Will defense bend but not break in New York?

Will defense bend but not break in New York?
October 19, 2012, 4:15 pm
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The Redskins’ defense has been out on the field for more plays in the past two weeks but they are playing better.

In the first four games of the season, opponents ran 244 plays and scored 123 points. That’s 61 plays and 30.1 points per game and an average of .50 points for every offensive play run.

The past two weeks, opponents have run 161 plays, an average of 80.5 per game, and they have scored 50 points, 25 per game. The Redskins have given up an average of .31 points per offensive play.

The Redskins’ opponents are running more plays but getting less out of them. The big plays that were so common in the first quarter of the season have by and large disappeared. In the past two games the longest plays they have given up are a 32-yard Adrian Peterson run and a 29-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones.

Let’s see, forcing long drives, not giving up big plays, forcing teams to settle for field goal attempts (as the Redskins did three times in the first quarter of the Vikings game). That sure sounds like a bend but don’t break defense to me.

But when asked about applying that term to his defense, Jim Haslett objected. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a bend but don’t break defense if you’re blitzing,” he said. “I think last week we had a big lead and didn’t want to give it up.”

Will the Redskins be in the position of having to protect a fourth-quarter lead on Sunday? The Giants have been very efficient on offense, scoring .45 points per offensive play. The Redskins will have to be at the top of their game to keep the Giants from piling up the points.

Of course, Robert Griffin III and the Redskins are capable of lighting up the scoreboard as well. They have score exactly as many points as the Giants have, 178 (29.7 per game, .48 points/play).

And this game could well come down to who has the ball in his hands last. Eli Manning is one of the best fourth-quarter quarterbacks in the game and he has led two last-minute drives to win Super Bowls. Griffin is carving out his own niche with a late drive to set up a field goal to beat the Bucs and last week’s game-clinching 76-yard run against the Vikings.

I read that Accuscore, one of those places where they simulate each game 10,000 times, had the Giants winning 60 percent of the time. That sounds about right. The Giants should be favored but 40 percent is certainly a reasonable chance of winning.

I’m not going to pick the upset here with the Redskins on the road but it would not be stunning at all if I’m wrong. The RG3 legend could well grow this weekend.

Giants 28, Redskins 24