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Redskins @ Dallas – Third Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on September 28, 2008 – 6:52 pm

  • Somewhat strange right out of the gate: the Redskins had a lot of success stopping Terrell Owens in the first half by putting Shawn Springs on him in man coverage. For some reason, they’ve started the second half in zone coverage, and it’s making Owens much more relevant. So relevant that he’s in for the touchdown before the fans have finished filing back into their seats from halftime. After just about 33 minutes of football, we’re right back at square one.
  • Clinton Portis seems to be showing more patience, letting his blocks develop more, and it’s leading to good results – first on a screen play, then on his 31 yard run. Good to see Portis breaking a long one.
  • Another potentially crucial miscue, this time an offensive holding penalty negating a terrific touchdown-scoring effort from Portis, and it seems to have derailed the Redskins: an incomplete pass, a busted handoff, ANOTHER touchdown nullifying penalty, and a throwaway.
  • Let’s focus on the positives there for just a minute: the kick was good, as was the hold. The team did manage to score two hard-fought touchdowns, although neither of them counted. And the Redskins have retaken the lead, at least for the moment. That’s the positive. …Nope, doesn’t make me feel much better.
  • One thing I’ve thought of doing is reviewing the food that’s provided in the various press boxes, but I haven’t so far simply because there’s really nothing too interesting to say, and there’s not a whole lot of time to formulate opinions when you’re just hastily cramming down whatever’s put in front of you. Also, an awful lot of press boxes – ours included – seem to serve chili dogs, and there’s really only so much you can say about a normal, unremarkable chili dog. (Which is, I suppose, what makes them unremarkable.) All of which is a roundabout way of mentioning that the Dallas press box offered some really noteworthy butterscotch chip cookies at halftime. Also, chili dogs, but only the cookies were really worth commenting on.
  • ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is covering the game from the press box. What’s interesting is that he’s covering it by watching the seven TV monitors in the dining area of the press box, not actually watching the live action. I suppose being here lets him talk to players and coaches before and after the game, but it still seems odd, like covering the game from an ESPNZone or something.
  • Well, there’s something to add to the “is it a rivalry” analysis: during the first Dallas timeout, the fans just spontaneously broke into a “Redskins Suck” chant. Not quite “We want Washington,” but certainly a step in that direction.
  • The Redskins, thin at cornerback after Fred Smoot got his bell rung, just brilliantly baited Tony Romo into an interception. They lined Leigh Torrance up off of Cowboys WR Miles Austin, giving him a nice cushion, but had Chris Horton ready to move into position for the pick before the ball was even thrown. Chris Horton is looking like a heck of a nice seventh round pick, at this point.

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Redskins @ Dallas: Quick Injury Update – Shawn Springs

Posted by Matt Terl on September 28, 2008 – 6:30 pm

Word is that Shawn Springs had a cramp, which is why he wasn’t in to cover Owens at the end of that Dallas drive. Read more »

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Redskins @ Dallas – First Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on September 28, 2008 – 4:58 pm

  • The Cowboys pyro is much more dramatic than ours, featuring repeated gouts of actual flame in addition to the fireworks. I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of this. They also have a guy dressed up in a big-headed Cowboy mascot costume ride out on an ATV with the flag guys and the cheerleaders, which I’m not jealous of at all.
  • Kenny Loggins is singing the National Anthem, and he’s doing it very slowly. I’m not really sure how to feel about this, but at the very least I’m going to avoid making a “need for speed” Top Gun joke.
  • The first drive starts out looking very much like last week, effective short passes mixing with runs. It’s very odd to think that if this continues to be successful, announcers will say things like, “Look at those slant passes – that’s Redskins football.”
  • AFter a penalty and dropped pass, Durant Brooks comes in to punt, and does an eminently credible job of it, pinning Dallas at their 10 yard line.
  • I’ve heard from more than a few people who are surprised and (in varying degrees) disappointed that Chris Horton is starting in place of Reed Doughty. I suspect that among that group, there are at least a few who are happy to see Marion Barber run over Horton during the first Dallas drive. Horton rallies well, though, and makes the crucial stop on Jason Witten on a third down play to end the drive.
  • There’s a PA guy in the press box whose job is simply to announce the basics of the play – who carried, how far, who made the tackle, who is back to receive a punt, stuff like that. This guy is generally completely impartial and businesslike, which is pretty much the point. The PA guy here, who has been doing a terriifc job thus far, left his mic open after announcing that Randle El was back to receive the punt, and – as Mat McBriar boomed his punt 54 yards in the air – he exclaimed “NICE!” deafeningly over the PA. Everyone laughed and, predictably, yelled at him for cheering in the press box.
  • Durant Brooks punts from his own endzone, and it’s a little low and a little flat but generally very good, for a net of 52 yards. Maybe Brooks really did get over the hump last week.

