Fourth Quarter Fluctuations

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 11, 2011 – 5:49 pm

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With only two minutes left in the game, it looked like the Redskins were destined to capitalize on a defensive takeaway and drive the length of the field.  Here were my exact thoughts at the 2-minute warning:

In the classic kiss-of-death scenario, the CBS crew flashed the Tom Brady stats that he hadn’t thrown an interception in 200 consecutive passing opportunities, good for best in the league.

Thank you, CBS statisticians.

Two plays later, Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson ended that streak, plucking the ball away from would-be receiver Tiquan Underwood in the back of the end zone.  This follows in a long tradition of sports commentators ruining streaks for players, but the Redskins were the beneficiaries today.

In other television news, Brady was shown on the sidelines, trading obscenities with an assistant coach.  Brady remained seated on the bench, but the assistant had to be restrained by other players, including Underwood and Bill Belichick.  Whatever soap opera is being played out on the Patriots’ sidelines can only be a benefit to the Redskins at this point.

And that seemed like a logical perspective.  By getting the takeaway, not only had ample time to march the length of the field, but they had the opportunity to tie or win it without giving Brady another chance with the ball.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.  Santana Moss was flagged for offensive pass interference on a goal line reception, pushing them back to the 15.  On third-and-goal from the 10, Moss was hit as he made the reception, jarring the ball loose and causing an awkward hot-potato shovel pass to the safety in coverage.

Game over.

By losing today, the Redskins ensure a losing season and eliminate themselves from playoff consideration.  But for the first time all season, they stood toe-to-toe with a quality opponent.  Excluding the two Cowboys games, they haven’t played all that well against bona fide playoff competition.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Patriots are as bona fide as it gets, and they were playing all of their star players.  This was a Redskins team lacking both starting tight ends, both starting tackles (three offensive linemen total), and nearly pulling off something that 79 percent of football fans thought to be impossible.

What was the difference between the best team of the 2000s and your Redskins?  Today, it was about five yards.

What fans should take solace in, is that this team has proven that they’re headed in the right direction.  The guys that head coach Mike Shanahan called “developmental picks” and “guys that projected well,” are now working their way into the lineup and playing competently.  Obviously guys like Roy Helu are exceeding simple competency.

The Redskins could have folded today in the first quarter when the score was 14-3 and the Patriots were rolling.  This had all of the makings of a blowout, and no one would have been terribly shocked.  But instead, they clawed their way back in, literally taking it down to the last minute.

If the youthful core on this roster can stay healthy and continue to develop, they’re going to beat teams like the Patriots and win games like today’s down the road.  Unfortunately, it just didn’t quite happen today.

That’s all from FedExField, where the Patriots held on for the win: Washington 27, New England 34.

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Who Is Your MVR(edskin)?

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 11, 2011 – 5:09 pm

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Due to technical difficulties, the title of top Redskins performer today had to wait until after the game.  The good news is that it’s still a relevant question, and it’s still 100 percent up to you.  Who shined brightest this afternoon?

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Third Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 11, 2011 – 3:34 pm

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Through the first three quarters, Helu has 21 rushes for 105 yards.  By cracking the century mark, Helu is the new standard of consistency among rookie running backs, becoming the first in his 2011 draft class to rush for three consecutive 100-yard games.

He is also the first Redskins rookie running back in franchise history to pull off this feat.

Running for this many consecutive 100-yard games hasn’t been accomplished by a Redskins running back since Clinton Portis reeled off five-straight between Week 4-8 in 2008.

Are there really 104 rookies in the league that scouted out better than this young man?  If so, he could be one of the best-kept secrets of the 2011 NFL Draft.

In other news, welcome to Washington, receiver David Anderson.  Anderson was brought in as a slot receiver insurance policy when Santana Moss went down, but has quietly contributed in almost every game that he’s been active.  This week, he finally got to show off his touchdown strut, and elected not to do his patented No-Strings-Conan-O’Brien Dance.  Instead, he followed teammate Jabar Gaffney’s lead, and pulled off the “Landover Leap” into the crowd.

Anderson was wise enough to find some Redskins fans that were willing to catch him though.

This game is turning into one of the most unlikely shootouts of the year, with both offenses beating the respective defenses.  The Redskins need only a single point to match their season-high in points, dating back to Week 1 against the Giants.

New England on top with the ball and 15 minutes to play: Redskins 27, Patriots 34.

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Redskins-Patriots Halftime Report

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 11, 2011 – 2:40 pm

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It’s said that playmakers make plays, no matter where you put them.  It’s said that Brandon Banks is a playmaker.  But no one said that Banks could throw the ball.

The Redskins lined up with Roy Helu in the backfield, who took the handoff from Rex Grossman, and pitched it to Banks, who had snuck into the backfield.

The Patriots defense doesn’t view Banks as a viable pro passer, and they shouldn’t.  He’s a speed demon by trade, and this was clearly a play where the Redskins were looking to seal off the edge and rush the ball with Banks.  The linebacker was closing in, the safeties were charging in, and the cornerbacks were cheating off of their receivers.

