LANDOVER, Md. — The Giants played without their unquestioned leader on defense for the first time this season, but they undoubtedly made injured safety Landon Collins proud with an exceptional performance in a 40-16 win over the Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field.
“Obviously, we were missing our captain and it was on our mind to do it for him today,” safety Michael Thomas said of Collins, who is on injured reserve with a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder. “It was on everybody’s mind to go out there and put it on tape.”
The Giants dominated an injury-weakened Redskins offense and former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who performed abysmally in his first start since replacing injured quarterback Colt McCoy last week. The Giants limited Sanchez to 6-for-14 passing for 38 yards and two interceptions and he finished with a 10.7 rating. He was replaced in the second half by former Giants backup Josh Johnson, who led the team’s only two scoring drives.
Sanchez was picked off by safety Curtis Riley late in the first quarter, with Riley returning it nine yards for the Giants’ first touchdown. Riley dropped a sure interception in last week’s overtime win against the Bears.
“Every time you mess up, you can’t let it get you down,” Thomas said. “Everybody’s counting on you. Everybody needs you.”
It was the Giants’ third return touchdown in the last four games.
Middle linebacker Alec Ogletree intercepted Sanchez on a short pass over the middle in the second quarter. That set up Eli Manning’s 3-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard, which made it 24-0 with 7:42 left before the half.
“We were just playing well, firing on all cylinders,” Ogletree said. “Guys were making plays in the running game and the passing game. We were able to get our hands on a couple balls today, a pick-6 by Curtis and I had [an interception].”
The Giants got consistently good pressure on Sanchez, who was sacked five times for a loss of 29 yards.
“Guys up front were getting after it today, attacking the offensive line,” Ogletree said. “We knew they were kind of shuffling a lot of guys in there. It was just a lot of guys going out there and doing their job and dominating. We wanted to do that today and guys were able to accomplish that.”
The Giants were particularly good against the run, an area of concern the last several weeks. Adrian Peterson was held to 16 yards on 10 carries.
“We haven’t been doing too well in the run game these last few weeks,” Ogletree said, “so it was definitely needed.”
It was especially needed after last week’s 30-27 overtime win over the Bears, as defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s unit surrendered a late lead to force the extra session. What was the difference?
“Every play that the coach was calling was working,” Janoris Jenkins said. “Now we just got to keep playing.”