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Fletcher: 'You can feel the excitement'


Fletcher: 'You can feel the excitement'

In summary: Only one thing mattered to 37-year-old London Fletcher following Monday night’s 17-16 victory over the Giants: The Redskins' season remains relevant. 

“Playing meaningful games in December, it’s just a different atmosphere, a different feeling, a different preparation,” Fletcher said after gutting out another game on a gimpy ankle. “You can tell the excitement of the fans, the city. Just coming into the stadium, you saw how many people were out here early, ready for this game.”

Fletcher was asked if he could recall the last time FedEx Field rocked the way it did Monday. 

“This is the loudest I’ve seen FedEx since the Dallas game, the last game [of the] 2007 season,” he said after a moment of contemplation. Fletcher was referring to the Redskins’ wild-card clinching victory over the Cowboys in the 2007 season finale.

With their third consecutive win, the Redskins, at 6-6, have vaulted themselves back into the thick of the NFC East and wild card races. The Giants, meantime, fell to 7-5, while the Cowboys also sit at 6-6 after Sunday’s victory over the Eagles.

If you think about it, if we lose this game, we go down three games to the Giants,” Fletcher said. “It would have been highly unlikely for us to have a chance of winning the division. But now we’re a game back. We just made it very interesting.”

Interesting, indeed. 

Turning point: Early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins found themselves trailing 16-10. But Robert Griffin III directed a methodical, 12-play, 86-yard drive that culminated with an eight-yard Pierre Garçon touchdown reception that put the home team ahead for good. Garçon finished with eight receptions for 106 yards – three yards shy of his season-high.

“We came through when we needed to,” Garçon said. “That’s what a good team does when their back is against the wall.”

Offensive play of the game: Late in the first quarter, Josh Morgan scored his first touchdown of the season in bizarre fashion. The wide receiver was the pitchman on an option when Griffin, tucked the ball and turned up field. Griffin, however, fumbled at the Giants’ 13-yard line, bobbling the ball up in the air – and right into the hands of a streaking Morgan.

“It just bounced my way,” Morgan said laughing. “We game planned the option. We ain’t game-planned for him to do it the way he did it, but he made it happen. It worked out.”

It marked the second time this season a wide receiver recovered a Griffin fumble for a touchdown. In Tampa, Garçon pounced on a loose ball in the end zone.

Defensive play of the game: In the fourth quarter, the Redskins were clinging to a one-point lead when the pass rush finally delivered. Linebacker Rob Jackson sacked Eli Manning for a seven-yard loss at the Giants’ 14-yard line. The sack forced the visitors’ to punt and swung the momentum toward the Redskins for good.

Special teams play of the game: As important as Kai Forbath’s 33-yard field goal in the second quarter proved to be in a one-point victory, the Redskins benefited greatly from Lawrence Tynes missing a 43-yarder a few minutes earlier. Tynes entered the game tied for the league lead in field goals made (29) and was 6 of 7 from 40-49 yards out.

Injury report: Tackle Trent Williams said after the game that his bruised thigh, “felt terrible.” But he played through the pain and helped pave the way for the Redskins’ 207 yards on the ground. 

…Fletcher did not arrive in Landover wearing anything on his sprained left ankle but he left wearing an immobilizer boot. He said he did not reinjure the ankle and that the boot was for precautionary reasons.

…Giants tackle Sean Locklear was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, according to Giants Coach Tom Coughlin.

Quote of the day: Coughlin on his team scoring only three points in the final 30 minutes: “This is not real complicated. I don’t know what happened in the second half. They certainly didn’t come out and play.”

Quote of the day, Part II: Griffin joking about the fumble that resulted in a touchdown: “We’ve already gone through this. It was a pitch to Josh. I knew he was going to be there and I’m going to stay with the story.”

Game ball: Alfred Morris gets it after rushing for a career high 124 yards on 22 carries. With 1,106 yards, he broke the Redskins’ rookie record for rushing yards and moved into a tie with Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin for the league lead among rookies.

“It’s huge,” he said. “So much history here and to be able to do that, it says a lot. It’s a blessing, coming from where I came from. A lot of people didn’t think I was going to make the team. But I made the team. I’ve rushed for 1,000 yards and done a lot of things I didn’t think I was going to be able to do. But I believed in myself. And I have a coach that believes in me, and that makes me push that much harder."

By the numbers: The Redskins became the first team in NFL history to have a rookie pass for 2,000 yards and a rookie rush for 1,000 yards, according to the team.

By the numbers, Part II: The Redskins ended a 10-game losing streak at home on Monday night football. Their last win on MNF was over the Cowboys in Oct. 2007.

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Statistic Surprise - Redskins used Su'a Cravens sparingly against Detroit

Statistic Surprise - Redskins used Su'a Cravens sparingly against Detroit

The Redskins got a boost Sunday when rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens returned to the field after missing two games with a concussion. Interestingly, however, Cravens did not provide the spark many expected as he played just 11 of 53 defensive snaps.

Certainly it's possible the 'Skins coaches decided to ease their rookie back in after suffering a head injury. But that logic seems flawed - Cravens was cleared by the NFL concussion protocol, and once a player is cleared, it's for full-game action. 

Another thought might be that the Washington defense excelled while Cravens was out. He missed Redskins' wins in Baltimore and home against the Eagles, two games where Joe Barry's group shut down the opposing offenses. It's definitely possible coaches elected to stick with a combination of Will Compton and Mason Foster on the field at the inside linebacker positions.

Looking at snap counts from Compton and Foster, it appears that's what the coaches decided. Compton played every defensive snap, and Foster was on the field for 40 of the defenses 53 snaps. 

What, if any, role change that means for Cravens will be interesting. Before his injury, Cravens' playing time was trending up, as he had 29 snaps against the Giants and 27 snaps against the Browns before being injured in the 3rd quarter. Cravens was on the field as the nickel and dime linebacker in most situations.

Sunday, that wasn't the case, as the team played a lot of nickel. Slot corner Kendall Fuller, another rookie, was on the field for 40 snaps. 

Easing Cravens back in slowly was likely by design, and for a second-round pick with a mountain of promise, a prudent course for the Redskins coaches. That said, as CSN's Rich Tandler likes to point out, in the NFL, cleared is cleared. 

Cravens has playmaking ability, he's displayed that already this young season. In fact, he nearly pulled down Lions QB Matt Stafford for a sack on Sunday despite what looked like an obvious hold. 

Scot McCloughan drafted Cravens just for that - despite being a positional hyrbid, the rookie is a 'football player,' just like McCloughan wants. This Sunday against the Bengals, with two weeks of practice after the concussion, it will be interesting to see how many chances Cravens gets.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below.

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Barstool Nate professes love for Kirk Cousins & London football

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Barstool Nate professes love for Kirk Cousins & London football

JP Finlay catches up with  Barstool Nate as he professes love for Kirk Cousins and preview the Redskins game in London. Bonus: JP debuts a terrible British accent.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates