The Washington Redskins and the New York Giants are both 3-2, but their paths have been quite different. The Redskins have played in two of the NFL’s four overtime games this season, and two more of their games went down to the wire. By contrast, the smallest scoring margin of any Giants game, win or loss, this season was 13 points—nearly two touchdowns. Both teams won yesterday, and both did so in their respective typical fashions.
The Green Bay Packers came to D.C. as, one-quarter of the way through the season (say that ain’t so), the tentatively declared best team in the NFC, and through the first three quarters—after which the Packers held a 13-3 lead playing on the road against a good defense—that looked plausible. But the Skins, led by veteran Donovan McNabb at the top of his form, were able to come back, and, with the aid of a missed 53-yard Packers field goal (which isn’t exactly luck—53 yards is very long, especially outdoors!), tie the game at the end of regulation. The Skins held the Packers, who won the coin toss, and then drove down to give their kicker a 33-yarder, which he sank for the win. Final score of the Lombardi Bowl (these are the only two teams the great Vince Lombardi head-coached): 16-13.
Was it the prettiest win? No, no: The Skins gave up five sacks, achieved fewer offensive yards than their opponents, and continued their season-long habit of getting down early (the one game in which they built a significant opening lead, against the St. Louis Rams, ended up a loss). They still could not run the ball that well. They still have not demonstrated they have more than two or three viable receivers (Anthony Armstrong did have a stand-out catch for his first NFL touchdown). However, short of next week (against the Colts), and those December games where they have to play the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants away, this had to have been accounted one of their four toughest games of the season, and they won it. It is the type of win a playoff-bound team makes.
The Giants get crushed when they lose, and crush when they win, and yesterday was no exception. The Houston Texans—the same team that outlasted the Redskins, 30-27, in a Week 2 overtime game—were held to a vomit-worthy 24 yards on the ground in the Giants’ 34-10 victory, which featured two passing touchdowns to boot (and very nearly a third). Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith have to be one of the finest receiving-corps 1-2 punches in the League. And they did it on the road—a road win! This, too, is the type of win a playoff-bound team makes. With the Cowboys having gone 1-3 yesterday, and the Eagles in their seemingly never-ending state of flux (though they, as well, are 3-2), the NFC East might come down to a competition between these two of Tablet Magazine’s teams.
And the third? The New England Patriots, of the AFC East, had their bye this week, well-earned after squishing the fish in Miami last Monday night, but that did not stop them from making news: They traded future-Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss back to his original team, the Minnesota Vikings, who play at the New York Jets tonight. Make no mistake: Pats Coach/GM/guru Bill Belichick certainly had his reasons, and he deserves our benefit of the doubt. But make no mistake in the other direction: Randy Moss is one of the greatest wide receivers of all time. Below: All 23 of his touchdown catches from the 2007 season. Recognize and respect.
Our record: 9-5.
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.