Giants-Redskins: Even quarters save offensive performance

Jim Mancari, Contributor

The Giants’ offense played well enough in even-numbered quarters to earn a 24-17 win Sunday night over the Redskins.

Two touchdowns in the second quarter and a touchdown and field goal in the fourth quarter made up for two inept looking quarters: the first and third.

Big Blue went three and out on both of its first quarter drives, while the third quarter featured two punts and Eli Manning’s 18th interception of the season.

Still, the positives from the offensive performance outweighed the negatives just enough for the Giants to win their fifth game of the season.

Besides the interception – in which Manning threw off his back foot – Eli had a good night, completing 22-of-28 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown. Granted, many of these were short dump offs, but he made clutch throws when necessary.

Victor Cruz had a huge second half, including three grabs for first downs. He finished the game with six catches for 80 yards, and he remains Manning most consistent target.

Brandon Myers had his best performance since Week 2, catching five passes for 61 yards and a touchdown – that almost slipped right through his hands. He also made a huge heads-up play when he reached the ball across the first down marker to pick up a key third-down conversion. Maybe he’s finally starting to grasp this offense; it only took 13 weeks.

Big Blue’s running game was not as effective as it had been in recent weeks. With Brandon Jacobs sidelined with a knee injury, Peyton Hillis carried the ball six times for 43 yards, but the bulk of that yardage came on one 27-yard run.

Andre Brown had a tough time getting going, finishing with just 35 yards on 12 carries. But he did manage two touchdowns: a 23-yard run for the Giants’ first score of the game and a one-yard-run in the fourth quarter to put Big Blue ahead for good.

The offensive line had a bit of a rough go of it in this one. Redskins’ linebacker Brian Orakpo manhandled Will Beatty multiple times, and Manning seemed like he was constantly under duress. Eli was able to escape the pressure more often than not, but he was still sacked three times for a combined 29 yards lost.

After a dismal first quarter, the Giants turned to a no-huddle offense, and it seemed to energize the unit, as Tom Coughlin said at halftime. Any sort of change was bound to spark the team’s dismal start. The Giants managed just five total yards in the first quarter but rebounded to gain 160 in the second quarter.

Another game and another middling performance from Hakeem Nicks. He was only targeted twice, but he caught both passes and both catches wound up going for first downs. It really seems though that this offense is preparing itself for life without Nicks.

The Giants have an incredibly challenging upcoming schedule with games against the Chargers, Seahawks, Lions and Redskins. All this team can do is control how it plays; any help from the Cowboys or Eagles at this point would be a bonus.

Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.