Howard Cross: ‘Offensive Line Kept Eli Clean’

For the third straight week, the New York Giants had a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. This time, they actually held it.

The Giants beat the Redskins, 32-21, in East Rutherford on Thursday night to notch their first win of the season.

How far does this win go in covering what the Giants endured in each of their first two losses?

“I think it goes a long, long way,” former Super Bowl champion and current Giants radio host Howard Cross said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think they did something that we didn’t really expect in shutting down the Redskins’ run game. The Redskins have a dynamic run game: two great backs in (Alfred) Morris and (Matt) Jones. They just seem to be able to do whatever they want. Morris and Jones do whatever they want. They always make the play.”

On Thursday, they didn’t. Jones and Morris combined for 17 carries for 57 yards (3.4 yards per carry) and zero touchdowns. Jones almost had a touchdown but fumbled before crossing the goal line, which resulted in a touchback.

“The Giants shut them down,” Cross said. “They held them under 100 yards rushing (and made) Kirk Cousins (be) the guy that has to beat you.”

Cousins couldn’t. He finished 30-of-49 for 316 yards, one garbage-time touchdown and two interceptions.

Cross felt the Giants looked focused and sharp defensively.

“They focused on the small things,” Cross said. “You didn’t see them making a lot of mental mistakes on the field. I think they kind of did (keep some drives alive) later on because they kept (getting called for) pass interference or illegal touching or grabbing when the ball was thrown downfield. That’s because you can only cover for so long. If they can’t get pressure on the quarterback, they’re going to have to grab and hold a little bit to try to keep guys out of the end zone.”

The offense, meanwhile, scored a season-high 32 points. The running game still struggled – the Giants ran 31 times for 84 yards (2.7 yards per carry) – but the passing game more than made up for it. Eli Manning finished 23-of-32 for 279 yards and two touchdowns.

“I thought the offensive line did a good job of keeping Eli clean,” Cross said. “I think they may have had a couple quarterback hits, but there were no sacks in the game. The screen game, which is something that the Giants have rarely been good at, looked really good tonight. They ran a couple really nice screens, got 18 yards on a 1st-and-20. That was impressive.”

Odell Beckham Jr. continued to impress, finishing with seven catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.

“The kid’s got special talent,” Cross said. “He has great ability to catch the ball. His hands are incredible – and I do mean incredible. He reaches back over guys, he reaches around guys, he stretches over the sideline – he caught a ball tonight almost sliding on his back trying to stay in bounds to catch it for the first down. He really has great dexterity with his hands and hand-eye coordination.”

Amy Lawrence wondered if Beckham should be getting even more targets than the 9.7 per game he’s averaging. Cross doesn’t know if that’s possible, especially once Victor Cruz (calf) returns.

“Once (Rueben) Randle, Cruz and ODB are in the game at the same time, I don’t know if you can target him more,” Cross said. “But there’s going to be a lot of balls in the air.”

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