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Cundiff comes through when it counts for Redskins

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Cundiff comes through when it counts for Redskins

TAMPAAfter Sundays 24-22 victory over the Buccaneers, Billy Cundiff put his foot up on a chair in the jubilent visitors' locker room. As he tied his shoe, wide receiver Josh Morgan bent over, grabbed a shower towel and pretended to polish the kickers Oxford.

They let out a hearty laugh.

A few minutes earlier on the field at Raymond James Stadium, Cundiff, Morgan and the rest of the Redskins had let out a sigh of relief after the team avoided a potentially devastating defeat.

The visitors had blown a 16-point second half lead, but with seven seconds remaining Cundiff booted a 41-yarder to clinch the win.Cundiff had missed his first three field goal attempts, including a 31-yarder in the fourth quarter.

I knew if I just got that chance -- no matter how bad a kicker I was in the game -- that I would make it, Cundiff said after the game.

Asked what was different on the game winner, the veteran cracked, We could get really kicker specific, or I could just tell you that I didnt choke.

Cundiff acknowledged that he probably would have been looking for a new job on Monday had he missed a fourth attempt and the Redskins lost by a single point. As it turned out, though, hell almost assuredly be in Ashburn, studying what we went wrong on the other three kicks.

I was just hoping he could keep focus after he missed the first one, Coach Mike Shanahan said. I told him it was going to come down to the game-winner and it did. He did a great job of concentrating.

But it wasnt easy, Cundiff conceded later.

It is tough, he said of being confident on the final kick after struggling. This place wasnt sold out, but everyone who was there essentially was reminding me of bad I performed earlier in the game. To find out about yourself, you have to be tested.

Here are some other notes, quotes and observations from the Redskins slump-busting victory:

Second half slipup:After limiting the Buccaneers to six points in the first half, the Redskins again struggled with big pass plays in the second half.

Two in particular hurt thema 65-yard completion to Mike Williams on a drive that culminated in a touchdown and a 54-yard pass to Vincent Jackson that also led to a score.

They made plays, said cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who had an interception as well as a few of blown coverages. They caught the ball. I gave up a couple.

Safety Madieu Williams added: We have to look at the film and be very critical of ourselves. Because in this league, you have to play four quarters. Although we played very well in first half, we have to play the complete game and we have yet to do that.

Injury update:Brandon Meriweather will have an MRI on his left knee on Monday after being involved in a scary pre-game collision with Aldrick Robinson. Both players had been expected to play but were put on the inactive list.

Meriweather was scheduled to make his season debut after missing the first three games with a two sprained ligaments in his right knee.

Robinson, meantime, was knocked unconscious during the collision. He likely will be subject to the NFLs protocol regarding concussions.

With Meriweather sidelined, the team turned to veteran Reed Doughty instead of second-year safety DeJon Gomes, who had started the first three games but was struggling.

Up and down kind of day:Pierre Garon, who missed the previous two games with a foot injury, returned Sunday and scored his teams first touchdown when he recovered Robert Griffin IIIs fumble in the end zone.

It felt good to get back out there and help the team as much as I could, he said. I knew all week that I was going to play. I was not 100-percent but I did everything I could.

Overall, it was an uneven afternoon for Garon. He had the touchdown, one reception (on one target) for 20 yards and drew a pass interference call. But he also was called for offensive pass interference and unnecessary roughness for throwing a late block on Aqib Talib.

It was during the play, playing through the whistle, he said.

Garon said he and his tender right foot emerged unscathed from the game.

Anatomy of miss (or three):Cundiff took fully responsibility for his first three misses.

On the first (from 41 yards) he said the timing between himself and snapper Justin Snow and holder Sav Rocca was off. The kick was yanked way wide of the uprights.

Its up to me to get in rhythm with those two guys, he said. Were still trying to gel and mesh.

On the second miss (from 57 yards) he said the snap and hold all went smoothly. He just didnt get enough leg into it. I was a yard or two short, he said. So that actually was not a bad kick.

The third (a miss from 31 yards) he called a, Complete mental error.

We got the win, but thats not the kind of stuff you want to put on film, he said. And thats not the stuff you want your teammates to see knowing that in the fourth quarter they have to be able to trust you.

Technical difficulties:Griffin said the one-way radio in his helmet stopped working on the final drive, which began inside two minutes.

In practice every week we always practice me calling the plays in the two-minute offense as if the headset goes out, Griffin said. I had to call a couple of my own plays and we moved the chains and got into field goal range. It was neat how that practice scenario played out in the game. You dont want it to happen, but I was pleased.

