As soon as I posted my contention that the game was lost when Perry Riley blocked some guy in the back, I felt sort of bad about it. Games aren’t lost on one play, and lord knows there was more the Redskins could’ve done so that they didn’t actually NEED that one punt return touchdown quite so badly.
Riley himself didn’t speak to the media in the locker room (although the PR staff got him on the phone for a brief conference call shortly after he left), but most of the players I talked to were less concerned about his penalty than they were about everything else.
“Everybody has to uplift him,” Anthony Armstrong said, “don’t let that be the One Play That Ruins Everything, and keep his head up. There’s multiple plays out there that we could’ve had; it’s not a one play thing, and I don’t want anybody to get that mindset that, ‘Oh, if he wouldn’t’ve blocked him in the back then this or that’. [Heck], if we convert third downs and do what we did the first series over and over again, then yeah, we’re gonna do good.”
(In fact, Armstrong was still beating himself up about one of his own miscues: the dropped pass on the play immediately following his 45-yard reception. “It hit me right in the hands,” Armstrong said. “I just dropped the [darned] thing. That’s all. That’s on me. That’s just some concentration stuff — you gotta be able to bounce back from a long play and then catch the next one. Just gotta wipe it off and go with a clean slate.”
Speaking of things bouncing and getting wiped out, Armstrong also talked about being on the receiving end of this monster hit during the Redskins near-flawless opening drive.
Here’s a screenshot in case the video gets pulled down.
Armstrong was surprisingly sanguine about the whole experience. “It was one of those hits that defenders dream about,” he said. “A guy’s not looking — and I think I jumped a little bit, too, so that made it look even worse, but it really wasn’t that bad.”
Armstrong continued, “The worst thing is that I bit my lip and I was spitting blood for the next series and all that, but even that’s like that Tim Tebow picture where he had stuff all over his face. I kinda wish I had [blood] all over my face, it would’ve looked all tough, but, nah, it was just a good football hit. I didn’t have a problem with it. I just had to bounce up and try to get people happy and hype again.”
Of course, the way he bounced back up involved a spike of the ball that drew a Delay Of Game penalty (which is what made the opening drive nearly flawless instead of just flawless).
“I kinda spiked the ball a little bit and Easy Ed Hochuli got me for it,” Armstrong said sheepishly. “They had to talk him into that, though. That was the thing. They were over there talking him into it, and then they did it. I didn’t even try to defend myself. I just went to the huddle and was goin’ for the next play.”
Which turned out to be a good strategy; the Redskins converted a first down on the next play and Fred Davis caught a 10 yard touchdown the play after. If only the rest of the day had gone that smoothly.
UPDATE: Reader Dave G emailed in the photo that’s up top of this post, and this one, of the fan reactions. Click the image to enlarge, and be hypnotized by the sight of hundreds of people who think that their starting wide receiver has been decapitated.
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