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The Giants–Redskins rivalry is a rivalry between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins of the National Football League. The rivalry began in 1932 with the founding of the Washington Redskins, and is the oldest rivalry in the NFC East Division. While often dismissed, particularly in recent times, this rivalry has seen periods of great competition. In particular the Giants and Redskins competed fiercely for conference and division titles in the late 1930s and early 1940s and 1980s. Perhaps most fans today recall the 1980s as the most hotly contested period between these teams, as the Redskins under Joe Gibbs and the Giants under Bill Parcells competed for division titles and Super Bowls. During this span the two teams combined to win 7 NFC East Divisional Titles, 5 Super Bowls and even duked it out in the 1986 NFC Championship Game with the Giants winning 17–0. This rivalry is storied and while it tends to be dismissed due to the Redskins recent struggles,[when?] Wellington Mara, long time owner of the Giants, always said that he believed the Redskins were the Giants' truest rival.
Despite flagging in recent years, in 2012 the rivalry intensified significantly, both on the field and off it: when, in March of that year, a special NFL commission headed by Giants owner John Mara imposed a $36 million salary cap penalty on the Redskins (and a smaller one on the Dallas Cowboys) for the organization's approach to structuring contracts in the 2010 NFL season, when there was no cap – which he publicly claimed was, if anything, too lenient, and should have cost them draft picks as well – the Redskins organization, particularly owner Daniel Snyder, were convinced that, by so disciplining divisional rivals, Mara had abused his league-wide office to advance his own teams' interests (the draft sanctions Mara sought were regarded as especially malicious, as such a punishment would have likely voided the pick-laden trade with the St. Louis Rams – completed three days before the cap penalties were announced – to acquire the #2 position, used to draft Robert Griffin III); in the week leading up to a crucial Week 13 Monday Night Football showdown eventually won by Washington, copies of Mara's quote, along with statistics implying that NFL referees were biased in the Giants' favor, were posted throughout the teams' facilities, and a smiling Snyder, within earshot of numerous media personnel, told a team employee that "I hate those motherfuckers" in the victorious locker room after the game.
In 1937, their first season in Washington, D.C., the Washington Redskins were set to meet the New York Giants in the season finale in New York City at the Polo Grounds with the winner earning the right to play in the NFL Championship. The owner of the Washington Redskins, George Preston Marshall, loaded 12,000 fans and a 150 piece marching band onto trains and had them march an impromptu parade through New York City, all the while belting out "Hail to the Redskins". The tactic appeared to work as the Redskins went on to beat the Giants 49–14, going on to defeat the Chicago Bears in the 1937 NFL Championship.
The Giants would pay the Redskins back in 1938 with a 36–0 victory of their own, a win which propelled them to their own victory in the 1938 NFL Championship.
In 1939 the Giants and Redskins again met in the last game of the season. Having tied in their first meeting 0–0 and having identical records (8–1–1) the two teams were playing for a spot in the NFL Championship game. The game was very competitive and the Redskins trailed 9–7 in the final moments. The Redskins attempted a field goal in the last seconds, seemingly giving them a victory. However, the field goal was called no good allowing the Giants to escape with a victory. The Redskins were irate, with one player even punching referee Bill Haloran. The outcome was so controversial that rumor has it George Preston Marshall, the Redskins owner, tried to pull strings to get Haloran fired from his day job as post master of Providence R.I., unsuccessfully. The Giants would go on to lose the NFL Championship to the Green Bay Packers 27–0.
On November 27, 1966 the Giants and Redskins participated in the highest combined scoring game in NFL history. The two teams combined for 16 touchdowns, 9 of which were of 30 yards or more. While the game was an offensive frenzy, the most memorable score was a Redskins field goal attempted with a few seconds remaining and the Giants trailing 69–41. Otto Graham, the Redskins head coach, claimed it was called merely to allow his kicker practice, but some claim that the field goal was ordered by Redskins middle linebacker and former Giant Sam Huff out of spite. In either case the final score was 72–41 and with 113 combined points the matchup remains the highest scoring game in league history.
On November 18, 1985 in a Monday Night Football contest, the Redskins defeated the Giants 23–21. However the win did not come without a loss as on one play the Redskins ran a flea-flicker, the Giants defense was not fooled by the play and Lawrence Taylor came from the outside and sacked quarterback Joe Theisman. The play is famous as that the sack injured Theisman's leg and effectively ended his career in the NFL. The Redskins would miss the playoffs that season.
On October 27, 1986 in a Monday Night Football game, in what would be a preview of the NFC championship game. the Giants defeated the Redskins 27–20. This was one of two sporting events in the New York City area that night. Across the Hudson River at Shea Stadium in Queens, the New York Mets were wrapping up their second World Series championship with an 8–5 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the fall classic. Game 7 of the World Series had originally been scheduled for the previous night, but was postponed by rain.
On September 11, 2011 was opening day for the Giants' Super Bowl XLVI championship season of 2011. It also coincided with tenth anniversary with the September 11 attacks hence the NFL scheduled the Giants and the Redskins to meet that day as the cities they represent were two metropolitan areas attacked on that day. FedEx Field was a patriotically and emotionally charged atmosphere as the two rivals took the field. Led by Eli Manning the Giants took an early 7–0 lead in the first quarter. Washington responded on a Tim Hightower touchdown run in the second. The two teams would take a 14–14 tie into halftime. Washington took the lead in the third after Ryan Kerrigan intercepted a pass from Manning and scored. Washington's defense would prevent New York from scoring in the second half and the Redskins ended a six-game losing streak to the Giants. The Redskins defeated the Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 15, their first season sweep of the Giants since 1999.
On October 21, 2012, the teams met for the first time with Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III at Metlife Stadium. After trading scores throughout the contest, they began the 4th quarter tied at 13. Following an Ahmad Bradshaw TD run, both teams turned the ball over on back to back plays. The Redskins would narrow the lead to 20–16 on a Kai Forbath field goal. Taking over at their own 23, Robert Griffin III keyed the go-ahead TD drive, including escaping the pass rush of Pro-Bowl DE Jason Pierre-Paul on a 4th and 10 before completing a 19-yard pass to backup TE Logan Paulsen. Griffin capped the drive with a 30-yard TD pass to Santana Moss to put the Redskins up 23–20. With the Giants now trailing with under two minutes remaining, Eli Manning, who was outstanding in the fourth quarter throughout the 2011 season, threw a 77-yard TD pass to Victor Cruz to retake the lead at 27–23. On the ensuing Redskins drive, Santana Moss fumbled at the Redskins 43 yard-line and the Giants recovered, securing their 27–23 victory.
On December 4, 2012, in Robert Griffin III's first Monday Night Football appearance, the Redskins came back in the fourth quarter and defeated the Giants 17–16, with Griffin throwing for one score and accidentally creating another when wide receiver Josh Morgan caught his fumble on the fly and ran it into the end zone. The Redskins victory was a part of a critical streak for them to come back from a 3–6 record, this win put them at 6–6, only one game behind the Giants, who they would eventually overtake to win the NFC East.