Welcome to another edition of “What Happened Last Night?” – our attempt to synthesize the sports news of note from the previous evening and give it to you in easily digestible form, just in case you missed it. Now, if you were out of the sport loop last night, that means you passed up a chance to watch Robert Griffin III play, so I’m not sure why you would have been. But hey, to each his/her own, I suppose. Let’s learn you a thing or two.
The Redskins are very much alive, and the Giants are doing what they always do.
Why, it seems like just a month ago that Mike Shanahan was saying the rest of the Redskins season was for “evaluation” purposes, while the Giants were 6-2 and rounding into top form. And that, of course, is because it was just a month ago. But that’s where the parity of the NFL comes in – things are fluid and can (and do) change in an extremely short time. And that’s how we find ourselves where we are now – the Giants clinging to a one-game lead over the Cowboys and those very same Redskins, following a 17-16 Washington win over the Giants on Monday Night Football last night.
One major takeaway from last night’s action is merely a continuation of something we’ve seen all year: the Redskins have a couple really damn good rookies on offense. RGIII, rightly the more ballyhooed of the first-year stars, got the job done again, completing 13 of 21 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown with no picks, and running five times for 72 yards (including a 46-yarder in which he was dragged down by his jersey, otherwise he’d have gone all the way). But don’t sleep on running back Alfred Morris. The sixth-round pick went over 1,000 yards on the season with 124 yards on 22 carries, though he did lose a fumble.
When your two key cogs on offense play that well, you’re going to be tough to beat. When you also score a touchdown on an incredibly lucky play (more on that in a bit), you’ll be even tougher to beat. And when your opponent commits nine penalties – one of which nullified a crucial third-down conversion late – while their vaunted pass rush doesn’t produce a single sack, well, it’ll be kind of amazing that you still almost lose.
Apparently last week’s blowout of the Packers was a mirage – losing three out of four during a critical stretch like this confirms we’re firmly entrenched in a “the Giants screw everything up” portion of the schedule. The only question is whether the outcome is “overcome it just in time and win the Super Bowl” or “see you in 2013.” Tom Coughlin’s got some work to do whipping this crew back into shape, and with the division lead down to a game, he’s no longer working with the luxury of a margin for error.
Around the Association…
No marquee matchups last night, but it’s the NBA. There’s always something interesting going on. Like the Trail Blazers overcoming a 17-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter and escaping with a 118-112 overtime win over the Bobcats. Hard not to feel a little bad for the ‘Cats, who looked like they were on their way to a solid win to snap a three-game losing streak. Damian Lillard, who had a rough night for the most part, heated up during the Blazers’ late rally and finished with 24 points and nine assists. You could even say he made Bobcats defenders look statuesque at times. The Blazers got a gem in their young point guard.
Elsewhere, the Pistons beat the Cavs, the still-Davis-and-Gordon-less Hornets easily beat the Bucks 102-81 thanks to some remarkably clean play (29 assists, eight turnovers), and the Nuggets and Clippers narrowly held off the Raptors and Jazz, respectively. And big credit to the Magic: they won their second in row on the West Coast, 102-94 over the Warriors, who had been 6-2 at home previously. I jokingly endorsed Jacque Vaughn for coach of the year honors after the Magic won their first two. Following that, the team fell back to earth, as expected. But if they can keep playing like this? “Jacque Vaughn for COY!” won’t be a joke anymore.
Photos via Getty