LANDOVER, Md. — Mark Sanchez never had a chance. Not even a little bit; not with his lack of recent game experience and not with the Giants defense playing as if he was red meat thrown to hungry wolves.
The Giants showed no mercy on the former Jets quarterback, delivering an emphatic beatdown that sent Sanchez back to the bench in the third quarter and left the Giants feeling like a new team even though their season is almost over.
“There was some nice defense played out there today,” cornerback Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins said after the Giants posted a 40-16 domination of the Redskins on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field. “Every play the coach called was working. We came out and did what we had to do.”
The Giants may have been without wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and lost safety Landon Collins for the season to injury. But they did what they were supposed to do against the quarterback-challenged Redskins. Confidence has never been a strong point for Sanchez, who was making his first start since 2015. And the Giants shattered what little he had early in the game.
They did it by first shutting down the Washington running attack, led by Adrian Peterson, and then pressuring Sanchez into mistakes. Peterson gained 12 yards on his second carry, but finished with just 16 yards on 10 carries.
“We haven’t done too well against the run the last few weeks, so for us to come out today and put on a show like that was much needed,” linebacker Alec Ogletree said.
The more pressure put on Sanchez to make plays, the more mistakes he made. On the Redskins’ fourth offensive series, Giants linebacker Kareem Martin tipped a Sanchez pass that wobbled into the arms of free safety Curtis Riley, who returned it 9 yards for the first touchdown of the game.
“I was already making a break on the slant and somebody tipped it,” Riley said. “But I was ready to make the play. It was a good momentum boost for the team.”
In the second quarter, a Sanchez pass intended for Jamison Crowder skipped off the receiver’s finger and was grabbed by Ogletree. He returned it 18 yards to the Washington 10. Three plays later, quarterback Eli Manning found Sterling Shepard for a 3-yard touchdown pass that gave the Giants a 24-0 lead that would grow to 40-0 by the end of the third quarter.
“We were playing with a lot of confidence, having fun and playing for the guy next to you,” Ogletree said.
Saquon Barkley would rush for 170 yards and Manning would throw three touchdown passes before giving way to rookie Kyle Lauletta, who saw his first action of the season. Meanwhile, Sanchez was pulled midway through the third quarter, after completing just 6-of-14 for 38 yards, no touchdowns and the two interceptions. His quarterback rating was 10.7.
“It was tough sledding for sure. We just kind of ran into a little bit of a buzz saw and got ourselves into some tough situations,” Sanchez said, adding, “Would I have liked the day to go better and have a big win and be celebrating right now? Absolutely, but it didn’t go that way.”
The Giants never wanted Sanchez to get into a rhythm.
“It’s was about giving him different looks,” safety Michael Thomas said. “He’s an NFL quarterback who has been around, so we had to make sure we didn’t give him any answers.”
Josh Johnson replaced Sanchez and led Washington to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 79-yard TD pass to Crowder. It was Johnson’s first touchdown pass since 2011. Otherwise, the Giants played the kind of defensive game they need to bottle. They were aggressive and opportunistic.
“Guys were making plays all over the field in the run game and the passing game,” Ogletree said. “We were able to put our hands on a couple of balls and we had sacks. We were hitting on all cylinders and that makes for a good game.”
And another miserable game for Mark Sanchez.