Painter, Washington make great connection

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The ultimate outcome of an NFL preseason game is essentially meaningless, but don't tell that to Curtis Painter and Corey Washington.

Painter found Washington in the back-corner of the end zone with just under three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter Saturday night, for the game-winning points in the New York Giants' 20-16 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

For two players fighting an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster, it was a play that could pay immense dividends.

Washington, the undrafted rookie free agent from Division II Newberry College, has now scored a touchdown in each of the Giants' two preseason games.

Last week he had a 73-yard TD catch and run against the Buffalo Bills. This time, on third-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Washington outjumped his defender and hauled the ball in for a score.

"The coach, he called a fly route and I saw that we had smaller corners on the outside," Washington said, "so I ran it and the corner was holding me so I kind of boxed him out and made a play on the ball."

Washington is using his height to his advantage -- at 6-foot-4, he is at least two inches taller than the 10 other wide receivers on the Giants' roster. Coach Tom Coughlin has sounded intrigued by Washington's size during training camp, and was complimentary of Washington -- who finished with three catches for 23 yards -- after the game, despite not being happy with the team's play in general.

"Corey Washington made a nice play over in the corner," Coughlin said.

The coach was also complimentary of Painter, the five-year veteran who is currently No. 3 on the Giants' quarterback depth chart. Ryan Nassib, the team's fourth-round draft pick in 2013, is being given every opportunity to win the backup QB job behind Eli Manning. Nassib gets many more snaps in practice, got much more playing time in the Giants' first preseason game against the Bills, and the same occurred against the Steelers.

Painter was more impressive Saturday night. Nassib wasn't bad, completing 12 of 21 passes for 81 yards, and standing tall in the pocket under duress at times. But Painter was a perfect 7-for-7 for 68 yards, capped off by the touchdown to Washington.

"Curtis played well," Coughlin said. "When Curtis came in, he moved the ball. It was an outstanding drive."

That was Painter's only drive, other than running out the clock at the very end, and he certainly made the most of it.

"You've just got to stay ready," Painter said. "As a backup, you never know when you're going to get your shot."

Painter and Washington still have plenty of work to do. The Giants traded up to draft Nassib a year ago, so they aren't going to give up on him easily. Washington is still listed as a fourth-stringer on the depth chart, behind Mario Manningham and Julian Talley, and alongside other players who have flashed in training camp, like Marcus Harris.

Luckily for them, we still have a long way to go, and three more preseason games to play.

"I'm just staying humble," Washington said. "It's football, it's fun to go out there and make plays and help the team get a win."

Even if it doesn't really count.