Redskins 22 Titans 21 in first preseason game

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Updated: August 9, 2013
Hankerson TD

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The Washington Redskins took an early 7-0 lead in Nashville tonight, then twice fell behind by a touchdown before the fourth-string quarterback led a long scoring drive to win the game 22-21.

Washington’s first preseason game of the 2013 season featured no Robert Griffin III, as the young franchise quarterback sat out the game while he completes rehabilitation on his right knee, but the other three quarterbacks on the roster each led a touchdown drive to get the win.

The Redskins jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their second possession of the game when Kirk Cousins [6-7, 52 yards, 1 TD] led the Redskins on a 7-play 64-yard drive. On second and four from on Washington’s 42-yard line, Cousins hit WR Aldrick Robinson [2 for 28] with a perfect sideline dart and Robinson stepped out of bounds at the Tennessee 43. A late hit on Robinson as the play ended added another 15 yards, setting the Skins up at the Titans’ 28 yard line. After a pair of four yard runs by Roy Helu, Cousins hit TE Fred Davis for 11 yards to the 9-yard line. Helu ran six yards to the three before Cousins faked a handoff and hit Davis over the middle, in the back of the end zone, for an easy touchdown. I liked the play because Cousins looked off at least one receiver before finding the wide open Davis. Unfortunately, Davis went to the ground during his end zone celebration, drawing a 15-yard penalty that was assessed on the kickoff.

The Titans came right back with a one-play drive, as RB Chris Johnson took advantage of a bad tackling angle by OLB Brian Orakpo to break open a long run. Rookie FS Bacarri Rambo, getting the first NFL action of his career, got faked out and turned around in the open field by Johnson as the super-fast running back sprinted 58 yards for the game-tying touchdown.

Rex Grossman [10-21 for 119, TD] entered the game for the Redskins, as Cousins’ night ended with the touchdown pass on the previous possession. Washington could do nothing with the ball and had to punt. Tennessee’s next drive took a bit longer than the previous one, but the result was still the same — a Titans running back getting into the end zone for seven points. The drive began at the Tennessee 39-yard line, but the Titans quickly moved into Washington territory with a 13-yard completion from QB Jake Locker to RB Shonn Greene to the Redskins’ 48. Brian Orakpo sacked Locker on the next play, but an offsides penalty on Orakpo and an 11-yard completion on third down to Nate Washington allowed the Titans to extend the drive. The Titans slowly made their way into the red zone until Greene ended the drive with a gashing 19-yard ramble for the score. The Titans held a 14-7 lead with less than a minute left in the first quarter.

HankersonThe Redskins ran three plays before punting as Aldrick Robinson dropped a perfect pass from Rex Grossman on third down that would have extended the drive. It would not be the last dropped pass by a Redskins wideout in the game.

The teams traded punts until the Redskins took over with 6:41 left in the first half on their own 16-yard line. Roy Helu [13 for 57, 4.4], who got the start and almost all the carries in the first half, ran 13 yards on first down to move Washington to the 29 and a completion to Logan Paulsen [3 for 21] set the Skins up at their 40. Helu then ran up the middle for 10 yards and Grossman hit WR Leonard Hankerson [4 for 38, TD] for another 11 yards to the Tennessee 39-yard line. A beautiful, zig-zagging 18-yard run by Helu was negated by a holding penalty on G Josh LiRibeus, but Grossman completed passes of 12 yards to Hankerson and 13 yards to Josh Morgan [3 for 39] to keep the drive going. Grossman then threw a nice sideline pass to Robinson, who juggled the ball, but secured it and went out of bounds. A replay challenge upheld the reception and Washington took over on the eight yard line. The drive finished when Grossman threw a bubble screen to Hankerson, who took advantage of some nice blocks from the offensive line to weave his way to the goal line before leaping in. The score tied the game just before halftime.

Neither team could do much in the third quarter, though Grossman did have a TD pass called back due to a formation penalty. Penalties were a problem for the Redskins all night, as the team lost 89 yards on 11 flags.

The Titans started the last drive of the third quarter on their own six yard line and one six yard run later, to the 12, the third ended and the fourth quarter began. Tennessee kept things going, with QB Rusty Smith hitting some short passes and taking advantage of a Redskins penalty or two to move out of the shadow of his own end zone. The Redskins actually had the Titans stopped, forcing an incompletion on 3rd and 14 from the 24 yard line, but a roughing the passer penalty on DE Chris Baker, who dove late and low at Smith, kept the drive alive and moved the ball to the Titans’ 39.

Richard CrawfordA few nice runs by the Titans moved the ball to midfield and then Smith hit a receiver who beat CB Richard Crawford over the middle for 20 yards, setting up the Titans at the Redskins’ 30-yard line. Smith finished the drive with three short passes and bad tackling by the Redskins allowed the Titans to go up 21-14.

With 7:48 left in regulation, Pat White took over at QB at the Redskins’ 20 yard line. What followed was a 12-play,  80-yard scoring drive that saw White run the offense from the pistol formation on every single play. On third and 5 from his 25, White hit Nick Williams for 7 yards and a first down. He followed that up with a read-option fake to Evan Royster [14 for 62] and a scramble around the right end for 18 yards until stepping out neatly at midfield. Royster ran for nine yards on first down and White scrambled for another six for the first down and Royster gained five on the next play. On another third and five, White hit Lance Lewis for 10 yards to the Tennessee 20-yard line.

After a bad pass to Skye Dawson and incompletion on first down, White scrambled on second down and threw a perfect pass to Lewis inside the five yard line. Lewis pushed to the goalline, but fumbled just as he got there and the ball was recovered by the Titans in the end zone. However, a penalty on a Titans defensive lineman for hitting White late and in the facemask, moved the ball half the distance to the goal, the 10-yard line. On first down White ran a called play to the right, but found no room and wisely scampered out of bounds for a one yard gain, stopping the clock. On the next play, however, White saw the Titans’ defense open up as he dropped back to pass and he quickly exploited it, racing up the middle for nine yards and the touchdown. The score cut Tennessee’s lead to 21-20 and instead of forcing a pointless preseason overtime, Head Coach Mike Shanahan wisely elected to go for the two-point conversion.

White dropped back to pass and rolled to his left, but the Tennessee defense was ready for him and would allow him no lanes to run in. As defenders closed in, White darted around, buying time until backup TE Emmanuel Ogbuhei, who dropped a couple of passes from RG3 in practice this week, neatly caught White’s perfect pass in the end zone for two points and the 22-21 lead. The drive took almost five-and-a-half minutes and left the Titans with 2:29 in which to win the game with a touchdown or field goal.

The Titans took over at their own 25-yard line and advanced as far as their own 42, but penalties killed the drive and they punted to Washington. Redskins rookie WR Skye Dawson made one of the big plays he’ll have to make to earn a spot in the roster, racing 27 yards with the punt to the Tennessee 37-yard line, essentially guaranteeing the win for Washington.

Royster carried the ball the next three downs for gains for 5, 2 and 15 yards to give Washington a first down at the Tennessee 15-yard line. With time for one last play, the Redskins entered victory formation and Pat White kneeled down to kill the clock.