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Game Preview: Giants at Redskins

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Game Preview: Giants at Redskins

What: Giants (7-4) vs. Redskins (5-6)

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.

When: Monday, 8:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live: Comcast SportsNet 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

One of the enduring images from the forgettable first half of the Redskins’ season was Giants’ wide receiver Victor Cruz performing a celebratory salsa in the end zone in the waning moments of the teams’ Oct. 21 meeting.

Moments earlier, Cruz had raced through the heart of Washington’s secondary and hauled in a 77-yard, game-clinching touchdown without so much as being touched by a defender. As a result, certain victory had been snatched from the Redskins’ grasp.

“We were supposed to win that game,” defensive end Stephen Bowen said this week. “The good thing is we get another opportunity, and we’re still right in the mix.”

Indeed, the NFC East rivals meet again on Monday Night Football in a pivotal matchup for both teams. A Redskins’ win would catapult them back into the race for the division and wild card. A Giants’ win, however, would give them a commanding three-game division lead with four games left to play.

"We understand where our record is and what we have to do," Coach Mike Shanahan said. "Our goal is to win the NFC East, and to do that, we have to play well."

And like the teams’ first encounter, big plays – both for and against – will be paramount for the Redskins, who will be hosting their first meaningful game in December since 2007.

Obviously, the defense must eliminate long plays from scrimmage for Eli Manning and Co. Another touchdown like Cruz’s – or Dez Bryant’s 85-yarder on Thanksgiving – could, in fact, end the Redskins' season.

On the other side of the ball, Washington’s offense will aim to extend a recent run of producing long, game-changing plays. In the past two games – season-saving victories over the Eagles and Cowboys – Robert Griffin III has thrown a team-record eight touchdowns. Four of those passes have come from 49 or more yards out. He had only two such scoring passes the previous nine contests.

New York’s defense, meantime, ranks 25th in passing yards allowed per game (253) and 30th in yards per reception (12.8). So the opportunity to go deep should be available to Griffin and his resurgent corps of receivers.

“We’re hitting things that we weren’t hitting earlier in the year,” Griffin said this week. “We’re able to do things were weren’t able to do [because] our receivers are playing at a high level. We’ve [also] added some elements to the passing game that make us more dangerous, so they’ll prepare for that and we'll see what happens.”

Here are the other storylines the team at www.csnwashington.com will be monitoring throughout the game:

1-Rookie running back Alfred Morris needs only 18 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. Only 10 running backs in franchise history have reached the plateau and it’s only been done 22 times by a Redskin. Morris would also become the first to accomplish the feat since Clinton Portis in 2008 and only the second rookie.

2-Takeways, as always, will be “crucial,” according to nose tackle Barry Cofield. In each of the past two victories, the Redskins defense has forced three turnovers. In the losses to Steelers and Panthers, the unit forced none.

“It’s definitely not a coincidence. For me, our two worse losses were the Pittsburgh and Carolina games,” Cofield said. “That’s a stat Coach Shanahan put in front of us. Turnovers can cover up out shortcomings on defense and are something that can propel the offense.”

3-Although Pierre Garçon lined up for only 29 of the offensive snaps against the Cowboys, the wide receiver’s contributions were undeniable. He had four receptions for 86 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown.

“It helped me to be more comfortable and more confident,” said Garçon, who added that his foot injury continues to improve and that he’s learning to cope with – and perform despite – the discomfort. “It’s getting better; there’s progress.”

4-Milestone watch: If London Fletcher’s ailing left ankle allows him to suit up, as expected, he’ll extend his league-leading consecutive games streak to 236. …If Griffin rushes for 65 yards, he’ll break Cam Newton’s record for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback (706). …An interception for DeAngelo Hall would be his 40th and make him one of only six active players with as many. ...The Redskins will be seeking to end a 10-game losing streak at home on Monday night.

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

NEW ORLEANS — Collectively, the Redskins squandered a great road win on Sunday.

The team coughed up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, and allowed Drew Brees and the Saints to pull off an incredible, unbelievable comeback win. 

The Redskins deserve the blame. The players and coaches. But they're not alone. 

The referees made a terrible intentional grounding call late in the fourth quarter that cost the Redskins precious time and real estate.

Kirk Cousins very obviously threw the ball away to stop the clock, and the quarterback was very obviously not under duress from the Saints pass rush.

