Last review of the year...Here are the questions I asked before the game and now we get the real answers.
1. How focused are the Redskins? Though many were eyeing their vacation, they played hard and played as if they wanted to win. Can’t argue with that; they just lost another close game. It’s what they’ve done all season. One thing: let’s not get carried away by the fact that Washington lost 6 games by 3 points or less. Remember, they lost five such games in 2009.
2. Will the Giants recover? They clearly did so, though at times you wondered about where they were headed. The Giants had numerous chances to put the Redskins away and they couldn’t. Still, after their previous two weeks it was a good way to end the season for New York.
3. Will the Redskins repeat last week’s defensive performance? They sort of did because New York only averaged 2.6 yrds per carry. Aside from a 27-yard Brandon Jacobs run, the Giants backs did nothing. Credit the front three, again. New York had its injuries, which played a factor – and yes Washington had some too. Still, a good effort up front. Vonnie Holliday made a big difference as did Anthony Bryant and Adam Carriker played well the past two games.
4. Will Brian Orakpo’s return matter? The Redskins moved Orakpo around, to offset New York sliding its line, but he didn’t apply a lot of pressure. He needs help from having another legitimate pass rusher near him. Until that happens it’ll be easy to slow him. Also think he needs to develop another move.
5. Will Eli Manning pick on Phillip Buchanon again? He did a little bit, especially early in the game. But Buchanon recovered and was not abused as he was in the first game. He even tackled a whole lot better. Also wondered about Kevin Barnes at safety and he was OK. His lack of size is a definite issue back there, which is why he’ll return to corner.
6. How can the Redskins slow this offense? Thought the key was stopping the run and forcing turnovers. They forced one turnover, but they definitely stopped the run. Eli Manning threw for 243 yards, but the Giants only managed 17 points. Guessing the Redskins will take that every day. The slick field didn’t result in more turnovers, but it did lead to poor footing and a lot of slips.
7. Can the line handle this rush? They sort of did, in the fact that they only allowed two sacks. However, there were too many times where New York’s DTs pushed the interior back, preventing any sort of opening for Rex Grossman to escape the ends who were pinching. Osi Umenyiora started dominating in the second half. He beat Trent Williams with some inside moves and then stunned him by going wide for the sack/fumble. The Giants provided a blueprint of how to rush the passer and it can’t just be with the ends.
8. What’s the worry? My worry was Rex Grossman in the pocket and considering there were two sack/fumbles, I’d say that was legit. He also threw an interception that appeared more to be the result of Mike Sellers turning and running upfield rather than staying in the flat. The fumbles resulted from pressure and, again, there weren’t many escape lanes in the pocket. It collapsed a bit too much.
9. Will they be able to run the ball? They did at times as Ryan Torain had a decent day with 61 yards and 3.4 yards per carry. But they only finished with 67 rushing yards as a team. While there was improvement, those numbers don’t cut it. There was no consistency. Some of that stemmed from allowing penetration on certain runs and not sustaining drives.
10. Where else can they hurt New York? Thought they could hurt them on punt returns and Brandon Banks averaged 24.3 yards on three returns. I’d say that’s hurting someone. His best returns came in the fourth quarter when he first fielded a ball at the 7-yard line, with a defender near him, and gained 29 yards. He has the coaches trust to try such a return from an area that is usually a no-go for retuners. But he bailed them out of potential bad field position. And his next return was for 27 yards. The next one? Matt Dodge punted it out of bounds – for only 29 yards.
11. Who will win? I ignored my gut and went with my head, which says to always pick the Giants in this game, and predicted a three-point Giants win. Hey, nice way to finish the season. Thought the Redskins had to get up early to win and they once more failed to do that vs. New York. Thought they would play better and they did. Thought the Giants were a tough matchup for the Redskins. They’re just more physical.