NFC East Roundup: Eli Looks Elite Again

After five weeks, the Giants sit atop the division.

Photo courtesy: USA Today Sports Images

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

After five weeks, the NFC East is nearly as tight as is mathematically possible. Here’s what local and national media are saying about the rest of the division.

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post was unimpressed by the Giants’ uninspiring defense against San Francisco.

Oy vey. Great work early on RB Carlos Hyde (21-93, TD) but not late. Good Lord, did Colin Kaepernick (23 of 35, 262 yards, two TDs) have time to throw and he probably should have run more (3 carries, 23 yards). Too many lapses and busted assignments down the stretch reminiscent of the first two games. Landon Collins could have sealed the game but couldn’t come with the interception. Two sacks for Damontre Moore chasing down Kaepernick. Loss of Jon Beason early didn’t help.

Eli Manning executed in crunch time once again, and showed why he was paid the big bucks, writes ESPN’s Ian O’Connor.

Eli hasn’t been back to the playoffs since 2012, a truth that inspired Mara to consider this season a win-or-else proposition for his coach, Tom Coughlin, and general manager, Jerry Reese. But the 0-2 Giants of 2015 have become the 3-2 Giants of 2015 and a first-place team in the NFC East because Manning played like his former self, like that quarterback with rare DNA.

So as he headed toward the locker room after the Giants’ heart-stopping 30-27 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Mara was asked for his assessment of the two-time Super Bowl MVP who might have just played the best regular-season game of his 12-year career

Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News writes that the Cowboys’ season could be in jeopardy after three straight losses.

The Cowboys are now 2-3 and will be the underdog in their next three games against the Giants, Seahawks and Eagles. The season could be sliding out of their grasp before [Tony] Romo and [Dez] Bryant make it back to the field.

You need more than 264 yards to win games in the NFL, especially when you’re playing the defending Super Bowl champs. The Cowboys are in dire need of playmakers. It’s mandatory that this coaching staff find them — and find them quickly. The clock could already be ticking on the defending NFC East champions

Despite the loss, Dallas’s rookie cornerback Byron Jones fared well in his first meeting with Rob Gronkowski, writes ESPN’s Todd Archer.

Against the Cowboys, shadowed mostly by Jones (first-round pick), Gronkowski had four catches for 67 yards.

“He competed with him,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He challenged him.”

The Patriots moved Gronkowski around, playing him on the line, tucked tight to the line of scrimmage, in the slot and out wide. Wherever he went, Jones mostly followed.

Kirk Cousins‘ doomed pass in overtime sealed Washington’s fate on an interception that played right into Atlanta’s defense, writes ESPN’s John Keim.

Cousins and the Redskins’ offense finally displayed life in the fourth quarter by scoring 12 points — three of which came on a drive with 24 seconds left in regulation. A second straight week of such late success would have delivered quite a bounce.

But the crushing play started with a good blitz from Atlanta, which left linebacker Nate Stupar with a free rush. Cousins knew where he had to throw the ball, but with Stupar free, it bought him little time. It provided [Robert] Alford a chance to read the play well, starting slightly inside [Ryan] Grant and resulting with him sliding outside and then breaking as the ball was thrown wide. When Grant tried to break after turning around, he slipped.

Washington is still struggling to find consistency in its late game performances, writes the Washington Post’s Mike Jones.

On Sunday, the Redskins needed either a finisher to step up or a collective effort that would enable them to win ugly. When it mattered most, they got neither and lost, 25-19, when Robert Alford intercepted a Kirk Cousins pass in overtime and returned the ball 59 yards for a touchdown.

Washington fell to 2-3. Atlanta improved to 5-0 after displaying the same grit that good teams sometimes need to overcome uncharacteristically poor performances and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It’s the same grit that the Redskins are trying to develop. Jay Gruden’s bunch appears to be building something here. In past years, they would have followed up an encouraging win like last week’s against the Philadelphia Eagles with a dismal performance on the road against a good team. But the Redskins instead pushed Atlanta to the brink. They just haven’t figured out a way to close in consistent fashion.