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Redskins win their season opener, defeat the New York Giants 28-14

The six game winning streak that the New York Giants held over the Washington Redskins – one that’s spanned for almost four years – is now officially over.

After being down 14-7 just before halftime, the Redskins scored 21 unanswered points, and held the Giants to zero points in the second half, winning by a final score of 28-14.

Quarterback Rex Grossman, who was named the starter over Labor Day weekend, easily had one of his best games since the 2006 season (when he was still with Chicago), completing 21 of 34 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns (with no interceptions).

Similar to the last few times the Redskins have played the Giants – over the last five games the two teams have met, the Giants have outscored the Redskins by a margin of 104-28 in the first half of those games – they started their first two drives going three-and-out, and found themselves down by a touchdown after the Giants second offensive possession.

Facing third and ten from their own 30 yard line, the Giants needed just two plays to find the endzone. Eli Manning completed a deep pass to receiver Hakeem Nicks, spanning 68 yards, and then kept the ball himself on a bootleg quarterback keeper for a two yard touchdown run on the very next play.

It looked as though the Redskins would respond, as Grossman drove the Redskins 39 yards, down to th Giants 16 yard line. The drive then stalled, Grossman was sacked, and kicker Graham Gano missed a 39 yard field goal, keeping the score at 7-0.

The Redskins would manage to tie the game on their very next possession. They went 67 yards on 11 plays, on a drive capped off by a one yard touchdown run by newly-acquired running back Tim Hightower. The key play on the drive was a 10 yard completion from Grossman to Santana Moss on 4th and 5 from the Giants 37 yard line. Instead of attempting a 54 yard field goal, the coaches decided to take a risk and go for it, especially considering the Redskins were just coming off a drive resulting in a missed field goal attempt.

After trading punts, the Giants would regain the upper hand on the scoreboard, albeit for the last time that day. With a steady diet of runs from Brandon Jacobs and solid throws from Eli Manning, the Giants would go 85 yards on eight plays, capped off by a six yard touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw, giving the Giants a 14-7 lead with just under three minutes left in the first half.

But Grossman would respond by leading the Redskins during the “two minute drill,” going five-for-five on the drive, culminating in a six yard touchdown throw to receiver Anthony Armstrong with just 38 seconds left in the first half, tying the score at 14-14 at intermission.

The fortunes of both teams on the day were basically dictated on the Giants very first drive after halftime. Facing a 3rd and 11 from their own 18 yard line, Manning’s pass attempt was batted up in the air by Redskins rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan – their first round pick out of Purdue University – who also ended up catching the deflected pass and returning it nine yards for a touchdown, giving the Redskins a 21-14 lead.

The Giants best opportunity to change momentum, which at the time was clearly favoring Washington, early in the fourth quarter. On third and nine during the Redskins first drive of the fourth quarter, Grossman was sacked by Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (who abused left tackle Trent Williams for a large part of the afternoon), causing Grossman to fumble the football. Giants linebacker Michael Boley returned the ball 13 yards, but was tackled by Hightower in what was most likely a touchdown-saving tackle.

The Giants would end up attempting a 38 yard field goal, as a result of the great field positon from the fumble recovery and return, but kicker Lawrence Tynes attempt looked more like a low knuckleball, and was blocked by linebacker Brian Orakpo.

The Redskins quickly capitalized on the error, going 68 yards on 10 plays during a drive of their own, that also ended up being helped via another “gift” from the Giants. On 3rd and nine from their own 45 yard line, Grossman completed a seven yard pass to tight end Fred Davis. Davis fell to the ground short of a first down, but was hit from behind by safety Antrel Rolle, who hit Davis while he was on the ground and led the hit with the crown of his helmet against a defenseless receiver. The personal foul call cave the Redskins an automatic first down, and six plays later, Grossman threaded the needle beautifully for a four yard touchdown pass to receiver Jabar Gaffney.

The Giants would mount almost no comeback attempt, as they couldn’t gain more than 15 yards on either of their remaining drives before the games conclusion. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett blitzed the Giants mercilessly on the game’s last two drives, easily disrupting Eli Manning’s timing on his passes, in what was already a sub-par performance for him. Manning finish the game going 18 of 32 for 268 yards, no touchdowns, and one critical interception.

The win marks the first time the Redskins had defeated the Giants in Washington since the 2005 season; they were 0-5 against the Giants over the last five games at FedEx Field.

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