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Halftime Report From Philadelphia

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 1, 2012 – 2:41 pm

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Redskins fullback Darrel Young spent four years of college only 17 miles from Lincoln Financial Field at Villanova University.  Villanova Stadium holds only 12,500 people, each of whom cheered on his defensive prowess

Today, in front of five time as many people, he’s silencing the Philadelphia crowd with his offensive ability, piling up 32 yards from a non-traditional playmaker position.  On top of that, he’s cleared the way for Evan Royster who continues his run of dominance as the Redskins tailback.

Averaging only 1.8 yards per carry in the first quarter, Royster has found his stride with 41 yards in the second quarter, including a 28-yard churn and burn scamper.  On that 28-yard run, he broke four tackles, something that Redskins running backs have struggled to do this season.  Forget the strategy of “one cut and go”– Royster cut four defenders nearly out of their shoes on one play.

At the half, Royster leads the team in both rushing and receiving yards.  Young is second and fourth, respectively.

One player that we should be celebrating in the first half is receiver Anthony Armstrong.  Armstrong has stretched the field deep today, but has been unable to sync up with quarterback Rex Grossman.  On two plays, Grossman was pressured and either checked down or forced the ball deep.  On the other play, he had time but it appeared that he waited half a beat too long, as the corner popped the ball in the air and the safety picked it off.

By trying the deep ball, the Redskins have opened up running plays and short passing routes underneath.  But the offense really needs these plays to work if they expect to keep pace in this game.

The Redskins passed up their best opportunity at points in the second quarter, when a field goal attempt from Graham Gano was blocked up the middle.  It’s been a frustrating year for blocked field goals, something that has been attributed in the past to the injuries and suspensions that the Redskins have weathered along the offensive line.  Whatever it is, it’s something that will need to be addressed in the offseason.

Receiver Jabar Gaffney had a solid first half, surpassing his career high in receptions with 67 this season.  His 25 yards put him within 56 yards of 1,000 on the season, for the first time in his career.  The Redskins need someone to step up big in the passing game in the second half.

After 30 minutes in The Linc, the Redskins still trail: Washington 0, Philadelphia 10.  Redskins will receive first in the second half.

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Halftime Report From FedExField

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 24, 2011 – 2:28 pm

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In the last two weeks Darrel Young has gone from an unsung hero in the blocking game, to being a weapon and playmaker on offense.  On the Redskins touchdown drive early in the second quarter, Young caught two passes for 33 yards.  At the time, he was the team’s top receiver, and it was Young’s top receiving day, ever.

Not a bad offensive performance for a former linebacker from an FBS college.

The drive was culminated in a short touchdown reception by receiver Donte’ Stallworth, who stretched the ball across the goal line before absorbing a savage hit.  He also negated a sack on the ensuing drive by converting a long third down with a nimble catch and run.

Stallworth has also been a bright spot for the Redskins down the stretch, providing sure hands on the field and quality leadership off of it.  Stallworth watched the Redskins-Dolphins game as a free agent before rejoining the team the following week.  He has two receptions for 24 yards today and 18 receptions for 266 yards and two touchdowns on the year.  He has 220 of his yards and both touchdowns since he rejoined the team.

Running back Evan Royster looked much more comfortable in the second quarter, rushing four times for 24 yards, increasing his game average to 5.9 yards per carry.  Not only has he found good yards after contact, he also played an instrumental role in picking up Stallworth’s long third down conversion by throwing a deep block.

The top defender in the first half has been one of the top defenders in the NFL this season–middle linebacker London Fletcher.  After falling behind early, he rallied his fellow defenders to get back on their horses and shut the Vikings out.  The Redskins–led by the NFL’s top tackler–haven’t yielded points to the Vikings since the 14:56 mark in the second quarter.

Brand new ballgame in the second half, as the Redskins brough it back to even: Washington 10, Minnesota 10.

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Halftime Report From New York

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 18, 2011 – 2:33 pm

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It’s just another wild day in the NFC East.

In the opening moments of the second quarter, Santana Moss hurdled another Redskins milestone, catching his 37th Redskins touchdown for his career, and 56th over.  He has now passed Ricky Sanders for sole possession of seventh place in Redskins history.

It’s only fitting that he does so in the city where his career started.

In the first 30 minutes of football, the Redskins have used five different ball carriers in the running game, using both active running backs, the fullback, and two wide receivers.

Anthony Armstrong’s 14-yard carry was a great combination of speed and vision, as a lesser man would have been tackled for a minimal gain.  His two rushes this season–the first of his career–have gone for 19 yards.

