LANDOVER, Maryland — The New York Giants' first possession ended with a pass from Eli Manning being bobbled by Shane Vereen and intercepted.
Their second ended with a pass from Manning going through the hands of Dwayne Harris and getting picked off.
And their opening drive of the second half ended with Manning turning the ball over yet again, this time in the end zone.
With a chance to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the NFC East, the Giants did not exactly seize the moment, falling into a big hole thanks to Manning's 20th career three-interception game, then failing to complete a comeback despite the latest "How did he do that?!" catch by Odell Beckham Jr., and losing 20-14 to the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
"We 'sleptwalked' — whatever the word is," coach Tom Coughlin said.
"We came out flat," he said. "Too many mistakes."
Why did that happen?
"There is no explanation — no good explanation — for that," Beckham said. We have to do better."
Instead of taking a comfortable lead in the division, the Giants dropped into a first-place tie with the Redskins at 5-6, with five games remaining. The Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) and Dallas Cowboys (3-8), both routed on Thanksgiving Day, are the other members of the mediocre division.
"We're just in the driver's seat right now," Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "We've just got to continue winning games and driving the car — right into the playoffs."
Jay Gruden's club has not won two games in a row all season. It followed a 33-point victory with a 28-point loss. It is 5-1 at home, 0-5 on the road. It tends to have a hard time running the ball — and stopping the run.
But Kirk Cousins outplayed Manning, connecting with DeSean Jackson for a 63-yard touchdown pass and scoring on a fourth-down quarterback sneak.
The Giants, who easily beat Washington at home in Week 3, were coming off their bye and looked rusty, particularly on offense.
Manning had miscommunication issues with Beckham in the first quarter, and with Harris in the second, resulting in throws that did not match the receivers' routes.
It didn't help matters that the Giants began the game without two injured starters along the offensive line, then lost a third in the first half when guard Geoff Schwartz left with a fractured lower leg.
Two-time Super Bowl MVP Manning had only six picks all season until the trio of them on Sunday. He wound up 26 for 51 for 321 yards and a pair of fourth-quarter TD passes.
Cousins was 20 for 29 for 302 yards, no interceptions and that long TD to Jackson — who taunted the Giants by strutting along the goal line before actually crossing it.
"A spur-of-the-moment thing. I just felt like doing it," said Jackson, who went back to return punts for the first time this season. "You never know what you get with me."
New York trailed 20-0 before making things interesting as Manning threw scoring passes of 40 yards to Rueben Randle and 21 yards to Beckham, who made a fantastic diving grab, corralling the ball with his left hand while parallel to the ground.
"What can you say about that?" Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said. "That's not human."
Notes: Giants WR Hakeem Nicks made his season debut, making one catch for 4 yards. ... Beckham had nine catches for 142 yards. ... The Giants finished with only 33 rushing yards on 13 carries.
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