Giants capitalize on turnovers to get first victory

The NFC East is off to an ugly start this season. Thursday night's game continued the trend, but Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants will see the 32-21 victory over the Redskins as a work of art.

The Giants improved to 1-2 on the season with a true team effort. New York's defense forced three turnovers, including an early interception by Prince Amukamara, that set the tone. Eli Manning led methodical drives and avoided any loose throws. Even the special teams got into the act with an early punt block for a safety.

We'll remember this low-energy game primarily for Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins' big step back on national television. After a clean game in Washington's win over St. Louis last week, Cousins faltered. He did nothing to improve his reputation as a quarterback that struggles to overcome poor plays, instead allowing a bad start Thursday night to snowball.

Cousins did not throw with confidence after his early poor decision that was picked off to set up an early Giants touchdown. He wound up being picked off twice, and often missed wide open Redskins receivers. At least two potential touchdowns were lost because of his lack of arm strength. Even his completed passes missed the mark. He finished with one of the most meaningless 300-yard games in history after a big effort in garbage time.

This was the type of game that could get coach Jay Gruden to consider a quarterback change to Colt McCoy (or Robert Griffin III), but it's too early in the season for that. This performance, however, dims what looked like a promising start to the season for the Redskins, now 1-2. Their previously impressive defense and run game did not show up.

The Giants' defense deserves plenty of the credit. They loaded up to stop the run, showing a lack of respect for Cousins -- and it paid off. Washington was held to 88 yards on the ground, and the Giants forced a fumble at the goal line in the fourth quarter. New York's defense is seriously lacking in talent, but it has played respectable team defense through three weeks. To put it another way: They are playing better defense than a year ago despite the lack of star power.

Perhaps Odell Beckham has enough wattage for the whole team. His 30-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter put the game away and showed off his strong hands. Manning finished with 279 yards and two scores mostly with unflashy, short passes.

It was that kind of night until a bizarre fourth quarter that included four touchdowns, including three in a 32-second span during garbage time. The Giants know there is no such thing as an ugly win for them. Ugly might be enough in this wide open NFC East.

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