Giants defense gets job done, earns first win of 2020 season in nail-biter over Washington

Tae Crowder Giants
New York Giants linebacker Tae Crowder (48) runs back a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter against the Washington Football Team at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

When it mattered the most, the New York Giants’ defense came up big to secure their first victory of the season and the first win of Joe Judge’s career as Big Blue head coach, denying Washington Football Team’s two-point conversion with 36 seconds remaining to secure a 20-19 triumph on Sunday afternoon.

The Giants (1-5) were carrying a seven-point lead inside four minutes to go when linebacker Tae Crowder — who was taken by the Giants with the last pick of the 2020 draft out of Georgia — recovered a fumble from Washington quarterback Kyle Allen and returned it 43 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

With the next possession, Washington drove 75 yards on 10 plays to get within one when Allen hit Cam Sims for a 22-yard score in the final minute. But instead of going for the game-tying extra point, Washington head coach Ron Rivera opted to go for the win with the two-point conversion.

The Giants defense gave Allen nothing on the attempt, the quarterback rolling to his left while his receivers were covered, opting to loft a hoper in the front of the end zone that fell harmlessly to the turf.

New York’s defensive heroics bailed out Daniel Jones, who was limited to just 112 passing yards on 12-of-19 attempts on a day where the Giants were focused on running the football.

The Giants racked up 132 yards on the ground Sunday, including 74 from Jones and another 61 from Devonta Freeman against an aggressive Washington defensive front.

Granted, Week 6 probably should not have been as close as it was had the Giants converted more in the red zone, a version of the offense that continued to misfire.

Entering Sunday converting on just 4-of-13 red-zone trips, the Giants stalled out on the Washington 11-yard-line on their opening drive when Jones was sacked on a 3rd-&-11, forcing them to settle for a Graham Gano 33-yard field goal to put them in front.

James Bradberry got the Giants back the ball quickly after intercepting Allen — his second pick of the year — and returning down to the Washington 27-yard-line.

The red zone wasn’t the needed path for Jones to break his passing touchdown drought — which was a Giants franchise record of 145 pass attempts without a score — as he subsequently hit Darius Slayton for a 23-yard score on a lofted dime to the back-left corner of the end zone.

It was Jones’ first touchdown passes since a pair to none other than Slayton in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Washington threatened to take a chunk out of the Giants’ lead, driving down to New York’s 23-yard-line, but Leonard Williams came up with a 13-yard sack of Allen to stop any Washington momentum, forcing a field goal instead.

It was Williams’ third sack of the season after he had just 0.5 last year.

The Giants streaked right back into dangerous territory behind a 49-yard scramble from Jones down the left sideline, but they sputtered in the red zone yet again to settle for Gano’s second field goal of the day to go up 13-3 with 6:15 remaining in the first half.

In the final seconds of the half, Washington cut the Giants’ lead to just three heading into the break when Kyle Allen’s fade was taken down beautifully by Logan Thomas from five yards out, capping off their longest drive of the season at 13 plays, 70 yards.

The drive was fueled by a running-into-the-punter penalty at the Giants’ 45-yard-line after Washington was faced with a 4th-&-9. Rather than re-punt, Rivera opted to go for it and Allen hit Dontrelle Inman for a first down to keep the drive alive.

New York was poised to pick up some breathing room, driving down to Washington’s seven-yard-line late in the third quarter, but Jones’ rare clean game came to an end when he couldn’t get enough of a pass under pressure to launch it out of the back of the end zone. Instead, it was intercepted by a diving Kendall Fuller to give Washington the ball and momentum heading into the fourth quarter.

Washington would reel off a mammoth drive of 14 plays following the Fuller pick to tie the game with a 28-yard Hopkins field goal with 8:56 to go.

With Washington driving for a go-ahead score, the Giants defense came up with its largest play of the season as Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell got to Allen, who coughed it up while falling.

There waiting was Crowder, who scooped it up and rumbled 43 yards for the Giants score with 3:29 remaining.