The 5th Quarter: Redskins 30 Chargers 24 [OT]
THE GAME TURNED WHEN… Chargers RB Danny Woodhead caught his game-high 9th pass of the game and raced to the corner of the end zone to give San Diego a 4-point lead with 21 seconds left in regulation. Woodhead was hit and flew into the air, his leg hitting the end zone pylon. The officials ruled a touchdown on the play to virtually end the game and send the Redskins to 2-6. However, automatic replay of all scoring plays found that Woodhead was out of bounds before scoring and the Chargers had the ball and first down inside the one yard line. A running play on first down yielded a loss of half a yard. The Chargers threw threw a fade pass on second down that was well-covered by CB DeAngelo Hall, bringing up third down. The Chargers then called a roll out for Phillip Rivers, who threw incomplete in the back of the end zone. The Chargers kicked the field goal on fourth down to tie the game at 24 and send the game into overtime. The Chargers had been about 15 inches from a win, but couldn’t get those last inches and lost their chance to win the game in overtime. Their offense would never touch the ball again.
IT WAS OVER WHEN… The Chargers called “tails” on the coin flip to determine overtime possession and the coin came up heads. Washington got the ball on their own 22-yard line after a non-disastrous return by WR Joshua Morgan. Redskins QB rolled out and hit WR Leonard Hankerson [6 tar, 5 rec, 55 yards] for nine yards. Alfred Morris followed up with a 3-yard run for first down. Morris then exploded up the middle and cut back to his left for 19 yards to the San Diego 47. Two plays for two yards later, the Redskins faced 3rd down and 8. That’s when rookie TE Jordan Reed re-emerged, popping open and catching an RG3 pass for 12 yards to keep the drive going. However, a holding penalty on C Will Montgomery put the drive in jeopardy. However, on first and 20 from the Chargers’ 43, RG3 hit WR Pierre Garcon for the final time today, picking up 19 yards. The refs threw a flag on the play and called a hit on a defenceless receiver against the Chargers, moving the ball half the distance to the goal line, at the San Diego 13. On first down Morris raced nine yards up the middle to the four yard line. However, Morris gained nothing on second down, bringing up third and less than a yard for a first down. However, FB Darrel Young wasn’t interested in settling for a first down. He took the handoff from RG3 for the fifth time today and ran over right guard and into the end zone, scoring his third touchdown of the game. And with that, the game ended, 30-24 Redskins in overtime.
THE GOOD… After a dismal offensive performance in Denver last week, the Redskins came home and looked like a good team, at least most of the time. The Redskins racked up 500 yards of offense, 209 on the ground and 291 through the air.
A week after QB Robert Griffin III was battered, bruised and knocked out of the game, the pass protection was superb. Griffin wasn’t sacked and while I’ll have to check the film again to confirm, I didn’t see him hit in the pocket either. Protecting RG3 makes everything about Washington’s offense so much better.
It looked more like 2012 in other ways, too, as the Redskins ran the ball 40 times and passed only 32. 500 yards of offense, 12-17 on third down, 4 of 5 in the red zone. On Washington’s three second-half touchdown drives the team went 7-7 on third down.
The Redskins were efficient, as well, averaging 9.1 yards per pass attempt and 5.2 yards per rush.
The Redskins broke out the true option offense a few times today, with RG3 pitching the ball on the option to Jordan Reed and WR Santana Moss. Both Reed and Moss picked up 18 yards on those plays, giving future opponents yet another thing to watch out for.
Washington’s powerful rushing attack today allowed the Redskins to control the ball for 40:03, including overtime. By contrast. the Chargers had the ball for just under 26 minutes.
QB Robert Griffin III didn’t look great today, but he looked pretty good most of the time. The four passes batted down at the line of scrimmage were bad and he missed on some throws, including to Garcon on the first play of the game and to Moss in the fourth quarter which would have resulted in a big play. He was also bailed out a couple of times by Pierre Garcon, who had a great game.
THE BAD… The Redskins threw the ball successfully to TE Jordan Reed in the first half, but completely ignored him in the second half, something that has happened a number of times this year. I’m not sure why Kyle Shanahan loses interest in the tight end position in the second half, but it is a problem. The Redskins finally went back to Reed in overtime and the result was a 12-yard catch on third down to keep the eventual game-winning drive going.