In no fashion was the throw grounds for a flag.

None. 

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LOSS TO SAINTS

Yet, the refs penalized Cousins and the Redskins. As much as replay bogs down the sport, Jay Gruden had no recourse, the flag could not be challenged, and the 'Skins were thrust out of field goal position.

Late Sunday night, a report showed that NFL officials contacted Redskins team president Bruce Allen to say the call was wrong. Whoop de do. That means nothing, and Cousins knows it. 

"Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.," Cousins said Monday speaking on 106.7 the Fan

And he's right.

RELATED: DEAR FANS, STOP WITH THE 'FIRE GRUDEN' TALK

"This is our careers, this is our livelihood," Cousins said. "It is frustrating when a letter is really all you get when it has such a major impact on the direction of our lives."

Cousins' future, Gruden's future, countless other players and coaches, they don't get to hang a sign that says, "The NFL blew a call."

For the third straight offseason, Cousins will be without a contract, and a long-term deal remains anything but certain. This loss, and that call, could impact those contract talks. 

This loss, and that call, could impact coaching changes or draft strategy too. By dropping to 4-6, the Redskins seem unlikely to push for a playoff spot now. Might the organization think differently of their franchise QB if the team fails to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons? Sure, that could definitely happen. Should it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? It could. 

Don't misunderstand: The Redskins blew a 15-point lead in three minutes. That's abysmal. That's absurd. One penalty flag didn't change that. 

But it was a huge penalty, and it was a terrible call. 

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Cousins played nearly flawless in New Orleans, connecting for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards. His most important pass, however, was one that was harmlessly into the ground, with no intended receiver. 

"I'm thinking, well [Jamison] Crowder and [Josh] Doctson are over there. If I literally throw it over their heads, they're in the area, they're eligible receivers. Not to mention, if I'm not under pressure, it's not intentional grounding," Cousins said. 

It's not intentional grounding. Cousins knows it. The NFL knows it. But it doesn't matter now. 

"The difference between a team that’s patting everybody on the back at the end of the season and a team that everybody gets fired, the difference can be a few plays, it can be a call by a referee," Cousins said. "It's a very fragile thing."

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League admits to getting Kirk Cousins' intentional grounding call wrong, per report

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USA TODAY Sports

League admits to getting Kirk Cousins' intentional grounding call wrong, per report

NEW ORLEANS—The Redskins apparently were on the wrong end of a bad call late in their game against the Saints on Sunday and, according to a report, the league admitted it.

Per Mike Jones of USA Today, a league official told Redskins president Bruce Allen that intentional grounding should not have been called against Kirk Cousins with the game tied with 28 seconds left in regulation on Sunday.

The rule is clear. From the NFL rule book:

It is a foul for intentional grounding if a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage because of pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion.

There wasn’t a Saints defender within a few yards of Cousins when he threw the ball. The pass was not to prevent a sack, it was a mixup with receiver Jamison Crowder.

MORE REDSKINS: A BRUTAL FINAL SIX MINUTES

But the men in stripes conferred and dropped a flag. The penalty was 10 yards, a loss of down, and a 10-second clock runoff. So instead of second and 10 at the 34 with time to run a few more plays, it was second and 20 at the 44 with time running out. The Redskins have every right to believe that they were robbed.

However, they also robbed themselves. The litany of self-inflicted problems is there for anyone who watched the game to see. From not being able to get a touchdown on the board early after D.J. Swearinger’s interception in Saints territory, to committing a false start lining up for a field goal try near the end of the first half, to the inability to get a yard on third and one and to the helplessness of the defense against Drew Brees in the final six minutes of regulation. The mistake by referee Walt Coleman’s crew was glaring but it was far from the only entry on the list of reasons the Redskins lost.

RELATED: TANDLER'S FIVE TAKEAWAYS

The thing is, it shouldn’t have been on the list at all. At least one official on the field is always able to communicate with the suits at 345 Park Avenue. They handle the replays from the league office and we get all kinds of strange interpretations of what a catch is or isn’t. Why can’t someone in New York get in the ear of someone in stripes on the field and say, “Hey, don’t drop that flag, he wasn’t under pressure?”

The technology to prevent a misinterpretation of the rules by the officials on the field is in place right now. It could be done with minimal disruption to the game. It’s a crime that the league won’t use it.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.