Giants locker room electric with NFC East suddenly in play
You never forget your first.
Even if it arrives much later than you envisioned or wanted it to.
Joe Judge lost his first five games as the first-year head coach of the Giants but Sunday was dousing day. He got showered in the locker room after a 20-19 victory at MetLife Stadium — only after Washington scored with 36 seconds remaining and the Giants had to defend and survive a two-point conversion try.
“You know what, the locker room obviously had a lot of energy afterwards,’’ Judge said. “The guys were very happy. There’s been a lot of pressure that they’ve put on themselves and that we put on them. They’ve been fighting hard for six weeks and working through training camp for us. You hit this point right here and you just want to get the results. And I’m happy the fans were able to have it and I’m happy the players were able to enjoy it.’’
It figured with these Giants that they needed to get bailed out by the player selected 255th and last in the 2020 NFL Draft. How fitting that linebacker Tae Crowder, dubbed “Mr. Irrelevant,’’ made the most relevant play of the season.
Judge had to sweat this one out. A 13-3 lead was gone and the game was even at 13 when Crowder scooped up a Kyle Allen fumble forced by Kyler Fackrell and sprinted 43 yards for a touchdown with 3:29 remaining.
Judge, ever the stickler, noted Crowder, who first kicked the ball before securing it, should have bent his knees on the play.
“I wanted to dive on it bad,’’ Crowder said. “I knew if I could scoop it up and get in the end zone it would help the team. And it was something we needed at the moment.’’
Daniel Jones, who threw a red-zone interception that cost the Giants points, was the one to give Judge the game ball.
“Rightfully so,’’ Jones said. “He certainly deserves it.’’
It was the first happy moment in six weeks for the Giants. And, wouldn’t you know it, not long after Logan Ryan pounced on the onside kick to seal the deal, the reality of the true dreadfulness of the NFC East came into sharper focus.
The Giants are 1-5. The team that leads the division, the Cowboys, are 2-3 heading into Monday night’s game with the Cardinals. The Eagles are 1-4-1. Washington is 1-5.
The Giants, in a quick turnaround, face the Eagles on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
Look here, the Giants are in the race!
“That’s run through my head a lot,’’ defensive tackle Leonard Williams said. “It made me feel happy and confident that everything’s right in front of us still.’’
The Giants are not going to be in anything other than trouble if they do not up the ante on their performance, as they struggled to hand Washington its fifth consecutive loss after taking a 10-0 lead on Jones’ perfectly placed teardrop lob to Darius Slayton for a 23-yard touchdown hookup late in the first quarter. The Giants were in control, then they were not.
Ahead 13-10, the Giants were poised to add to their slim lead late in the third quarter when a painstaking drive that started at their own 20 reached the Washington 7. What followed was a haunting reminder it is difficult to trust Jones in these situations.
Pressured, Jones intended to toss the ball out the back of the end zone but did not get enough power on his throw. Instead, cornerback Kendall Fuller made a leaping, lunging interception. His right elbow appeared to hit out of bounds but the turnover survived a replay review to stand.
“Just trying to throw the ball away and didn’t get enough on it,’’ Jones said. “I got to make that decision sooner and get the ball out. Can’t afford to make those mistakes.’’
Washington tied it up with 8:56 left. After Crowder’s game-turning play, it was time for the Giants defense to maintain a seven-point lead and it did not go well. Allen, starting because second-year Dwayne Haskins was benched last week, dinked and dunked and then lofted the ball to Cam Sims, who beat Ryan on a double-move for a contested 22-yard touchdown catch with 36 seconds to go. Washington was within one point and coach Ron Rivera, called “Riverboat Ron’’ for his gambling ways, was not about to call for the extra point and overtime.
With Judge’s first win hanging in the balance, Allen on the two-point conversion try was pressured by Blake Martinez and Dexter Lawrence, as defensive coordinator Patrick Graham signaled in a play installed earlier in the week. Allen on the run had nowhere to go and his pass fell to the turf. Safety Jabrill Peppers did a series of backflips in celebration.
“It was special,’’ Williams said. “It’s not like we won the playoffs, we still have a lot of work to do, no bragging rights or anything like that. It was nice to see guys smile in the locker room after putting in that much hard work. We kinda got tired of going into the locker room and seeing sad faces.’’
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