The 5th Quarter: Redskins 24 Raiders 14
IT WAS OVER WHEN… Oakland Raiders QB Matt Flynn tried to sneak the ball for a first down on fourth and one. Not only did Flynn not pick up the first down, but he fumbled and the Redskins recovered to take over at their own 17-yard line with about three-and-half minutes to play. The Redskins ran Roy Helu six times for 20 yards to kill over three minutes off the game clock and punted back to Oakland, giving the home team time to run only one meaningless play.
I LIKED THAT… the Redskins finally had some offensive balance, running the ball 32 times and passing 31. That’s the sort of ratio that worked for Washington last year and we know they will have a very tough time winning if Robert Griffin III has to throw the ball 50 times, as he did last week against Detroit.
the pass rush came to play today, sacking Matt Flynn 7 times, with NT Barry Cofield and OLBs Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo getting two apiece.
while rookie CB David Amerson is still gambling too much, it finally paid off today when he jumped a short route, picked off the pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown.
RG3 avoided turnovers for the first time this season.
the Redskins didn’t just crawl into a hole after falling behind 14-0, their fourth deficit of at least two scores in the last four weeks. Washington scored the next 24 points to win the game.
the Redskins cut down on the penalties this week, getting only 3 flags for 29 yards.
RB Roy Helu didn’t have much room to run, but he made the most of what he did, slicing and dicing the Raiders defense on a 14-yard TD run and rushing hard for 9 yards on 3rd and 8 to extend Washington’s final, clock-killing drive. Said head coach Mike Shanahan: ”He did a good job. Roy was very prepared. He was able to grind out some tough yards at the end.”
Helu also made a couple of nice plays in the passing game, with receptions of 28 and 15 yards — while hurdling a Raiders defender on the 28-yard play.
For the second straight week the Redskins defense was able to get off the field on third down, stopping 12 of 17 Raiders attempts to get a first down.
WR Pierre Garcon is balling like a monster, running as hard as he can and his celebratory spike after catching a 5-yard TD pass from Griffin in the second half spoke volumes about how much Garcon cares.
WR Leonard Hankerson is slowly improving, giving us hope that the Redskins’ long search for a viable #2 wideout may finally be over.
the Redskins went to the no-huddle offense in the second quarter and it paid off with a long drive that ended in a field goal.
the defense gave up only 21 yards per drive today, including three 3-and-outs and five 4-and-outs.
I DID NOT LIKE THAT… the Redskins are still missing too many tackles and I’ve yet to hear a decent explanation for why it keeps happening.
the Redskins offensive line struggled to protect RG3 today, forcing the young QB to run for his life on numerous occasions because, unlike last year, defenses are blitzing without fear.
ILB London Fletcher missed a bunch of tackles today and looked like an old man, as he did during the worst parts of last season.
the special teams struggled badly today, with ILB Perry Riley getting fooled on a stunt and allowing a Raiders rusher to come in unblocked and swat down Sav Rocca‘s punt, which was recovered for a touchdown. The special teams also gave up a first down on a fake punt. I could live with the special teams when it wasn’t making or allowing any big plays, but if it is going to give up big plays, it has to produce something in return and it is not.
the Redskins stunk on third down, failing on 11 of 16 opportunities to pick up a first down.
TE Fred Davis is apparently no longer part of this offense, catching zero passes on only one target all day. Is Davis still hurt or has the coaching staff just given up on him?
Fox game announcer Dick Stockton apparently cannot pronounce the last names of Brian Orakpo or Roy Helu.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS… is that the Redskins finally have a win and, thanks to the NY Giants getting blown out for the second straight week, Washington is finally out of the NFC East cellar. In fact, the Cowboys and Eagles also both lost today, which means the 1-3 Redskins trail the 2-2 Cowboys by only one game heading into the bye week. The Redskins will have a couple of weeks to figure out what they’re doing wrong and how to fix it. And RG3 gets two more weeks to get healthier and more in tune with his wideouts. Instead of taking some time off, Griffin and his receivers need to come to the park every day and just work on timing, mechanics, the whole enchilada.
Let’s keep this in perspective: the Redskins beat a bad team today — a bad team that had its backup quarterback playing behind the worst offensive line in the NFL. However, any win is a big win when you’re 0-3, especially when you play in a terrible division where 8 or 9 wins might allow you to host a playoff game. The defense — which has been one of the worst in NFL history through the first three games, gave up only 298 yards of offense and only 104 on the ground. They won the turnover battle, which is critical to Washington winning the game. All in all, this was Washington’s best game of the season. Sure, it came against their weakest opponent so far — maybe the weakest they will face all year. But the winning has to start some time and it begn today.