The defense had been solid for most of the game, forcing punts and picking off Phillip Rivers twice, but it fell apart in the second half of the fourth quarter, giving up a 77-yard TD drive and then a 91-yard drive that came within 15 inches of ending the game, and for all intents and purposes, the season. Rookie WR Keenan Allen [8-128] and Woodhead [9-77] were open constantly and the Redskins missed too many tackles, particularly ILB London Fletcher.
RG3 had four passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage and one of them was intercepted in the end zone for a San Diego touchdown. On that play RG3 clearly telegraphed his intention to throw to Leonard Hankerson and the Chargers were able to get the tip, the pick and the score. Some may call it a fluky play, but it was a clear case of RG3 letting the defense know what he was doing before he did it. He’s got to graduate from that kind of rookie mistake.
THE UGLY… The Redskins special teams continues to be a weekly debacle. The Redskins had two field goals blocked today and KR Joshua Morgan was so bad that the Redskins briefly replaced him with Niles Paul, something that should have happened a long time ago. Soon after, however, Morgan was back returning kicks. Why, I do not know. On at least one of the field goals, the first one, it looked to me as if PK Kai Forbath did not have the kick high enough. The point is, every week it is something else with the special teams. If it isn’t the return coverage, it’s a blocked punt, if it isn’t a blocked punt, it’s two blocked field goals. It’s always something. The Redskins special teams is a rolling, week-to-week catastrophe.
THE STUDS… WR Pierre Garcon had his best day as a Redskin, catching 7 passes on 11 targets for 172 yards [24.6]. All his receptions resulted in first downs and he was open on several other occasions when RG3 simply tossed a bad pass. Garcon had catches of 31 yards, 38 yards, 33 yards and 26 yards and seemed to make a big play every time the Redskins needed one. The best catch was THIS ONE on 3rd and 12 early in the second half.
Alfred Morris didn’t have a 100-yard game this year, largely because he didn’t have a single game in which he got 20 carries. The Redskins fixed that problem today, giving Morris the ball 25 times for 121 yards [4.8] and 1 TD. He gashed the Chargers repeatedly today had runs of 19 and 9 yards on the final, game-winning drive. Morris now has 686 yards and 5 TD this year, averaging over five yards per carry. You can make a very good case that Alfred Morris is the best running back in the NFL in 2013.
FB Darrel Young finally got to carry the ball this week and he responded with the game of his career, rushing five times for only 12 yards, but three of those carries were for scores, including the last play of the game, a 4-yard gash up the middle.
THE DUDS… PK Kai Forbath had two field goals blocked today and I’m pretty sure at least one of them was his fault because he didn’t get the necessary height on the kick.
ILB London Fletcher led the team in tackles, but he also led the team in missed tackles — a recurring problem for him — and he was repeatedly victimized in pass coverage.
RG Chris Chester committed two penalties today, continuing a pattern we’ve seen this year. Chester, after a very solid 2012, has really struggled this year. When is it time for Adam Gettis?
THE MISSING IN ACTION… TE Fred Davis was a healthy scratch again, landing on the inactive list yet again. Davis has appeared in only four of Washington’s eight games this season and has only two starts. He has a grand total of 3 catches for 25 yards. This comes only days after Davis admits he has fallen asleep during meetings and film study more than once.
AND WHAT IT ALL MEANS… The Redskins deserved to win this game. They also deserved to lose it. We saw the best of the Redskins today — two interceptions, 500 yards of offense, a balanced attack, great work on third down and in the red zone. We also saw the worst, with a tipped pass intercepted in the end zone for a touchdown, two blocked field goals and terrible work on kick returns. However, Washington pulled it out to improve to 3-5 and win their second straight game at home after losing their first two in FedEx Field this season. Washington’s offense is starting to look the way it did for most of 2012, with a powerful rushing attack, better pass protection and winning time of possession.
Washington’s defense looked good for most of the game before crumbling in the second half of the fourth quarter. They created turnovers, but allowed a rookie wideout, Keenan Allen, to rip them to pieces in the secondary. And, once again, there were too many missed tackles. The special teams, as usual, is a complete mess. Only an inferior franchise would continue to tolerate it.
The Redskins now must string together a series of wins. It won’t be easy as they must go on the road and play on Thursday against the Minnesota Vikings, who nearly upset the Dallas Cowboys today. The Redskins need to win their next two over Minny and the Eagles to get to .500 before facing the San Francisco 49ers. The NFC East is still up for grabs. The Redskins can still defend their division championship. But amateur hour, which has now lasted far more than one hour, has got to end. The stupid mistakes on offense have to stop and the special teams must find some pride and stop embarrassing themselves on a weekly basis. The season depends on this.