The team came close — but not close enough, falling to the Giants, 20-19, in the final seconds of an up-and-down game ultimately decided by two turnovers and the final-minute decision by Rivera to go for a two-point conversion and the win, only for his offense to be unable to convert.
Quarterback Kyle Allen, having just completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cam Sims, was unable to find an open receiver on the attempt, scrambling to his left before his pass landed in the end zone without any Washington players near it. The loss dropped Washington to the bottom of the division at 1-5.
For much of the first half, Rivera’s pregame decisions seemed to have little impact, as Washington’s issues spread to every phase — offense, defense and special teams. A missed field goal ended Washington’s first drive, an interception cut short its second and two key offensive players were injured along the way, including rookie Saahdiq Charles, who was two snaps into his debut at left guard. Allen, in only his second start for Washington, took two sacks in the first half, one of which he could have avoided by throwing the ball away instead of taking a 14-yard loss.
He finished 31-of-42 in passing for 280 yards, a pair of touchdowns, one interception and a fumble. He also took three sacks and recorded a 97.3 passer rating.
The defense provided little help in the early going, but managed to turn things around. In the first half, it gave up 21 yards on a play New York ran multiple times the week prior, then it gave up a touchdown on third down before reaching its lowest point yet: Washington bit on a faked handoff from Daniel Jones, who turned and ran up the left sideline for a 49-yard gain.
Yes, the longest run for the Giants all season was from their quarterback, and it set up their third score of the day — a field goal — in as many drives.
For nearly 29 minutes to start Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium, Washington was a disaster growing more disastrous by the second, with missed tackles, head-scratching plays and the general appearance of a team wholly unprepared to face an 0-4 opponent.
But the landslide stopped in the final two minutes of the first half, when Tress Way, punting on a fourth-and-9 from New York’s 45-yard line, was hit by a Giants player, giving Washington a free 5 yards and a chance to redo their fourth down attempt.
Rivera, never one to shy away from fourth-down attempts, gladly took it and Allen connected with Dontrelle Inman for a 15-yard completion to convert. Short passes to running back J.D. McKissic and receiver Terry McLaurin moved Washington into the red zone before the Giants defense gave them a gift: a holding penalty that bumped them to the 5-yard line.
With only 17 seconds remaining in the half, Washington’s offense created the perfect symphony of misdirection. McLaurin ran a comeback that left cornerback James Bradberry stumbling over his own feet, tight end Logan Thomas ran a fade to the left corner of the end zone and Allen, falling back under pressure, threw a perfect ball. Thomas dragged the toes on both of his feet to say in bounds while securing the catch over his shoulder, bringing Washington within 3 points at the break.
The second half began with a scary moment, when New York wide receiver C.J. Board was knocked out after a hit and lay flat on his back as trainers rushed to his side. His face mask was removed as more than a dozen doctors and trainers tried to keep him stable before carting him off. Board suffered a concussion and sprained neck on the play and was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
When play resumed, Washington’s defense thwarted the Giants’ drive with a tackle for loss by Montez Sweat on a third-and-1. Although the offense sputtered for a three-and-out, the defense returned for a critical drive that could’ve resulted in New York expanding its lead to two scores. Instead, it set up a chance for Washington to tie.
Veteran cornerback Kendall Fuller was flagged for pass interference on a third-and-2 at Washington’s own 11-yard line, but on the next play he dove for an interception — his fourth of the season to match a career-high.
Washington began a 14-play, 70-yard drive that spanned nearly seven minutes and spilled into the fourth quarter. They picked up four first downs along the way, setting up the game-tying 28-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins.
On New York’s subsequent drive, the Giants converted one third-and-long, but Washington’s defense shut down a second attempt. Jones’ incomplete pass on 3rd and 6 forced the Giants to punt and put the ball back in Allen’s hands for a chance to take the lead with about seven minutes remaining.
Instead, Allen was strip-sacked on a third-and-9 and the ball was recovered by Giants linebacker Tae Crowder, who ran it back 43 yards for the touchdown.
Throughout the week, Rivera stressed consistency on both sides, and Sunday, consistency was still a significant problem. Big stops were followed by silly mistakes, but if they showed one thing of promise it was resilience. For their final drive, Washington came out swinging, as Allen completed 8-of-10 passes, including a 22-yard touchdown pass to Cam Sims, just after the team lost another receiver, Isaiah Wright, to injury.
Washington had a chance to tie it up again with 43 seconds left.
Instead of attempting the extra point, Rivera decided to go for two, with the hope his defense would ward off a late score by the Giants. But Allen failed to find a receiver, the play stalled and Washington left New York with its fourth-consecutive loss and a 1-5 record to sit at the bottom of the division.