Darrel Young’s six-yard burst to paydirt was the first rushing touchdown of his career.  The Amityville, N.Y.-native was greeted in the north end zone by a chorus of 80,000 boo birds and appropriately inappropriate hand gestures, as he just nodded his head and smiled.

That 17-0 lead matched the Redskins’ largest lead of the season, dating back to Week 4 against the St. Louis Rams.  There’s a lot of football left, but as I said before the game, the Redskins don’t have the look of a sacrificial lamb today.  On the other hand, some members of the Giants’ 99 percent victorious team seem to have visions of January dancing in their heads.

On defense, the whole unit gets a pat on the back at halftime, but special consideration goes to free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, who snagged his second interception of the year on a tipped ball by London Fletcher in coverage.  This is the first takeaway for the ball-hawker since the Philadelphia game in Week 6, the 24th interception for his career.

Atogwe has certainly had a frustrating year with injuries, but has shown up in a big way this afternoon.\

Given the Redskins’ struggles in the second half, save the sigh of relief for the final gun.  But there’s no question that this first half of football set the tone for the Redskins afternoon.

Redskins up at the half: Washington 17, New York 3.

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Redskins Halftime Report

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 4, 2011 – 2:39 pm

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For much of the season, the Redskins defense has bailed out the offense, clinching wins and keeping games close.  For the last two weeks, the offense has returned the favor, piling up 183 total yards in the first half.

After yielding a 17-play touchdown drive to the Jets to close out the first quarter, the offense took the momentum back and marched down the short field and set up a 33-yard chip shot for kicker Graham Gano.

The defense cordially returned their kindness, by forcing a three-and-out.  On the following drive, London Fletcher chased Jets speedster Santonio Holmes down from behind after a swing pass out of the backfield.  That Jets drive stalled and ended in a long field goal to tie it up.

Such intra-team harmony.

The top play on offense right now is tight end Fred Davis, who is playing absolutely lights-out football with four receptions for 82 yards.  As of now, he’s on pace for a season-high (105 yards, Week 1) and career-high in yardage.  His 82 yards at the half are tops in the league for Sunday, and second in the NFL for the week, behind a 90-yard performance by Riley Cooper on Thursday.

The Redskins haven’t won at home since Sept. 18, when they beat the Arizona Cardinals.  With the Redskins currently leading by three, this is the first home halftime lead for the Redskins since Week 2, and only their second of the season.

After last week’s win over the Seahawks on the road, the home fans are pumped up today, producing some of the best FedExField noise of the season.  When a sprinkling of the famous “J-E-T-S, Jets Jets Jets” has been chanted in the stands, Redskins fans have responded with “H-O-M-E, Go Go Home!”

Points for creativity, Redskins Nation.

The top unit of the first half was the special teams coverage and return teams, which were indirectly responsible for six points.  In the first quarter, it was the Armstrong’s 28-yard return off the Banks flip that set up the Redskins go-ahead field goal.  In the second quarter, it was a body-rock by Niles Paul that jarred the ball loose from the Jets returner, setting up the Perry Riley fumble recovery.  Even though the Jets red zone defense held, the coverage unit set them up in easy field goal range, which once again gave the Redskins the lead.

Those are the plays that the team would love to see end in touchdowns, but field goals are the difference in the first half of play.

At halftime, the Redskins are leading at home: Washington 13, New York 10.

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Halftime Review From Seattle

Posted by Brian Tinsman on November 27, 2011 – 5:38 pm

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This was a strange first half of football, with the Redskins firmly controlling this game, for better and for worse.  Here are the two teams, by the numbers:

Redskins: 36 total plays, 14 first downs, 233 total yards, touchdown, 45 yards in penalties.  Time of possession, 19:42.

Seahawks: 25 total plays, 7 first downs, 120 yards, touchdown, 21 yards in penalties. Time of possession, 10:18.

The Redskins have played well so far–better than most expected–but they should actually have a lead going into halftime.  Unfortunately, through penalties and a blocked field goal, the Redskins dominant performance has been stymied by themselves, thus far.

For the Redskins, whatever boiled over before the game needs to be moved to the back burner in the second half.  There has been more aggression during the play and more smack talk after the whistle than the two Redskins-Cowboys match-ups combined.  These two teams haven’t even played each other since 2008, and not many players remain from the 2005 and 2007 playoff games.

I understand that the Redskins have Josh Wilson’s back, but did I miss something?  Wilson seems to be only player who hasn’t lost his cool.  If things don’t settle down in the second half, the officials are going to become a factor, and nobody wants that.

With that being said, the Redskins have laid the groundwork for the rest of the game, with a good first half.  The defense is playing well, only giving up the touchdown on a short field.  The offense is playing well, having established the passing game against the wind, and getting Roy Helu involved early on the ground.  Through time of possession and momentum, the Redskins have also silenced the fabled 12th Man, keeping the crowd mostly out of the game.

In honor of the strange first half, let’s take a look at two strange plays that actually worked out in the Redskins’ favor:

1. Although Rex Grossman will be criticized for his illegal forward pass in the first quarter–which amounted to him throwing, receiving, and throwing the ball again–he actually did his team a favor with his gaffe.  Had he taken the tackle for a loss from the charging Seahawks lineman, the down and distance would have been approximately second-and-15.  Because he decided to throw the ball, he was penalized five yards and given a replay of down, amounting to a first-and-15.  A mistake?  Yes.  But a good mistake for the Redskins, in that situation.

2. Kicker Graham Gano is responsible for plus-eight points for the Redskins today, kicking the PAT on the first quarter touchdown, as well as making the saving tackle on the ensuing kickoff.  Whatever blocking scheme the Seahawks employed worked to perfection, opening up a hole big enough for a Panzer to drive through.  Fearlessly standing in between Seahawks returner Leon Washington and paydirt, was Redskins No. 4, who channeled his best Sav Rocca for a tackle.  It didn’t quite work, but he did stifle Washington long enough to allow Terrence Austin and Lorenzo Alexander to come in and clean it up.

It’s all knotted up at the halfway point in Seattle: Redskins 7, Seahawks 7.

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Second Quarter Non Sequiturs

Posted by Brian Tinsman on November 6, 2011 – 3:35 pm

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If the Redskins had been able to end the half at the 2-minute warning, it would be a much happier feeling in the locker room at halftime

Through the first 28 minutes of the first half, the Redskins have found a rhythm that fans haven’t seen since the first half of the Rams game, over a month ago.

From committing to the run, to improved coverage in the secondary, the Redskins did a lot of things right in the first half.  Here’s the highlights:

On offense: The Redskins are running the football with good success.  Roy Helu is a dual threat out of the backfield, and has taken the pressure off of John Beck to spark the offense.  In the first half, Helu has nine rushes for 40 yards, and an additional 30 through the air.  This makes him the team’s leading rusher and receiver.

Offensive guard Maurice Hurt has handled his assignment as starting left guard, holding 49ers defensive end Justin Smith at bay so far.  The entire line is back in a better rhythm after the return of left tackle Trent Williams.

On defense: Despite missing free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, the secondary is holding up much better this week, holding Alex Smith to seven-for-12 for 88 yards and a touchdown.  The Redskins are getting pressure on Smith and forcing him out of the pocket, because they aren’t allowing the receivers to get open.  The pressure has only hit home once so far on the Ryan Kerrigan sack, but they’ve kept the 49ers passing game quiet, for the most part.

The 49ers were held without a third down conversion for the whole first half, with the 49ers missing on six opportunities.  Running back Frank Gore has seven rushes for 65 yards in the first half, but the defense has held him without a game-changing run.

On special teams: Punter Sav Rocca continues to amaze in the battle for field position, dropping another punt inside the 20, zero touchbacks, and a 47.5-yard average.  Some players have ups and downs, but Rocca has yet to disappoint in Washington.

Standing on the Redskins emblem at midfield, kicker Graham Gano absolutely crushed a 59-yard field goal to end the first half.  That’s the longest of his career by nine yards, and he’s put up the only Redskins points  of the day.  There are some that disagree with his post-kick point to the sky, but he can do hand springs and River dance after that boot.  I’m sure that even Rocca was impressed.

That was, of course, the good of the first half, but the Redskins have to play mistake-free football in the second half.  They’re winning the time of possession battle by about 40 seconds, but they need to win the turnover battle today as well.

The second half from Washington up next; 49ers on top, 13-3.

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Halftime Musings

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 19, 2011 – 8:37 pm

So far, the offseason additions orchestrated by head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen have made the Redskins click.  Here are some quick-hitting stats:

  • The Australian Punting Prince, Sav Rocca has yet to take the field except as a holder for field goals.
  • The Redskins offense has 16 first downs in the first half.  The Colts have one.
  • The Redskins have 160 rushing yards, more than they had all last week.  The Colts have one.
  • The Redskins have converted five-of-eight 3rd downs. The Colts have yet to convert one.
  • The Colts have run 41 total plays. The Colts have run 14.
  • John Beck is 13-for-16.
  • And most importantly, the Redskins have 16 points, and the Colts have zero.

