep getting it. You’ll break one.’ Felt good to break through and to come back and refocus."

Peterson, who has worked to become a better pass-catching weapon in Washington, opened the scoring with a seven-yard touchdown catch, only the sixth of his career.

Fail: Injured Trent Williams

Peterson did a lot of his damage without his former Oklahoma teammate leading the way. Williams was a one-man wrecking ball on the Redskins' first touchdown drive, swallowing would-be Giants tacklers with lead blocks on back-to-back 10-yard runs by Chris Thompson and Peterson. The Redskins' left tackle would leave the game with a dislocated right thumb after getting it caught in a face mask and was on the sideline for Peterson’s long touchdown run. Williams was sporting a hard cast on his right hand after the game and said it was too soon to know his status for next week’s game against the Falcons.

Redskins will have to wait and see on Trent Williams’s thumb

Hail: Alex Smith Not Committing Turnovers

As they have in every game during their three-game winning streak, the Redskins won the turnover battle against the Giants, and Smith was a big reason. The Redskins quarterback caught a break when B.J. Goodson let a ball that deflected off Jordan Reed’s shoulder pads slip through his hands and again on a deep ball intended for Paul Richardson Jr. that was much closer to being an interception than a completion. Still, the fact remains that Smith attempted 32 passes without a pick, did not fumble and has not committed a turnover since Week 5 against the Saints.

Fail: Alex Smith Not Completing Deep Passes

Smith drew a 40-yard pass interference call on a deep pass intended for Richardson, but his longest completion of the game went for 25 yards. Josh Doctson led all Redskins wide receivers with five catches for 49 yards, while tight end Jordan Reed added seven catches for 38 yards. Washington has demonstrated that Smith doesn’t have to throw for 300 — or even 200 — yards to win, but it puts a lot of pressure on the defense when the offense can’t pick up big chunks through the air. If only Smith had a receiver like Odell Beckham Jr., who made a pair of spectacular catches in a losing effort against the Redskins.

Read more on the Redskins:

Adrian Peterson’s run seals Redskins' 20-13 win over the Giants

Redskins-Giants takeaways: Scorching D.J. Swearinger fuels Washington’s win

Redskins are cruising along in first place, but it doesn’t always look like it

After dominant showing by Redskins' defense, D.J. Swearinger says ‘We’re just getting started’

Adrian Peterson continues to impress teammates with another huge game

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