The Washington Redskins improve to 5-2 on the season, beating NFC East foes the New York Giants 20-13. The final score was not indicative just how dominating the Redskins were defensively.
Adrian Peterson rushed for a game-high 149 yards, and the Redskins defense held a giants offense in check that features Odell Beckham Jr., and Saquon Barkley.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from Sunday’s impressive win.
1. Front-running Continues
The Washington Redskins continued their season script of being frontrunners. For the fifth game, the Redskins scored first, as Alex Smith found Peterson for a seven-yard touchdown pass with 2:53 remaining in the first quarter. The Redskins would never look back, controlling the pace of the game throughout.
Washington improves to 5-0 on the season when they score first. They are 0-2 when the opponent scores first. In fact in their seven games, Washington has yet to experience a lead change. It’s only non-scoreless tie was 7-7 against the Dallas Cowboys last week.
The Redskins love to get a quick score and play off the lead. Their fifth-ranked defense does a great job of getting off the field. On Sunday, the Giants were 2-for-14 on third down conversions.
It’s a game plan that’s imperative for the Redskins with their struggling passing game. It’s so far been a recipe for success. With Eli Manning and the Giants offense having struggles of their own, the Redskins were seemingly never threatened even with their biggest lead being seven points for much of the game.
2. D.J. Swearinger Made the Play of Game
D.J. Swearinger was all over the field, collecting two interceptions off Manning. His first may have been his biggest. As the Giants pushed into the red zone early in the second quarter, trailing 7-0, Swearinger fooled Manning and jumped a pass intended for Beckham for an interception. The pick killed a promising drive for the Giants, and set the tone that nothing was going to be easy on the day for the Giants.
Playing a matched up zone, Swearinger passed off tight end Evan Engram the minute he recognized the rub route for Beckham. The Redskins safety broke for the ball, boxing out Beckham for the interception.
DJ Swearinger continues to demonstrate why he is PFF's #1 ranked Safety in 2018.
Red zone interception. #Redskins ball!
Two spoons! pic.twitter.com/RzdN8NjfqP
— Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoRCC) October 28, 2018
It was the best scoring chance the Giants offense had the entire game before a late garbage time score. If New York would have scored on that second quarter drive, the complexion of the game would have vastly been different, but Swearinger made a great read to force the turnover, getting the Redskins back on their script of controlling the flow of the game and protecting their lead.
Washington stopped the Giants from scoring touchdowns three of four trips to the red zone. The only touchdown yielded in the red zone and the day was with 17 seconds remaining and needing a miracle to changing the outcome.
3. Redskins Finding Pass Rush
For the second straight game, the Redskins consistently got to the quarterback. They sacked Manning seven times, overpowering New York’s struggling offensive line.
Defensive end Matt Ioannidis led the charge, registering the first two sacks. As the defensive front took away the Giants’ running game, the opportunities opened up for others to join the sack party.
Ioannidis finished with 2.5 sacks while Ryan Kerrigan had 1.5. Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Joshua Harvey-Clemons each had one sack.
Sunday was the Redskins third game this season with at least four sacks. Some of the credit has to also go to the Redskins secondary. Often times, Manning had no where to go with the football because of the coverage on his receivers. The relentless pass rush ultimately got to him as he waited for someone to get open.
4. Redskins Stout Run Defense Has Stingiest Performance of Season
Once again the Redskins defense was stout against the run. This time with their stingiest performance to date this season, holding the Giants to 37 yards rushing and 2.6 yards per carry.
Barkley never quite got going in the run game despite his combination of power and speed. The Redskins defensive front led by Payne, Allen, and Ioannidis dominated up front, clogged gaps. The inside linebackers were precise with their tackling to pull him down. Mason Foster had a game-high 13 tackles, nine of them solo. Barkley broke the first line of defense only twice.
It’s been an impressive stretch for Washington’s defense, who has held an opponent to less than 100 rushing yards in now five of seven games.
5. Adrian Peterson Continues to Drive the Offense
A 33-year old Peterson continues to be the Redskins’ offensive MVP. He didn’t practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday and Friday as he continues to deal with shoulder and ankle injuries. Yet, he was able to put the offense on his back for a season-high 149 rushing yards and two total touchdowns.
He was forced to play an increase amount of snaps as both Chris Thompson (ribs) and Kapri Bibbs (shoulder) were injured early in the game. However, he powered through. Just when it appeared he was wearing down from the increased workload, he found a seam thanks to a block from guard Brandon Scherff that sprung him for a 64-yard touchdown that sealed the Redskins victory late in the fourth quarter.
— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) October 28, 2018
In his 12th season in the NFL, Peterson has been a pleasant surprise for the Redskins. He has rushed for 96 yards or more in each of Washington’s five wins. After the gutsy performance he displayed Sunday, there won’t be any concerns with him not practicing or being limited on a Wednesday and Thursday.