Landover, Md. • Given that the New York Giants were once 0-6 with injuries mounting, it's quite the feat that they're not the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention in the NFC East.
The Giants are soldiering on with postseason hopes alive in December, having won five of six, while Washington is officially going nowhere.
New York rallied from an early two-touchdown deficit to beat Washington 24-17 Sunday night, keeping the Giants (5-7) two games behind division leaders Dallas and Philadelphia with four to play.
"We're almost accustomed to putting ourselves in bad situations," said Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, who had four sacks in the second half.
Washington (3-9) won't be repeating its NFC East title. It's lost four straight and won't be in the playoffs for the 17th time in 21 years. The NFL gave the team five prime-time games this season; they lost all five.
"When you're out of it, yeah, it's very disappointing. ... You don't like to play for pride," Washington coach Mike Shanahan said, "but sometimes that's the card that's dealt, and that's where we're at right now."
Here are five morsels from the game that separated hope from no-hope:
STREAKY ELI: Eli Manning had a streak of 10 completions, including a 22-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Myers in the second quarter that tied the game at the half. He also a high throw tipped for his 18th interception and remains on course to have more interceptions than touchdown passes for the first time since his rookie season. Washington had three sacks, which means Manning has been brought down a career-high 31 times this season.
But Manning's final numbers weren't too shabby 22 for 28 for 235 yards and it's hard to ignore the back-to-back clutch throws to Myers (18 yards) and Victor Cruz (19) that set up Andre Brown's 1-yard touchdown run that put the Giants ahead for good early in the fourth quarter.
STREAKY RG3: Griffin completed his first 12 passes and was running the read option as if it were 2012 all over again. Then, for the second consecutive week, a Washington opponent adjusted and shut him down. Griffin was 16 for 17 for 149 yards in the first half and just 8 for 15 for 58 yards in the second. His final line: 24 for 32 for 207 yards and a season-high 88 yards rushing on 12 carries. He wasn't sacked in the first half, but he went down five times after halftime.
"You don't want to take your foot off the gas pedal," Washington guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. "They were able to answer back, and we knew they had the weapons to do that. Offensively, we had to score more, and we came up short. I guess we'll have to own up on that one."
TUCK RULES: Tuck was one of the symbols of the underperforming Giants with only 2Â½ sacks on the season until he brought down Griffin four times. Jon Beason tied a career-high with 17 tackles in a game played without defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) and cornerback Corey Webster (ankle), just the latest in a constant parade of New York injuries.
"If I was standing here with four sacks and a loss, I wouldn't give 2 cents, but we got a win," Tuck said. "I played pretty good tonight."
SNAP JUDGMENT: Washington is good for at least one special teams gaffe per game, and this one swung the momentum. Long snapper Kyle Nelson sent a bouncing grounder back to punter Sav Rocca, leading to a blocked punt that traveled 18 yards and was compounded by a holding penalty on Nelson that added 10 yards to the final spot.
The Giants took over at Washington's 46 and needed only four plays to score the go-ahead touchdown.
"Long story short: Shouldn't have happened," Nelson said.
WHAT DOWN WAS IT?: Washington was driving for a possible tying score in the final minutes when the chain gang goofed, setting up as if Washington had made a first down when the officials were signaling third down.
The mistake altered Washington's play-calling, but it ended up getting the necessary yards anyway with a fourth-and-1, 6-yard pass to Pierre Garcon only to have Garcon stripped by safety Will Hill, allowing New York to run out the clock.
Even so, Shanahan was clearly bothered by the sequence when asked about it after the game.
"I told him I wanted a measurement, because I knew it was close. It was inches. And he said, 'No, it's a first down.' And he moved the chains," Shanahan said. "And then after I saw it was fourth down, I asked him, 'You already told me it was first down.' He didn't say anything. So that was quite disappointing."
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