- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There were times when the Giants players were going in the wrong direction, falling for pump fakes or were unable to see where the ball was.
Then there was that fourth-and-10 play in which a scrambling Robert Griffin III made the Giants look as if they were the Washington Generals trying to catch up to the Harlem Globetrotters.
In their first meeting with the Washington Redskins' franchise savior, the Giants learned RG3 is the truth before escaping with a 27-23 comeback thriller.
"That guy is flat-out unbelievable," Osi Umenyiora said. "I am not going to lie. Best quarterback we have played this year for sure."
But on a day when Eli Manning struggled for most of the afternoon with two interceptions, the Giants' defense stood up and gave Tom Coughlin's team a much-needed lift for most of the second half.
One week after suffocating the San Francisco 49ers and picking off Alex Smith twice and collecting six sacks, the Giants forced four turnovers in the final 23 minutes against a team that came into the game with five turnovers the entire season.
The Giants forced and recovered three fumbles, intercepted Griffin and sacked the rookie another three times. And the scary thing is Griffin still nearly pulled out the victory.
Jason Pierre-Paul told reporters last week that RG3 better not run to his side. And JPP came up big with a sack and a forced fumble, even celebrating his sack by mimicking the latest dance craze "Gangnam Style" from the popular Korean music video.
It seemed fitting, because the Giants were playing against the latest sensation to take the NFL by storm.
"I am pretty mad at the football gods for putting him in the NFC East," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "To face that guy twice a year is going to be a headache."
Manning won the game with a 77-yard touchdown bomb to Victor Cruz with 1:13 remaining, but if the defense didn't stop Griffin and the Redskins as many times as it did in the second half, there might not have been a chance for Manning to pull off another dramatic comeback.
"This was a do-or-die game for us," safety Antrel Rolle said.
The Giants avoided going a disastrous 0-3 in the NFC East by outlasting the new kid on the block.
Griffin and Alfred Morris rushed for a combined 209 yards. The quarterback accounting for 89 of them, a number the Giants could live with after he posted 138 yards rushing last week against Minnesota.
The Redskins had 136 rushing yards in the first half, but the Giants made some subtle adjustments in the second half and the result was two fumble recoveries and an interception on three consecutive Redskins drives.
The Giants played disciplined for much of the second half, even taking out Redskins runners who didn't have the ball on fake handoffs to make sure they accounted for everybody. They couldn't take anything for granted against RG3, who looked like a magician almost every time he ran the option.
"I thought Navy was tough, Air Force, those guys I played in college," Tuck, who played at Notre Dame, said of schools that run the same offensive attack. "It is frustrating, it really is. You make a great pass rush and they can outrun you. You think it is pass and it is run and you think it is run and it is pass."
The Giants still found a way to slow down Washington's attack. After Manning threw an interception at the Giants' 32 right after Pierre-Paul hit Griffin to force a fumble, the defense held Washington to a field goal that cut the Giants' lead to 20-16.
After the Giants were forced to punt, the defense needed to make another stand to put the game away. But with 2:59 remaining, Griffin put together a drive that showed the Giants and everybody else watching just how special he is.
There was a fourth-and-10 at the Redskins' 23 in which Griffin pulled out a highlight scramble from his bag of never-ending tricks, eluding Pierre-Paul and Umenyiora and converting with a 19-yard pass.
On the next play, Griffin eluded an oncoming rush and broke free down the right sideline for 24 yards. It felt very much like Vick's fourth-quarter comeback against the Giants in that 2010 game here that Giants fans would rather erase from memory.
"He made a play where I had to dive for him and he still ran around me like he was just out there playing in the back yard," Tuck said. "It is an eerie feeling when you get up off the ground and you look up and that quick, he is already 30 yards down the field."
The crowd at MetLife seemed in shock and in awe of Griffin at the same time.
But the Giants' defense got a second chance, thanks to Manning and Cruz. And it made sure not to let Griffin complete another comeback.
On a second-and-10 at the Redskins' 32 with 46 seconds left, Griffin completed a pass to Moss for 11 yards but Chase Blackburn stripped the receiver and Hosley recovered with 39 seconds left to finally stop RG3.
The Giants let out a collective sigh of relief. Their first encounter with RG3 was in the books. The Giants won their first battle with Griffin but they also know this is only a preview of what is to come twice a year from now on.
"It is unfortunate that he is a rookie because he is going to be around here forever doing stuff like that," Umenyiora said. "And that is just crazy."
He added: "We escaped."
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