LANDOVER, Md. – Any last, lingering hopes of the injury-plagued Washington Redskins reaching the playoffs were tossed into the gutter on Sunday afternoon after a humiliating 40-16 loss to the last-place New York Giants at FedEx Field.
“That product we put on the field today was not a reflection of the guys’ work during the week and at practice,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said after the game. “However, it did look bad. It’s a reflection on all of us. I think our players competed and did the best they could.”
The 24-point loss equals Washington’s most lopsided defeat of the season – a 43-19 drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints in Week 4 – and sees the team drop to 6-7 on the season. It is the first time the Redskins have been below .500 this season and guarantees they will remain in third place in the NFC East until next week.
Mark Sanchez – Washington’s third starting quarterback of the season – was benched early in the third quarter in favor of new signing Josh Johnson, who had not thrown a pass in the NFL since Dec. 11, 2011. Johnson was responsible for both Redskins touchdowns, including an 8-yard run and career-long 79-yard pass to Josh Doctson. However, both came in the fourth quarter when a Washington loss was inevitable.
“Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson, can’t say enough about them coming in here with really short notice trying to learn an NFL offense and play on a Sunday with limited reps,” Gruden said. “They competed and did the best they could. At the end of the day, we weren’t quite ready.”
Sanchez went 6-for-14 for 38 yards with two interceptions and was sacked five times while Johnson went 11-for-16 for 195 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Johnson also rushed for a team-high 45 yards on seven carries.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins were ripped to shreds. Giants quarterback Eli Manning went 14-for-22 for 197 yards and three touchdowns through the air while first-round draft pick Saquon Barkley rushed for 170 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.
“We just didn’t have it today, it kind of sucks,” Redskins cornerback Josh Norman said after the game. “The hand we’re being dealt right now, we just have to get through it.”
New York out-gained Washington in total yards 402 to 288, and 227 to 84 on the ground. Additionally, the Redskins committed 15 penalties compared to the Giants two.
Both offenses looked completely incompetent in the opening quarter. However, the Giants were able to find the end zone thanks in large part to punter Riley Dixon, who pinned the Redskins back at their own two-yard line on his third punt of the afternoon. On the second play of the ensuing Washington possession, Sanchez saw his pass tipped at the line and intercepted by Curtis Riley, who trotted into the end zone from nine yards out to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
The Redskins were still very much alive after the turnover, but a 27-point second quarter onslaught by the Giants buried Washington before halftime. After an Aldrick Rosas field goal made it 10-0 New York, Barkley broke free and out-paced the defense for a soul-crushing 78-yard touchdown run that all but sealed Washington’s fate.
The Giants were not done however; an Alec Ogletree interception and 52-yard run by Barkley set up a pair of Manning touchdown passes. Rosas added another field goal as the first half expired to widen the gap to 34-0. It is the largest halftime deficit faced by the Redskins in the history of FedEx Field.
“Listen, it was tough sledding out there for sure, that’s easy to figure out,” Sanchez said after the game. “I think we were trying to establish the run game hard in the beginning and then we just kind of ran into a little bit of buzz saw out there and got ourselves into some tough situations.”
Washington only converted two first downs in the opening 30 minutes, gaining a mere 51 total yards while committing seven penalties for 75 yards. Additionally, the Redskins did not convert on third down in the first half.
New York added a touchdown in the third quarter, but largely played conservatively in the second half in front of a dwindling FedEx Field crowd.
The Redskins travel to Jacksonville for a tussle with the offensively-challenged Jaguars next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in a must-win matchup. Johnson is scheduled to make his first start at quarterback since 2011 – and only the sixth of his career – in that game, according to Gruden.