East Rutherford, N.J. — All Washington needed to avoid a dreaded 0-3 start was a couple of fourth-quarter interceptions by backups and five field goals from a guy who had never made that many in a game.
Dustin Hopkins kicked a 37-yard field goal with 1:51 to play and the defending NFC East champions got a much-needed 29-27 win over the penalty- and error-prone Giants (2-1) on Sunday.
“We needed to get that first win bad,” said cornerback Greg Toler, who played most of the game after starter Bashaud Breeland hurt an ankle early. “We couldn’t lose the first three, and we hung in there and got some real contributions from everybody. You get everyone stepping up. The coaches treat all of us the same, coaches us up whether first- or second- or third- or fourth-string like we are starters.”
The guys who really stepped up were linebacker Su’a Cravens and cornerback Quinton Dunbar.
After Hopkins put Washington ahead, the Giants got a first down at their 39 with 69 seconds to play. On the next play, quarterback Eli Manning went over the middle to Shane Vereen and Cravens dived in front of the halfback and picked it off.
Earlier in the quarter, Dunbar jumped a seam pattern pass to tight end Will Tye in the end zone and intercepted it, ending a Giants drive at the Washington 15 courtesy of an Odell Beckham catch-and-run. It kept Washington ahead 26-24.
Josh Brown would put New York ahead with a 30-yard field goal midway through the quarter, but Washington came back.
It was a game marked by Giants mistakes. They turned the ball over three times and had 11 penalties for 128 yards.
“Any time you lose against any team, no matter where they are at, it is a tough one to swallow,” receiver Victor Cruz said. “Especially one like this where we had some opportunities to put some points on the board, but you win some and you lose some, you have to learn from the losses and move on.”
The worst of the Giants’ penalties was a third-down hit to the helmet by Olivier Vernon that kept Washington’s winning drive alive.
“Everyone loves touchdowns. I love touchdowns,” Hopkins said. “When they call on me, I do the best I can to put the team in a position to win, whether they send me out there five times or once, it’s OK.”
Kirk Cousins (Michigan State) threw touchdown passes of 44 yards to DeSean Jackson and 55 to Jamison Crowder as Washington handed new Giants coach Ben McAdoo his first loss.
Shane Vereen scored on a 1-yard run, Manning threw a 23-yard TD to Sterling Shepard and Orleans Darkwa scored on a 2-yard run for New York.