*After a tough loss to a division opponent, the Redskins know the best way to rebound is to have perspective, still early in the season. *
The disappointment and frustration from Thursday night's 32-21 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium was manifest in a quiet Redskins locker room after the game.
The team's second defeat of the season, one that stung a little more because of its primetime stature and because it came at the hands of a division rival, didn't have a funereal atmosphere attached to it though, like it might if this game had come farther down in the schedule, or hadn't occurred on such a short week.
For all the self-inflicted wounds – the early penalties and the turnovers – and the actual wounds, the injuries to several players that primarily forced the offensive line to shuffle around, Thursday's game in East Rutherford, N.J., served, and will continue to serve, as an early-season test of adversity the Redskins hadn't yet faced as a group.
The test was present on the Redskins' opening drive, when a field-changing third down completion to running back Chris Thompson down the right sideline was called back due to an offensive pass interference call on tight end Jordan Reed. Another penalty and a blocked punt that skipped into the end zone for a safety followed to set a foreboding tone.
"We've got to pride ourselves on being able to come back from adversity," said quarterback Kirk Cousins. "In this game, you're going to have setbacks, so to say that that set us back is just talk. We've got to be able to come back from whatever gets thrown our way and that certainly isn't the most adversity we're going to face."
Cousins, who went 30-of-49 with a touchdown, a two-point conversion and two interceptions, found his favorite target Reed six times for 96 yards, but the early deficit limited the Redskins running game, and in effect the offense, the bread and butter that guided them to victory over the Rams last Sunday.
Check out these top photos from the Washington Redskins 2015 Week 3 matchup against the New York Giants Sept. 24, 2015, at MetLife Stadium.
The defense was thus forced into managing short fields throughout the night and did their best in limiting quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants' quick passing, methodical drives, holding them to mostly field goals in the first half.
"He was getting the ball out quick," said nose tackle Terrance Knighton of Manning. "He obviously found something in our defense that he could expose…short gains, they were able to control the clock and convert on third down."
The consistency of pace in the Giants' offense, in which Manning "kept us on our toes," according to cornerback Bashaud Breeland, in some ways should give the Redskins a good template against their next opponent in the Eagles, who offer their signature fast-moving offense under head coach Chip Kelly.
"We'll come back next week, we got another division opponent -- we got Philly," said left tackle Trent Williams. "They're going to require all of our focus. We will study this game and try to learn from the mistakes. Ultimately we can't let one game define our whole season."
Fullback Darrel Young echoed his blocker, knowing that for some of the positives in the game – a kickoff return by Rashad Ross and a touchdown catch by Thompson – they must work harder to suppress the negatives that occurred Thursday.
"We've got to come back and we got a great opponent coming in in Philly," Young said. "Regardless of the record, like we said all during the week, it's going to be one of these games you're going to have to play 'til the end of the wire. We're 1-2 at this point, you know, we got to look forward from things and address the things we didn't do well, special teams again. We just got to make plays, we've got to be the other team for once hearing the crowd cheer for us in stuff. We just got to go back to the drawing board, we'll address everything tomorrow."
After Sunday's victory against the Rams, players preached the importance of not dwelling on their first win. It was too early for that and didn't provide much benefit as they stared down their first division game.
The same could be said of Thursday's loss. It must be felt, but there isn't much reason to dwell on it, not at this juncture in the season, and not with another rival coming into town next week in a division that will largely be up for grabs.
It's a perspective that's difficult to channel following defeat, but vital to maintain as the team still finds its identity and cohesion as a unit.
"I don't know about putting the game behind us just yet," Williams said. "It ain't good to have this feeling, but I think it will help guys to know, feel the disappointment of losing a primetime game, division opponent, on the road with a plan to come in and take the air out of the place, we weren't able to do that. Putting the game behind us, will be there for tomorrow, right now we got to learn from our mistakes."