EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants had so many opportunities. They could’ve buried the decimated Washington Redskins, who were losing key players to injury on seemingly every drive Sunday. They could’ve put themselves in prime position in the NFC East, with a 3-0 record after three weeks while keeping the Redskins winless.
But they didn’t. They made foolish mistakes at crucial moments. Their center was kicked out of the game and they had a blocked punt in the fourth quarter negated by a silly unnecessary roughness penalty from a rookie. They missed tackle after tackle, committed double-digit penalties (including a key pass interference call on Odell Beckham Jr. on the final drive) and continually put the ball on the ground in a 29-27 loss to the Redskins.
It ultimately ended on quarterback Eli Manning's second interception of the contest in the final seconds. It was the Giants' third turnover in the contest. They were fortunate there weren't more.
"It was ourselves. It was ourselves. I think it's obvious," running back Orleans Darkwa said. "Turnovers, you can't have those. We have to take advantage of our opportunities and we didn't do that. ... At the end of the day we lost. We beat ourselves."
It was a wild, back-and-forth game that featured a little bit of everything, including an ejection from one of the most unlikely of sources: center Weston Richburg. He appears to be the first player tossed under the new rule that ejects players for committing multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the same category.
The rule and the tightly officiated contest on Sunday were the result of the last meeting between Beckham and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman.
"They were probably trying to cut down on things because of what happened with that matchup, but it is on me," Richburg said. "I can’t control how many flags they want to throw. I have to be a leader and be in there for my team."
Beckham and Norman, for the most part, behaved. Both did their thing. Beckham caught seven passes for 121 yards. Norman provided solid coverage against Beckham. But this afternoon was about more than those two individuals. It was about two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions, until the Redskins took the lead for the final time on Dustin Hopkins' 37-yard field goal with 1:51 remaining. It was his fifth field goal of the contest.
Most of all, the Giants (2-1) missed a massive opportunity to take control of the NFC East while the Redskins (1-2) avoided a dreaded 0-3 start.
"It was huge. Huge. Huge," Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. "Giving them a loss and giving us a loss in the division, it didn't happen for us. It's a big -- I don't want to say step back -- but it's a hurdle we have to overcome."
This could be one the Giants rue later in the season. The defending division champions are still alive. The Giants are no longer undefeated, with tough prime-time road games in Minnesota and Green Bay up next.
The Giants started strong and built a 15-point first-half lead. But they were fortunate to head into halftime ahead. They needed a boneheaded play from Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins -- who was sacked deep in Giants territory in the final seconds of the first half -- to take a 21-16 lead into the locker room.