The New York Giants earned their second win of the season on Sunday, as they downed the Washington Football team by a score of 23-20. Despite scoring 20 points in the first half, the Giants allowed Washington to get back into the game, as Alex Smith engineered a 17-3 run in the second half that gave Washington an opportunity to win. Unfortunately, his three interceptions were just too much to overcome.
This game was quite the roller coaster, as Smith was forced to replace Kyle Allen when he went down with a dislocated ankle. The veteran was clearly ready for action, however, as he completed 24 of 32 passes for 325 yards and a touchdown. He did show some rust, however, as the three picks he threw proved to be the difference.
The NFC East is still completely up for grabs, and Washington even retains second place in the division despite their 2-6 record. As for the Giants, they improve to 2-7, and both of their wins this season have happened to come against Washington.
Why the Giants won
The Giants defense was able to come up big last month when they denied Washington's potential game-winning two-point conversion for their first win of the season, and the defense was able to come up big again this week. Washington had possession in enemy territory with just over two minutes remaining in the game and they were inching towards field goal territory. Then, on third down, Jabrill Peppers picked off Smith to get back possession for the Giants. Even when Daniel Jones wasn't able to run out the clock on New York's next drive, Logan Ryan then stepped up and picked off Smith to seal the game.
Why Washington Lost
It's too easy to say Washington lost just because of Smith's interceptions. In my opinion, Washington lost because of their defense. Yes, it's hard when you have to spend the majority of the game on the field, but the Giants' offense is not good. They came into Week 9 with the second-worst offense in terms of yards per game, and also were averaging just 18 points per game. The Giants surpassed that average just in the first half with 20 points scored. Per ESPN's John Keim, New York rushed for a season-high 110 yards in the first half. It's also the most Washington has allowed in the first half all season -- by 30 yards. Washington's offense only averages 19 points per game, so if you want a chance to win, the defense can't allow 20 points in the first half.
Washington had two chances to come back and either tie the game or take the lead with just over two minutes left, but it was not to be. Smith threw two interceptions and that was that.
Play of the game
Washington doesn't have one of the best offensive attacks in the NFL, but they do possess one of the best up-and-coming wideouts in the NFL. Terry McLaurin is an absolute star, and he again showed why on Sunday with this 68-yard touchdown.
Not only was McLaurin able to catch this pass in traffic, but he evaded two would-be tacklers and took it all the way to the house. You also have to give Smith credit for zipping the ball into a tight window. McLaurin is not just a good receiver, he's evolving into a home-run hitter -- someone who has the potential to score any time he touches the ball.
This game was incredibly sloppy in the first half. On Washington's first offensive play, Antonio Gibson coughed up the ball and it looked like no one wanted to acquire possession.
Washington hits the road next week, as they are slated to take on the Detroit Lions. Matthew Stafford and Co. suffered a 34-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The Giants return to New York for Week 10, and they will host another divisional rival in the Philadelphia Eagles.