Down two quarterbacks, Redskins press on against Giants
The last time the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins met in the regular season, things were a lot different.
When that game took place in Week 8, the Giants were reeling and their NFC East opponents were soaring.
But since the Giants' 20-13 loss to the Redskins, so much has changed.
Washington has been rocked by injuries that claimed two quarterbacks -- Alex Smith and Colt McCoy -- to broken legs. Offensive linemen Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio and Shawn Lauvao and receiver Paul Richardson are out with season-ending injuries as well.
The injuries have taken their toll. The Redskins have lost four of their last five games, with three of those four losses being by at least two scores.
"They'll make decisions how they're going to move forward with the players that they have in there," Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said.
After Smith's injury, the Redskins brought in Mark Sanchez to back up McCoy. Sanchez suddenly found himself on the field on Monday night when McCoy went down in Washington's 28-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
"In some ways, two weeks ago, it was an unfamiliar position, but really historically, it's a familiar position and that's what makes it fun," Sanchez said. "You work for something, you pray for something and then it finally happens. You don't care what the circumstances are. You're just happy to get a shot. Not to prove anything to anybody else, but just for you, just for you, just for the guys I just met that I've grown close to in just a few days."
Shurmur said he's familiar with what Sanchez can do after coaching him with the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I was with Mark Sanchez for more than a year, so he's very capable of leading a team to victory," Shurmur said. "They're going to try to do what Mark can do best and try to play to the strengths of their team. I know they've got probably a soon-to-be Hall of Fame running back (Adrian Peterson), so you can just connect the dots and see what they'll probably do on offense to compensate for some of the injuries they have."
Washington's injuries haven't hit the defense as hard. The Giants hope to exploit Washington's run defense, which in its last five games has allowed opponents an average of 134.4 rushing yards per game after allowing just 80.1 in their first seven games.
Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley rushed for 38 yards on 13 carries in the first meeting between the teams, his second lowest yardage total of the season. But since then a revamped offensive line helped Barkley rush for 100 yards in three of his last four games.
"Just try to get some good looks, and we'll see how they play -- whether they'll want to get the safeties in the box or play a little bit more two-high (coverage), and kind of protect their secondary," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said of trying to attack Washington's defense.
"We just got to have a good mix of the run, the play-action. Just get completions, move the ball, and stay out of third-and-long."
The Giants are trending in the opposite direction from the Redskins, having won three of four games since that first meeting and narrowly missing a fourth win.
While they've had some injuries here and there, they haven't been bitten as hard as their NFC East Division opponents.
Manning has a career-best completion percentage of 67.9, and a stabilized offensive line that gave up 31 sacks in the first eight games has helped him.
In the last four games, Manning has gone 81 of 121 for 886 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
"I'm fond of everything that Eli brings to the table," Shurmur said when asked about Manning's future with the team. "I'm fond of who he is as a person. I get a chance to see him behind the scenes, and I see how hard he works. And I know how hard he wants to win. But no matter what the talent level of the quarterback is, the team around him has to play well too."
The Redskins need a win against the Giants to keep pace in the NFL East race.
"We know what's at stake. We understand that this division is really up for grabs, so these next few games, especially the divisional games, carry a lot of weight," Sanchez said. "Our focus and our energy is about playing against the Giants. We moved on from that last one and now we'll get a chance to get some reps and be ready to play."
Updated December 5, 2018