The New York Giants victory over the Washington Redskins on October 21, 2012 at MetLife Stadium was certainly as close as the 27-23 score would indicate. While the Redskins had the offensive edge statistically (480 yards total offense v. 393 yards total offense), four Redskins’ turnovers hampered them offensively, as Robert Griffin III turned the ball over twice against New York.
Heading into the rematch, Big Blue must tighten up defensively, so that the team won’t have to rely on winning the turnover battle in order to come away victorious.
The five keys to victory on Monday Night Football are:
1. Contain Robert Griffin III: There is no doubt that RG3 is a dual threat. The former Baylor Bear did throw for 258 yards in the air in the week 7 contest, and accounted for another 89 yards on the ground. While Perry Fewell’s defense would like to shut down Griffin completely, that would be a tall order. But the Giants cannot allow RG3 to dominate them both on the ground and through the air. On the plus side, New York’s pass rush got to Griffin for three sacks and forced him to fumble twice. The Giants must make Griffin uncomfortable in the pocket, while maintaining their rush lanes, so they can contain the mobile quarterback. If the Giants play undisciplined, then they could be in for a long evening.
2. Don’t ignore Alfred Morris: Statistically, Alfred Morris had 120 yards against Big Blue on 22 carries in the New Jersey Meadowlands, a gaudy 5.5 yards per carry. Morris has been a steady performer and has averaged 4.7 yards per carry this year, with his longest run being only 39 yards. The Giants must not allow the Redskins to control time of possession by allowing Morris to have his usual game. The front four and Chase Blackburn will be key in stringing out runs by Morris, so the Redskins’ rookie runs east-west, rather than north-south. Chances are that if the Giants hold Morris to under 100 yards, they will be victorious because it will force the ‘Skins to win the game through the air.
3. Giants must run the ball effectively: This key was made more difficult by the injury to halfback Andre Brown, but a repeat of the paltry 64 team rushing yards in the first match-up, will be a recipe for disaster. The Giants should try to establish the running game with Ahmad Bradshaw early, and then use David Wilson as appropriate for a change-of-pace. The Giants rushed for 147 yards as a team against Green Bay last Sunday night, and a similar effort is needed to keep RG3 and his offensive teammates on the sidelines.
4. Don’t allow Santana Moss to make big plays: If it seems that Santana Moss is all over the field every time these teams meet, it’s because he is. In 16 career games against New York, Moss has caught 11 touchdown passes, by far the most he has against any one team. In his career, Moss has caught 70 passes for 1,048 yards against the Giants. Moss hauled in two touchdowns against New York on October 21st, including a 30 yard strike from Griffin with 1:32 left on the clock. Unfortunately for the Redskins, Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz with a 77-yard catch and carry that provided the game winning points. Don’t be surprised if Antrel Rolle is lined up against Moss, similar to the role he played against Randall Cobb of the Green Bay Packers last week.
5. Catch the ball: In many games this year, the opponent hasn’t stopped New York, the Giants have stopped the Giants. Ahmad Bradshaw, Victor Cruz, Martellus Bennett and Hakeem Nicks have all dropped passes from Eli Manning in key spots this year. The Giants are a very rhythmic offense and the dropped balls seem to take the Giants out of rhythm. Frequent “three-and-outs” won’t cut in this division rivalry either, so the G-men need not beat themselves, they need to make the Redskins beat them.