LANDOVER, Md. — The Washington Redskins entered play Monday with a 10-game losing streak in Monday night home games, a streak that dated back to October 1997.
However, the team didn’t have Robert Griffin III at quarterback in any of those defeats.
Griffin and fellow rookie sensation Alfred Morris produced the last scoring drive of a back-and-forth NFC East struggle, and the Redskins edged the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants 17-16.
The victory, the third in three weeks for the Redskins (6-6) against an NFC East rival, drew Washington into a second-place tie with the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants (7-5) lead the division.
“We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy,” Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora said of the NFC East race. “We have to find a way to close this thing out.”
The Redskins, who hadn’t won three straight since Weeks 2-5 of 2008, have also topped last year’s victory total with four games left.
“This is the best win since I’ve been here,” said Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield, a 2011 arrival whose defense held his former team to a field goal in the second half. “Three in a row in the division; we’re back in the race.”
For that, the Redskins can thank their rookie stars.
Griffin completed 13 of 21 passes for 163 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He also ran five times for 72 yards to set an NFL rookie season record by a quarterback with 707 rushing yards. However, Morris was even more dominant, running 22 times for 124 yards, including the final first down that enabled Griffin to kneel on the last play.
“Everyone is talking about RGIII,” Washington receiver Santana Moss said. “We all know he’s the show around here. But without that guy in that backfield, I don’t think he could do it by his self.”
Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon had eight catches for 106 yards, including the winning touchdown on an 8-yard pass from Griffin early in the fourth quarter.
Eli Manning completed 20 of 33 passes for 280 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw gained 103 yards on 24 carries, and teammate Victor Cruz finished with five receptions for 104 yards.
However, the Giants did little on offense after leading 13-10 at halftime.
“I don’t know what happened in the second half,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin lamented. “We certainly didn’t come out to play. … Just very disappointing.”
New York’s halftime edge was in jeopardy after Griffin executed a nifty play-fake and raced 46 yards to the Giants’ 15-yard line early in the third quarter. But on the next play, Chase Blackburn stripped the ball from Morris. Fellow New York linebacker Keith Rivers recovered at the 9.
Two plays later, Cruz beat Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall for a 50-yard catch to set up Lawrence Tynes’ 35-yard field goal that doubled the lead to six points with 3:09 left in the third quarter.
On Washington’s next possession, Leonard Hankerson’s 14-yard grab on second-and-7 at the New York 22 set up Griffin’s scoring strike to Garcon that ended a 12-play, 86-yard march.
Washington’s defense then recorded its first three-and-out of the night with outside linebacker Rob Jackson sacking Manning on third down. Griffin and Co. managed just one first down before punting.
New York took over at its 20. Bradshaw reached 100 yards for the night on the first snap. A unnecessary roughness call on safety Madieu Williams on the next play moved the ball to the New York 43, but the Redskins ultimately forced a punt. Morris carried on four of the final seven plays as Washington ran out the clock.
Tynes tucked a 39-yard field goal inside the left goal post to finish an 11-play, 69-yard drive that took 6:32 and gave the Giants a 3-0 lead with 6:22 to go in the first quarter. Manning went 4-for-5 for 54 yards on the possession.
Griffin got an assist on Washington’s go-ahead touchdown four plays later. He ran to his left and was hit by New York safety Stevie Brown. The ball popped 3 yards forward to Washington’s Josh Morgan, who took it the final 13 yards into the end zone for a 7-3 advantage.
Bradshaw’s running powered New York’s next drive. However, an intentional-grounding call eventually forced Tynes to attempt a 43-yarder that sailed wide left 1:40 into the second quarter.
The Giants’ next drive started at their 15. Manning converted a third down with a 6-yard pass to wide-open receiver Hakeem Nicks. On the next third down, Cruz got between three Redskins for a 30-yard catch. Tight end Martellus Bennett was left alone and rumbled 24 yards to the Washington 14. Bradshaw carried three times for 10 yards before Manning hit Bennett over the middle for the 4-yard touchdown that gave the visitors the lead back, 10-7.
However, Garcon turned consecutive slant passes from Griffin into gains of 18 and 35 yards to set up Kai Forbath’s 33-yard field goal that tied the game, 10-10, with 41 seconds left in the half.
The Washington defense couldn’t hang on until halftime. Bennett’s 28-yard catch made New York 8-for-10 on third downs and gave Tynes enough time to connect on a 40-yarder as the half expired.
NOTES: Giants right tackle Sean Locklear was carted off with 5:15 remaining. … Redskins linebacker London Fletcher played in his league-leading 236th consecutive game despite missing most of last week’s practices with a sprained left ankle. … The Giants lost reserve safety Tyler Sash to a hamstring injury during the first quarter. … Bryan Kehl, a Giants linebacker from 2008-10, made his Redskins debut.