  • In all the talking I’ve heard about this game in the last week – and especially in the last 24 hours – I don’t think I heard anyone suggest that we would see five punts in the first quarter. Jason Campbell looks like he’s started holding onto the ball just a little too long on offense, but the defense is doing a great job of flying to the ball and stopping the Dallas offense. And, hey, at least the punts and punt coverage have been good, and the punt returns have been no worse than adequate.
  • A Tony Romo to Jason Witten touchdown pass over Marcus Washington looks almost too easy, set up by one of those crucial errors – a third-down defensive holding call on Carlos Rogers – that drive me (and coaches, and players, and everyone else) crazy. The Cowboys fans in front of the press box celebrate by pounding on the glass, and I have to admit to being a little disturbed by how loose and rattling these panes of glass are. Just another reason for me to hope that Dallas fans don’t have much to cheer about.
  • On the flipside, those less-sealed glass panes let a lot more stadium noise leak into the press box, which makes for a much better gamewatching experience. Small consolation if the glass shatters all
  • Rock Cartwright falls on Mike Sellers’ leg on the ensuing kickoff return, and that would be a really bad loss for this team. Sellers bounces up and limps off, which is good. That looked scary on replay.
  • Word from the bench is that Sellers rolled his ankle but will return. Always nice when the bench calls up with good news.

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Sunday, September 28: Gameday, Redskins @ Cowboys, Also Demetric Evans Day

Posted by Matt Terl on September 28, 2008 – 3:00 pm

Photo by Don Wright

Happy Demetric Evans Day, everyone! Not just because the 28 year old defensive end is getting the start in today’s game against the Cowboys, but because Cedric G. Glover, the mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, says so. “Demetric has demonstrated the kind of dedication and commitment to young people that we need, not only in this area, but across the nation, motivating and inspiring young people with a positive outlook on life and giving them real hope for the future.”

“It just goes to show that if you continue to do the right thing, right will come by you,” Evans said, visibly flattered by the honor.

I half-jokingly asked if he got anything with the honor – a key to the city or a box of macadamia nuts or something, and he nodded. “He said if I come down on my off-week – because I’m thinking of going down to hand out turkeys with my foundation, 92 Blessings, for needy people back home – that I would get a plaque and be put in some kind of wall of fame type thing in Town Hall in Shreveport.”

Having his own day isn’t disrupting Evans’ focus as he heads into this crucial start, though. “I’m in Dallas and I have a game to play. It’s really a tribute to my mom and my family back home that they get the opportunity to enjoy.”

I can’t find a Demetric Evans Day card on someecards or anywhere else, but I’m sure there will be one soon enough. Until then, just hope that everyone has a joyous Demetric Evans Day, especially Demetric Evans and everyone else who lines up at DE for the Redskins today.

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Redskins @ Dallas – Second Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on September 28, 2008 – 5:45 am

  • Cowboys safety Roy Williams is out with an injury, but it’s good to see that the Cowboys are still horsecollar tackling in his honor. (The officials waved the flag off, but it sure looked like a horsecollar to me.)
  • Jason Campbell seems to have settled down and is getting rid of the ball quicker again. He’s getting knocked around a bit in the pocket – after the throw, too – but it looks to me almost like that’s calmed him down, like he just needed to get those sacks over with.
  • After the touchdown to James Thrash in the flat – and, hey, remember last year when the team couldn’t get the wide receivers a touchdown to save their lives? – a few brave fans a few rows down and to the right of us here broke into Hail To The Redskins. The Dallas fans surrounding them all faced inward, extended their arms, and flipped the singers the bird. They were perfectly polite about it, but very firm. The Redskins fans, to their credit, finished the tune.
  • Speaking of tunes, the opening strains of Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses come on as Suisham prepares to kick off. Appetite For Destruction has more songs with ballgame-friendly intros than any album has any right to.
  • On that third down stop, Shawn Springs lined up a good four yards off of Terell Owens, and I said to no one in particular, “Why is Springs so far off?” Apparently, it because he was absolutely confident in his ability to bait Romo into throwing, close on the ball, and make the deflection. I’m verty glad – and completely unsurprised – to see that Shawn Springs has answers for all my cornerbacking questions.

  • Clinton Portis is running well today. I wonder if it’s something they’re seeing in the Dallas defense, the return of Jon Jansen to the the offensive line, or just the passing game opening up the run. Whatever it is, it’s a pleasure to watch.
  • And, of course, I’ve jinxed him by typing that, as he’s stopped twice inside the 5 yard line.
  • Jason Campbell looks like he was born to run the West Coast offense right now, moving away from pressure, shaking off would-be tacklers, and completing short passes. Another TD to a WR on that pass to Randle El, incidentally. And the fans sing Hail to the Redskins again, and not nearly as many people bother to flip them off this time.
  • Shawn Springs breaks up another Romo-to-Owens pass on second down. He talked earlier this week about the track meet this matchup was going to be, and so far it’s living up to his hype.
  • It seems like every week, someone mentions that Jason Campbell has a strong arm and can make throws from improbable positions, off one foot, etc. And it seems like every week, Campbell is determined to prove it; his 53 yard completion to Santana Moss came while completely off balance, running forward in the pocket, throwing off one foot.
  • The fans sing Hail to the Redskins after the field goal, but no one bothers to flick them off at all. And I don’t blame the Cowboys fans – preventing the touchdown was huge for them.
  • Kareem Moore – better known as “the other rookie safety besides Horton” – is having a very good day on special teams, and it looks like he’s going to get a chance on defense as well. The Redskins are using seven defensive backs, including four safeties, which seems like it might give Romo an awful lot of time to move around in the pocket. Interesting to see how this plays out.
  • On the one hand, it’s a pity to give up that late field goal, especially after not getting the touchdown. On the other hand, the Redskins go into the half leading by a touchdown, and it’s hard to be too upset about that.

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