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Redskins eliminated from playoff contention with loss

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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The Washington Redskins have been eliminated from playoff contention, while the Lions and Packers are in. Kirk Cousins' late interception to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a late Big Blue fumble return sealed Washington's 19-10 loss to the New York Giants (11-5) in Week 17. Here's what we learned:

1. Cousins was in line to play hero, but he couldn't finish the script. The Redskins quarterback bounced back from a scattershot first half to make some big throws during Washington's second-half 10-point comeback. Down three with 2:12 to go, Cousins started off hot too, completing four consecutive passes for 32 yards to get the 'Skins into opposing territory. But on the next play, Cousins, hurried by pressure, pump-faked and then threw a late pass over the middle intended for Pierre Garcon but intercepted by Rodgers-Cromartie. The pick was Cromartie's second of the game and killed Washington's playoff hopes.

Aside for the Redskins missing the postseason, Cousins will be kicking himself over Sunday's performance. In line for a nine-figure deal before the final quarter of the season, Cousins' first half and final turnover on Sunday will surely affect negotiations in the offseason. While he did lead the Redskins (8-7-1) to the precipice of another playoff appearance and set franchise records with a top-five offense, Cousins' crucial errors in two home losses down the stretch will linger in the memories of Scot McCloughan, Jay Gruden and Dan Snyder.

2. The Giants were locked into the fifth seed regardless of Sunday's result, so few could blame them for wanting to sit their important starters. But instead of resting Eli Manning and Co., coach Ben McAdoo let every player west of Odell Beckham play out the second half, a decision that proved crucial in the victory. Steve Spagnuolo's first-team defense crushed Washington's offensive line, tallying four sacks of Cousins -- three of which came from the secondary. Cromartie, Eli Apple and Landon Collins stayed in form on the back end, the former recording a sack and two picks. The best news for Giants fans? No one was seriously injured. New York will have to wait out the remainder of Sunday's slate to learn their next opponent.

3. New York also saw its running game finally hit its stride, just in time for postseason play. Paced by Paul Perkins (102 yards), the Giants recorded 162 yards on the ground, their highest rushing total of the season. The consistency in the run game opens a wrinkle that New York didn't have before and keeps the ball out of Eli Manning's hands, which, depending on who you ask, is a plus. Perkins' yardage has increased progressively since Week 11 (16, 29, 38, 45, 56, 68). Are we in store for a 150-yard romping on Wild Card Weekend?

4. When Washington's 2016 eulogy is written, who will be to blame? Is it Cousins? Should it be Jordan Reed's injuries? One surefire scapegoat will be the running game. In Washington's final two home games -- both losses -- the 'Skins were held to 28 and 38 rushing yards. Those numbers are a far cry from the triple-digit totals that Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson were putting up during Washington's midseason surge to relevance.

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