No Odell Beckham Jr., no Landon Collins, no problem.
While one of the best receivers in the NFL was a late scratch due to a lingering injury, the Giants' defense began Sunday's 40-16 victory in Washington without its co-captain Landon Collins. The two-time Pro Bowl safety was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week after suffering a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery. The defense went out and toyed with the possibility of its first shutout since 2009.
"This one definitely was for L.C.," said veteran Michael Thomas, who started in his place. "Our defense knew we had to step up when we lost our captain, but we just wanted to make sure we came out here and just did our job. The offense, they brought it. They put a bunch of points on the board, so we just had to do our part."
The Redskins broke up the no-hitter with 11:56 left in the game, but not before the damage was done. Safety Curtis Riley, who had been starting all season opposite Collins, had a nine-yard interception return touchdown late in the first quarter, which at the time seemed like could be the only points in what had been a punters duel. The Redskins started Mark Sanchez after losing not one (Alex Smith) but two (Colt McCoy) starting quarterbacks to leg injuries in a two-week span. The former fifth overall draft pick by the Jets signed with the Redskins less than three weeks before he made his first start in three years.
"We just didn't want to give him air, so we wanted to give him different looks," Thomas said. "But at the same time, it was nothing really special. We just did our job. Everybody was communicating and flying around and making plays. That's all we wanted to do."
Before being pulled with the Giants leading 40-0 late in the third quarter, Sanchez completed six of 14 passing attempts for 38 yards with two interceptions. Alec Ogletree accounted for the second one, tying Jerry Hillebrand's single-season record for most by a linebacker (five) in franchise history. The Giants also sacked Sanchez five times, bringing their three-game total up to 13. They had just 11 in the first 10 games.
"Guys up front were just getting after it today and attacking their O-line," said Ogletree, a defensive co-captain with Collins. "We knew they were kind of shuffling around a lot of guys I guess, so for us, it was just a matter of going out there and doing your job and dominate. We wanted to do that today, and guys were able to accomplish that."
The performance came six days after Adrian Peterson had the league buzzing when he became the oldest player with a 90-yard touchdown run. That was Monday night. On Sunday, he carried the ball 10 times for 16 yards, the fifth-lowest total of the future Hall of Famer's career. In their first meeting in Week 8, Peterson sealed the Redskins' victory with a 64-yard touchdown as part of a 149-yard day.
"Obviously everybody saw the film from last week and his long run, so we knew he's still got it," said Thomas, who intercepted backup Josh Johnson on the Redskins' final offensive snap. "He had a great day against us that first time because he broke a long run late. So we wanted to make sure, hey, it starts with us stopping the run and we're going to have a great day and it takes all 11. So that was the mindset."