EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Joe Judge won’t have a lot of time to enjoy his first win as New York Giants coach.
In fact, the 38-year-old Judge barely had time to celebrate as the Giants rode a wild final four minutes, a decisive play by Mr. Irrelevant and a game-saving late stop by the defense on a 2-point conversion to a 20-19 victory over Washington on Sunday.
After the final whistle, Judge hugged people on the sideline and then immediately starting thinking about playing the Eagles in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
“The emotional sideline was just joy for players,” Judge said. “To see them smile and see them rewarded for hard work, that’s really why you play.”
The Giants, who blew a 10-point lead, gave Judge a game ball and doused him with liquid from bottles in the locker room after the game, which was decided on two big plays in the final 3 1/2 minutes.
Rookie linebacker Tae Crowder, the last player taken in the NFL draft — Mr. Irrelevant — scooped up a fumble and ran 43 yards for a touchdown to give New York a 20-13.
Washington (1-5) came right back and got within a point on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Allen to Cam Sims with :36 left in regulation to cap a 10-play, 75-yard march.
Washington coach Ron Rivera rolled the dice and went for the win with a 2—point conversion. Allen found no one open, scrambled to his left and had his pass under pressure fall incomplete, giving New York (1-5) a W.
“I told them in the locker room I play to win,” Rivera said to reporters. “I told you guys that’s part of my philosophy. The only way to learn to win is to play to win. That’s what I want those guys to understand.”
The stop allowed the Giants to avoid a second 0-6 start since 2013.
Allen said he looked around after the snap and didn’t see much open.
“You want to give our guys a chance to make a play,” said Allen, who finished 31 of 42 for 280 yards . “Glad we went for 2. Wish we would have gotten it.”
Washington rallied from a 10-point deficit to tie the game midway before a rare Giants quarterback pressure turned the game around.
On a third-and-9 from the Giants 45, linebacker Kyler Fackrell strip-sacked Allen for an 8-yard loss. Crowder chased down the bouncing ball, gained possession and ran untouched to the end zone — to the applause of teammates. No fans were allowed at the game at MetLife Stadium.
“I was just in the right spot at the right time,” Crowder said.
Graham Gano added two field goals for New York.
Allen threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Logan Thomas, and Dustin Hopkins, who missed from 47 yards on the opening drive, hit two shorter field goals.
Jones, who rushed for a team-high 74 yards, was 12 of 19 for 112 yards and an interception by Kendall Fuller in the back of the end zone that ended a nine-minute-plus drive.
“We have battled these first five weeks and haven’t gotten the results we all hoped for,” Jones said. “To get it was thrilling, and coach’s first win, it was a lot of fun to do that.”
Giants LT Andrew Thomas, the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, did not start for the first time this season because he broke a team rule, Judge said, without being specific. Fellow rookie Matt Peart, a third-round pick, started. Thomas replaced him in the second quarter but went back to the bench early in the third after missing a block on a third-and-1 at the Washington 37. He returned in the fourth quarter.
Both teams were on the field for the national anthem. Washington’s Tim Settle, Landon Collins and Montez Sweat raised fists. The Giants had roughly 15 players take a knee. They had a similar number the first two home games.
Washington: Starting LG Saahdiq Charles was hurt on the second play from scrimmage (left leg) and didn’t return. WR Antonio Gandy-Golden left with a hamstring injury.
Giants: WR C.J. Board was carted off the field early in the third quarter after taking a big hit from Washington safety Deshazor Everett trying to catch a low pass. He was diagnosed with a concussion and a neck injury and taken to a hospital for evaluation. Judge said the medical report after the game was positive and the player had movement in his limbs. Backup CB Darney Holmes (neck) left in the first half.
Both teams stay in NFC East. Washington hosts Dallas next Sunday. The Giants have a short week and play in Philadelphia on Thursday night.