LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — In one particularly embarrassing fourth-quarter sequence that drew boos from the home crowd, Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins went from planning to punt on fourth-and-1 to calling timeout and deciding to go for it, to drawing a delay-of-game penalty and, in the end, punting anyway.
Which, naturally, elicited more jeers.
By the end, Cousins was hearing cheers, because he made up for a pick-6 by showing the patience to produce a pair of second-half TD passes on slow-developing plays, helping the Redskins beat the New York Giants 20-10 on Thursday night on a drab field in a drab game between two injury-depleted teams that did not look ready for prime time.
“There were several plays that I would chalk up to the fact that they were sloppy because it was a short week. We just didn’t have the reps that we needed to,” said Cousins, who was 19 for 31 for 242 yards. “I’m just glad we found a way to win.”
The two NFC East rivals combined for more punts (nine) than points (six) in the first half, which ended 3-all on a pair of short field goals — from 30 yards by New York’s Aldrick Rosas, and 28 by Washington’s Nick Rose. The big play on Washington’s lone scoring “drive” of the half? A 37-yard flag for pass interference on New York’s Ross Cockrell; the entire possession covered 38 yards.
But Cousins, for whom every game is seemingly a referendum on whether Washington (5-6) should sign him to a long-term deal, connected with Jamison Crowder on a 15-yard pass in the third quarter that broke a 3-all tie, and with Josh Doctson on a 14-yarder with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the game.
On the Crowder play, Cousins was flushed out of the pocket and bought time by moving to his right before throwing into the end zone, where his receiver was “pretty wide open,” according to the QB. On the one to Doctson, Cousins looked for another receiver but eventually came back to last year’s first-round draft pick, saying, “He got separation and made a great catch.”
In between, cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted Cousins’ pass and returned the ball 53 yards to make it 10-all.
That one play involved more yardage than Eli Manning and the Giants (2-9) generated in the entire second half.
“Not very good,” coach Ben McAdoo summed up.
They gained 47 yards and one solitary first down over the last two quarters. One possession ended with an interception by Manning, four ended with punts, and another dissolved when they turned the ball over on downs.
“It’s no fun losing. It’s no fun not scoring enough points offensively. It can wear you out. It can test you,” said Manning, who was 13 for 27 for 113 yards. “You have to keep going to the drawing board and find ways to play better.”
This was the first time the Redskins had hosted a game on Thanksgiving, and they and the Giants didn’t exactly treat the national TV audience to a thriller. More of a snoozer.
Given the ugliness, perhaps it was fitting that it was contested on a terrible-looking field. A large swath of brown ran down the middle, all the way from one end zone to the other.
Route-runners stumbled and fell for no apparent reason. Redskins back Samaje Perine gained 3 yards on five carries in the first half, although he did finish the game with 24 runs for 100 yards. Some fans on Twitter blamed the shaky footing for Cousins’ poor throw that turned into Jenkins’ score.
The ineptness was on display all night, never moreso than on what Redskins coach Jay Gruden called “football folly” — that botched fourth-down gong show that he blamed on a player who was supposed to be in the game but wasn’t because he had taken off a shoe.
Maybe all the issues were a result of being so depleted by injuries: Washington has placed 15 players on injured reserve this season, including its top two running backs, and New York’s total is 14, including star receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Both offensive lines have been particular areas of concern, and Thursday was no different. The Redskins were missing three starters, while the Giants were using their eighth starting combination of the season.
So maybe it was no surprise that there were 10 sacks, plus penalties for false starts and holding.
In the game’s first eight possessions, the club combined for seven punts and one turnover on downs, when the Redskins failed to convert a fourth-and-1 in Giants territory thanks to Doctson’s dropped pass. Indeed, there were the same number of drops as first downs (four) in that stretch.
CROWDER COMES THROUGH
Crowder had a game-high seven catches — no other player on either team had more than three — for 141 yards and his first score of the season.
Giants: LB Deontae Skinner (hamstring), LB Curtis Grant (right leg), CB Donte Deayon (forearm and jaw).
Giants: At Oakland on Dec. 3. The Raiders are another playoff team a year ago that is under .500 currently.
Redskins: A second consecutive Thursday night game, this one Nov. 30 at the Dallas Cowboys, a team that won 33-19 at Washington last month.