Don't get me wrong, the game last week was sweet. It was a big statement game and the Redskins came out and got it done in a place where they historically have had trouble.
It didn't seem, however, that the Cowboys were particularly fired up for the game. They didn't take the Redskins very seriously. Washington was the beneficiary of a TO fixation on the part of Tony Romo (despite Owens' protestations to the contrary). A key mistake—12 men on the field—greatly aided the Redskins' effort to salt away the game. The Redskins weren't able to go into victory formation until after gaining possession after an onside kick, a kick on which a Dallas player had his hands.
In Philadelphia the Redskins had to overcome a lot of adversity. They were without three defensive starters. Philly shoved the ball down their throats on the first drive and Brian Westbrook, a guy most of the Redskins would rather have taken another week to heal his injured ankle, scored a touchdown. Thirty nine seconds of game time later, it was 14-0 after a punt return for a touchdown.
The Redskins followed up their ugly three and out on their first drive with an ugly five and out. Philly got the ball at its own 15 and started to move in for the kill. After a penalty against the Redskins for too many men on the field it was first and ten at the Washington 37.
Then London Fletcher makes a sure tackle at the 35 on Tony Hunt when the receiver had a lot of green grass in front of him. On second and eight Buckhalter tries the left end but Andre Carter strings it out and Fletcher again makes the stop after a gain of 3. Then McNabb fired a pass that an open Greg Lewis maybe could have caught for a first down had the quarterback not put so much mustard on it. Then David Akers' 50-yard field goal try faded wide right.
The Washington offense did not have an equal and opposite reaction to the Philadelphia barrage of early points. They just started chopping wood, using ax #26 and ax #47 for the most part. They averted what had been a bugaboo during their previous three-game winning streak by not giving up cheap points just before halftime. In fact, the Redskins took over at their own 18 with 55 seconds left and drove in for a field goal at the end of the half (of course, those points were well-earned, not cheap at all).
And they kept after it and kept after it and Antwaan Randle El threw a touchdown pass to Cooley to put the Redskins in the lead. Portis' four-yard touchdown run on third and goal (a play call for which Joe Gibbs would have been ripped whether or not it had worked) made it 23-14 with 14:54 left to play.
There would be just two more possessions. The Eagles' offense, dormant for two quarters, came to life and they drove to a second and one at the Washington two. At the time, referring to the Eagles being unable to punch it in from close in last week in Chicago, I blogged "The Skins have them right where they want them."
Sure enough, Westbrook went into the pile for a yard and a half and then Andre Carter blew up a block, forcing Westbrook deep and into the arms of Khary Campbell for a three-yard loss.
Akers' field goal was good with 7:36 left to play. And the Eagles didn't get the ball back thanks to:
- Some tough Portis running.
- A third and four conversion on an 11-yard pass from Campbell to Randle El.
- A third and nine conversion on a heady scramble by Campbell, complete with a nifty move right at the first-down line to elude a tackle.
- Finally, another gutsy call by Zorn, going for it on fourth and one. Portis, according to Zorn, called the play and powered for three yards.
Victory formation. 4-1. Nice.
Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at firstname.lastname@example.org