LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Jay Gruden’s Washington Redskins have not won two games in a row all season. They followed a 33-point victory with a 28-point loss. They are 5-1 at home, 0-5 on the road. They tend to have a hard time running the ball — and stopping the run.
And yet, for all of their deficiencies and inconsistency, the Redskins are right there at the top of the NFC East.
Kirk Cousins connected with DeSean Jackson for a 63-yard touchdown pass and scored on a fourth-down quarterback sneak, Washington intercepted Eli Manning three times, and the Redskins withstood the latest miraculous catch by Odell Beckham Jr. to hold on and beat the New York Giants 20-14 Sunday, pulling into a tie for first place.
“We’re just in the driver’s seat right now,” Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher said. “We’ve just got to continue winning games and driving the car — right into the playoffs.”
New York trailed 20-0 before making things interesting as Manning threw fourth-quarter TD passes of 40 yards to Rueben Randle and 21 yards to Beckham, who took off from the 2 to make a fantastic diving grab, corralling the ball with his left hand while parallel to the ground.
“What can you say about that?” Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said. “That’s not human.”
The Giants came in off their bye and with a chance to create space in the standings. Instead, they’re 5-6, just like the Redskins, with five games remaining. The Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) and Dallas Cowboys (3-8), both routed on Thanksgiving Day, are the other members of the mediocre division.
“We `sleptwalked’ — whatever the word is,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
“We came out flat,” he said. “Too many mistakes.”
On a chilly, dreary day, New York’s first two possessions ended when passes by Manning went in and out of receivers’ hands and were picked off — first by linebacker Perry Riley Jr., then by cornerback Will Blackmon. And on the Giants’ first drive of the second half, Manning’s throw from the 4 was intercepted in the end zone by rookie Quinton Dunbar.
It was the 20th three-interception game of two-time Super Bowl MVP Manning’s career; he had only six picks all season until Sunday. He wound up 26 for 51 for 321 yards; Beckham had nine catches for 142 yards.
New York’s first 10 drives culminated in three turnovers and seven punts. On the team’s 11th possession, Manning finally put some points on the board, hitting Randle. Then came Beckham’s highlight-reel grab.
But it was too little, too late.
Washington led 17-0 at halftime, thanks in part to Cousins’ 1-yard TD sneak with under 2 minutes to go that generated a full-throated chorus of “Hail to the Redskins!” As the teams headed to the locker rooms soon thereafter, fans gave a standing ovation, a rare salute to a club that has finished last in the NFC East in six of the past seven seasons.
“They done put up with a lot of stuff around here,” Hatcher said.
Cousins was 20 for 29 for 302 yards, including the long TD to Jackson — who taunted the Giants by strutting along the goal line before actually crossing it.
“A spur-of-the-moment thing. I just felt like doing it,” said Jackson, who returned punts for the first time this season. “You never know what you get with me.”
Cousins’ most important stat was probably this: zero interceptions. When the fourth-year QB avoids getting picked off this season, Washington is 5-0; when he throws at least one interception, the team is 0-6.
All part of what’s been a wildly fluctuating Redskins team in Gruden’s second year.
That’s why safety Dashon Goldson said he organized a players’-only meeting Saturday.
“Everybody got stuff of their chest. How they were feeling. What they thought about the team and where we’re at and what we need to do to progress,” Goldson said. “We’re just so much up and down.”
For the moment, at least, they’re on the upswing.
Notes: Giants G Geoff Schwartz fractured his lower left leg. … The Redskins last had a five-game home winning streak during a single season in 1991.