LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Robert Griffin III went down, the ball popped out, and the Washington Redskins scored a touchdown.
Look out, New York Giants and the rest of the NFC East. If Griffin keeps getting these kinds of breaks, it’ll be hard to keep him out of the title hunt for years to come.
As it is, RG3 has the Redskins within a game of first place after leading a fourth-quarter rally in a 17-16 Monday night victory over the Giants.
Washington has a three-game winning streak in which it has dispatched each of its division rivals — Philadelphia, Dallas and now New York — one by one.
“We know that our backs are against the wall,” Griffin said. “And even though we won tonight, our backs are still against the wall.”
But it’ll be hard to count them out whenever he’s on the field. It was his sixth game with a 100-plus passer rating, his eighth without an interception — and his second in which one of his fumbles turned into a Redskins score.
On the way to the turf after a 12-yard run, Griffin was stripped by Stevie Brown — but the ball flew right to teammate Joshua Morgan 3 yards upfield. Morgan then ran 13 yards for a first-quarter touchdown no one would ever diagram on a whiteboard.
“We didn’t run it in practice because we wanted to save it for the game,” Griffin said with a grin. “I knew he was going to be there for it. ... Joshua did a good job being in the spot where he was supposed to be.”
By Griffin’s reckoning, the Redskins (6-6) are also where they’re supposed to be after they appeared out of the running at 3-6 a month ago. One of Griffin’s goals this season was to win more games than last season’s 5-11 team.
“You can put a check by that one, but there’s a lot more goals that this team is stretching for and striving for,” Griffin said.
A division title, for instance. With the Giants (7-5) losing three of four and the Cowboys (6-6) also at .500, the NFC East is up for grabs.
“They’ve got a great opportunity to win the division,” Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck said, “just like we do. ... We let one slip away tonight, but if we handle business, we’ll still win this division.”
Griffin also broke another record, running for 72 yards to get to 714 for the season, passing Cam Newton for most by a rookie quarterback.
Griffin completed 13 of 21 passes for 163 yards and a go-ahead, 8-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon in the fourth quarter. He finished with a 101.9 QB rating.
Washington also ended a 10-game home losing streak in Monday night games, another sign that Griffin has a knack for winning on a big stage.
“If he stays healthy, he’s going to be a havoc on defenses for a long time,” Tuck said.
Garcon finished with eight receptions for 106 yards, showing no signs of the painful toe injury that forced him to miss six of the season’s first nine games.
Alfred Morris ran for 124 yards, reaching 1,106 for the season to break Reggie Brooks’ franchise rookie rushing record of 1,063, set in 1993.
Eli Manning completed 20 of 33 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown for the Giants, who had won 26 in a row on the road when holding a halftime lead.
They were ahead 13-10 at the break Monday against the Redskins, but they failed to finish the job for the first time since blowing a 21-0 halftime lead in a 24-21 loss to Tennessee in 2006.
Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 103 yards on 24 carries for New York. Victor Cruz, who caught the game-winning score when the teams met in the Meadowlands in October, had five catches for 104 yards for the Giants.
The Giants moved the ball well all game, but the drives produced three field goals by Lawrence Tynes and only one touchdown — Manning’s 4-yard pass to Martellus Bennett late in the first half.
There was also some mayhem after another Redskins fumble, this one by Morris in the third quarter. New York defensive tackle Linval Joseph yanked at Redskins center Will Montgomery’s leg while players were fighting for the ball in a pile. Montgomery kicked at Joseph in response, and Joseph stomped at Montgomery. Joseph and a Redskins player were whistled for offsetting unnecessary roughness penalties.
“I was just trying to get my leg loose,” Montgomery said. “And he ended up kicking me or stomping me or whatever he did.”
Joseph said he acted because he saw Montgomery dive into a Giants player, and that he was kicked by Montgomery in the groin. He said he went to stomp on Montgomery but stopped himself.
“It took me everything not to kick him back because I didn’t want hurt the team, and I didn’t want to get fined and none of that,” Joseph said. “I started, then I stopped.”
Notes: Redskins coach Mike Shanahan got his 171st win (regular and postseason), tying him with Redskins’ Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs for 12th all time. ... New York S Tyler Sash left the game with a hamstring injury, and RT Sean Locklear was carted off in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. ... The Giants were uncharacteristically penalty-prone, getting flagged nine times for 73 yards. ... The Redskins have won three division games in three weeks for the first time since 2005.