LANDOVER, Md. — The last time these teams met, the Giants were utterly dominated up front — their offensive line allowed seven sacks and rushed for just 37 yards against the Redskins. The 20-13 loss dropped the Giants to 1-7 and, following their bye week, they unveiled a reconfigured line that has remained intact since.
“It was a tough day against them, but I think we’re better, for sure,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “It’s mainly because of the consistency. Those guys in the lineup now have been playing next to each other for a while and getting more confidence.’’
Four of the five starting linemen are the same from that Oct. 28 game: Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Spencer Pulley and Chad Wheeler. Jamon Brown arrived off waivers three days after that game and replaced John Greco at right guard. The Giants have won three of their past four games, averaging 143 rushing yards over the past three.
“Our offensive line is playing at a very high level these last couple weeks,” running back Saquon Barkley said. “They’re playing very confident, the chemistry is high there, and that’s what we kind of didn’t have going into the last time we played the Redskins.”
On the final Giants defensive play in the first half of last week’s 30-27 overtime victory over the Bears, Tarik Cohen gained 11 yards before he was brought down, short of the first down, by Landon Collins and Kerry Wynn.
Collins hurt his shoulder on the tackle but returned to play in the second half. A few days later, he was put on season-ending injured reserve and will require surgery to repair a partially torn labrum.
“I think that epitomizes his play, it epitomizes the type of player we’re talking about,’’ defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. “It’s an end-of-half play that they’re clearly down short of the sticks, and he’s not going to allow them to gain one more yard, and he’s going to throw his body in, and he’s going to make a very, very physical tackle.
“To me, that’s what defines Landon Collins and the way he plays the game. I love him for it and I’m lucky to have had a chance this season to work with him.’’
The Giants last season were 1-5 against teams in their own division. They are 0-4 this year against the NFC East. So for as long as second-year TE Evan Engram has been around, the Giants are 1-9 in the rivalry games.
“I think the fans kind of help me feel that,’’ Engram said. “These division games mean a lot to them. You see it all on social media and you see it on TV and you see it kind of out there, just the importance and the history, all the classic moments that these games have had in this division and all the great teams that have been in this division. It’s kind of easy to get reminded of that.’’
The Redskins were 6-3 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC East before injuries ravaged their roster — and not only at quarterback. Four players who started on offense for the Redskins (6-6) when they beat the Giants the first time around are on injured reserve: QB Alex Smith, WR Paul Richardson, G Brandon Scherff and G Shawn Lauvao. In last week’s loss to the Eagles, the Redskins lost both their new starting guards, Jonathan Cooper and Tony Bergstrom, to injuries.