That is until Banks slowed his roll-out, looked up field, and threw the football across his body to a wide-open Santana Moss, about 35 yards downfield.  Moss had to come back for the reception, but had his man beat, and danced his way to the end zone.

That gimmick play looks like a keeper.

The receiver-to-receiver pass was the first since Antwaan Randle El hit Chris Cooley for an 18-yard touchdown on Oct. 5, 2008 against Philly.  The 49-yard completion was the longest by a non-quarterback in Redskins history, and the longest of Brandon Banks’ life.

He never threw for a longer pass in college or high school–Pee Wee stats were unavailable.

The play was also Moss’s third touchdown this season, 55th for his career and 35th as a Redskins player, tying him with Ricky Sanders for seventh all-time.

The kickers tacked on the additional four and six points to bring the game to a 20-20 tie at the half.  This is six points more than the Redskins have put up all season in the first half.

Brand new ball game in Washington, with the Redskins and Patriots knotted at 20.

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First Quarter First Impressions

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 11, 2011 – 1:59 pm

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For better and for worse, this is not how the Redskins expected to start.  This has been a weird first quarter for both teams.

After their respective first scoring drives, the Redskins had 60 passing yards and the Patriots had 24.  The Redskins were able to drive the length of the field–albeit for a field goal–and the Patriots got their touchdown on defense.

In the first three minutes, Redskins returner Brandon Banks had three opportunities and two returns for a total of 38 yards. Donte Stallworth had his longest reception as a Redskins player at 51 yards, which happened to be Grossman’s longest pass of the year, and the Redskins’ longest offensive play of the season.

Kicker Graham Gano put the only Redskins points on the board so far, but he’s also responsible for a 20-yard penalty for kicking the ball off out of bounds.

In the stands in front of the press box there was a fight between fans–two Patriots fans, that is.

Somewhere, Vince Lombardi is politely inquiring what’s going on out there.

With the Patriots jumping out to a quick lead and the Redskins responding, this game has all of the makings of a track meet.  Stallworth–who is tied with Gronkowski for most yards in the league this Sunday–has seen a lot of playing time alongside Anthony Armstrong.

Following two consecutive 100-yard games on the ground, Roy Helu is churning and burning his way, to the tune of 51 yards, good for third in the league today.

Defensive end Stephen Bowen–who has had an emotional week with the funeral of his mother-in-law–burst through the line to end the first quarter with a sack.  He’s playing with a heavy heart this week, but was all heart on that play as he dragged No. 12 to the turf.  Well done, Stephen.

My picture-perfect moment of the first quarter was watching Jabar Gaffney do a FedEx leap onto Patriots fans who were not interested in catching him.  But the second row of Redskins fans hauled him up and celebrated his touchdown properly.

Redskins marching, down by four after the first quarter: Washington 10, New England 14.

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Marines On Hand To Collect Toys For Tots

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 11, 2011 – 1:00 pm

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As part of the Redskins’ Toys for Tots holiday toy drive, the Marines were on hand at FedExField today to man the collection boxes.  Fans were encouraged to bring unwrapped toy donations to the game and/or give monetary donations to the men in uniform.

This also happens to correspond with the Redskins’ Military Appreciation Week, culminating in today’s Redskins-Patriots game.

The Redskins will display “Salute to Service” banners on the sidelines honoring all branches of the United States armed forces, in addition to honoring members of the military on the field as well as on the video boards as part of the team’s season-long “Operation Salute Our Troops” campaign.

The following pregame and in-game ceremonies are planned to recognize both veterans and active members of America’s armed services: Read more »

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FedExField Retains Military Flavor

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 11, 2011 – 11:34 am

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In honor of the Redskins’ Military Appreciation Week, the  team has elected to keep the “ARMY” and “NAVY” print in the respective end zones from yesterday’s Army-Navy game.

The stadium has transformed mostly back into a Redskins Wonderland, however, with the Redskins emblem back at midfield and the Burgundy and Gold walls and goalposts.  But from the Toys for Tots Marines to the military families that stayed in town, you can expect to see a continued military presence throughout the afternoon.

Given the respective records of the two teams today, given the fact that the Patriots beat the Redskins 52-7 last time they met, there’s still reasons to believe that the Redskins can bring the ‘wow’ factor today.  The Redskins have found a beast in running back Roy Helu and the Patriots are yielding a pedestrian 4.2 yards-per-carry.

And plus, hey, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen thinks the Redskins will win, and he’s called 60 percent of the games correctly this season.  He may be the only analyst that has give the Redskins a fighting chance this week, but he caused others to reassess their own picks.  Does he know something that nobody else knows?  We’ll find out in about an hour and one-half.

This is a big respect game for the Redskins, especially on defense.  The Patriots have a 32nd ranked defense, but if the Redskins have a chance today, they have to beat Brady and the offense.  Here’s what’s being said:!/darrelyoung/statuses/145859100750778368!/Travon_Bellamy/statuses/145875206228017152

Regardless of what happens today, this is a Patriots team that is consistently good and looks to be heading back to the postseason.  This is a good measuring stick to see how the Redskins are progressing.

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