No question that the running game has been the staple of this offense, and the backs have been successful no matter who is in.  This is a testament to the coaching of Bobby Turner and the talent of the backs, but this is also an indication of a dominant line.

The Redskins offensive line was a much-maligned group last year, and deservedly so.  But despite only one offseason addition to the starting unit (guard Chris Chester), and returning four starters, the line looks night-and-day better.  Maybe it’s the product of the preseason.  Maybe it’s a product of a second year in the zone blocking scheme.  But this unit is blowing open running lanes, and the one-cut backs are hitting the holes perfectly.

For so many new faces at skill positions, the offense is playing like a well-oiled machine.

On defense, the team isn’t allowing Indianapolis to gain any traction.  Despite resting key starters in the secondary, the defense has only yielded only 40 yards through the air.  The defensive line is controlling the line of scrimmage, allowing only one yard on the ground.


Graham Gano has gone a long way towards silencing his critics, staying perfect on the preseason: 3-for-3 on field goals and nailing an extra point.  At this rate, Clint Stitser may be back selling real estate in Reno pretty soon.

Redskins 16, Colts 0.

Who is your top performer in the first half?

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Second Quarter Musings

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 12, 2011 – 9:01 pm

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“Whooaa, we’re half-way there…”

Familiar faces took over in the second quarter for the Redskins, as Rex Grossman hooked up with Santana Moss in the redzone for an 8-yard touchdown pass.

This is the Sexy Rexy the Redskins wanted to see, and he has jumped out to an early lead in the quarterback competition.  He’s made up for lost time this week in practice and it culminated in a pretty good performance against the Steelers defense.  Granted, he looked best against the Steelers second and third stringers, but he was very efficient throughout.

The Grossman-to-Moss connection was pretty solid all night.  Towards the end of the half, he had some failed connections with Santana Moss, but that looked more like miscommunication than anything.

It’s the preseason for everyone.

The offensive line deserves a lot of credit for their performance tonight, opening up holes in the running game and keeping Grossman upright in the backfield.  On the other side of the ball, the defensive blitz was collapsing the pocket and getting good pressure on Byron Leftwich.

Two of the biggest concerns going into this game were the two lines, and both played remarkably well.  It’s hard to judge from a 30 minutes of Preseason Vanilla, but it looks like the Redskins are playing better up front.

In case no one else noticed, Brandon Banks is a man on fire.  On his only punt return, he followed his blockers for a 19-yard return.  On his only kick return, he followed his blockers for a 58-yard lead.  When he had the blockers, he followed his vision and cut well on his knee.  When he didn’t have the blocks, he fair-caught the ball.  Not much more that you can ask: good decision-making, good results, good showing for the Redskins return man.

Kicker Shayne Graham may have answered the Redskins kicking controversy by missing two field goals in the first half.  Rough night for No. 5, and unfortunately he has cost the Redskins the lead.

Score is tied at 7, Redskins faithful.

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The Debate on Super Bowl Halftime Shows

Posted by Matt Terl on January 28, 2009 – 3:38 pm

I walked into a bit of an argument today — or maybe heated conversation would be more accurate. Essentially, Kedric Golston and Lorenzo Alexander maintain that Mary J. Blige is just as well known as Bruce Springsteen. Not as popular, exactly, nor as successful, but possessing just as much name recognition. On the other side — the “Bruce Springsteen has sold over fifteen million records” side — were physical therapist Elliott Jermyn and Alex Buzbee.

What prompted the entire discussion was, of course, the fact that Bruce Springsteen is the scheduled Super Bowl halftime show. This fact has caused no end of discomfort for Springsteen’s fans, and I’m less than thrilled with the selection myself, although for completely different reasons.

Following on the heels of Tom Petty at last year’s game, this seems like an awful lot of Old White Guy classic rock two years in a row. On the other hand, I’m not sure that Mary J. Blige (or someone else of her stature) is going to keep people glued to their TVs.

Over at Shutdown Corner, Chris Chase counts down his top five all-time memorable Super Bowl halftime shows, and does a solid job of it. One of the ones he misses, though, seems to me to be the best model to follow: the Aerosmith/*NSync/Britney Spears/Mary J. Blige/Nelly performance from Super Bowl XXXV.

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