Griffin completed 26 of 35 passes for 323 yards all career highs.

Quotable: Ryan Kerrigan: "There's a huge different between 2-2 and 1-3. Hopefully this can be the start of something for us."

Quotable, part II: Hall on the Redskins defense Sunday: Average. We cant win letting leads like that go. Weve got to buckle down and finish games off.

By the numbers:The Redskins have scored 123 points through four games, the franchises highest point total during a four-game stretch since the 1999 season.

Play of the game:
With the Redskins leading 21-13 at the end of the third quarter, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called for a little trickery.

Griffin passed to Brandon Banks, who passed back to Griffin. Griffin then hit Niles Paul for a 30-yard gain.

It wasnt pretty, but it got the job done.

Unsung hero:
Trent Williams had a pronounced limp and a big brace on his right knee, but the starting left tackle played through the pain.

And, it should be noted, he played quite well after hardly practicing all week.

I got by, he said. I didnt totally dominate but we did enough to win. I was so caught up in the game, with it being so close, my knee was the last thing on my mind.

He added: I felt like I owe it to this team, to this city to get out there and battle through the pain.

Williams said he couldnt bring himself to watch Cundiffs final kick sail through the uprights.

I just watched Cundiffs reaction, he said. He made it when it counted.

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Need to Know: How many Redskins roster spots are up for grabs in 2017?

Need to Know: How many Redskins roster spots are up for grabs in 2017?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 19, 18 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 10
—NFL Combine (3/2) 11
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 57
—NFL Draft (4/27) 67
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 203

Sunday morning quick hitters

How many spots up for grabs? A quick mid-February look down the final 2016 53-man roster shows about 20 players who may not be on the roster for Week 1 this year. This includes players who may depart as free agents and others who just won’t make the team. They probably won’t turn over that many spots but it does show that a lot of jobs are up for grabs.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - It's tag day

How many draft picks? The Redskins have nine draft picks, their own in rounds 1-6 and extra picks in rounds 4, 5, and 6. It’s easy to say that Scot McCloughan may turn that into as many as a dozen picks, especially with all the roster spots that may be open. But remember that last year the Redskins wound up with just seven picks with no pick in the fourth and two in the seventh. McCloughan may intend to stockpile more picks but it depends on how the draft unfolds.

1st-round RB a bad idea: Yesterday JP and I posted on the topic of Rob Kelley as the Redskins’ prime running back this season and it drew quite a bit of discussion on Twitter and on Facebook. I think that they should try to get an upgrade over Kelley but I don’t think they should use their first-round pick to do it. There are just too many other, higher priority needs.

More Redskins: NFL Mock Draft 3.0

A turnaround for Matt Jones? Last year Trent Murphy broke out after two mediocre seasons to register eight sacks. Can Jones do the something similar in this, his third season? The rough equivalent of Murphy’s performance would be Jones rushing for 800 yards. It’s as much a matter of him holding on to the ball as anything. Jones was on pace to rush for over 1,100 yards before losing his grip on the starting job, literally and figuratively.

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Posted by Rich Tandler on Saturday, February 18, 2017

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins offseason questions: Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back?

Redskins offseason questions: Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: It's tag day

Will Rob Kelly be the lead running back?  

Tandler: Right off the bat here, let me say I like a lot about how Kelley plays. My contribution to this post may come off as “anti” Kelley but it’s just to provide balance to the gushing praise of Kelley that will ensue in JP’s part below.

Kelley started the last nine games of the season, getting the job after Matt Jones took his opportunity and imploded. The undrafted free agent played well. If you project the numbers from his nine starts out over 16 games you get 268 carries for 1,068 yards with 11 touchdowns.

That’s fine, but is it a strong enough performance to hand him the job, similar to the way that Jones was handed the job in 2016? Gaining a thousand yards is a good season but 12 backs got there this year. Kelley’s 3.98 yards per carry average as a starter would have been 26th in the NFL among backs with enough carries to qualify.

Again, a good season but not good enough that a team that has deep playoff aspirations should give him the job with no competition. There should be a vigorous battle for the job this year. Jones will still be around and maybe he will pull a Trent Murphy and suddenly become productive in Year 3. We haven’t seen a whole lot of Mack Brown but I’ve seen enough to want to see more. With nine draft picks, it would not be surprising to see Scot McCloughan grab a running back somewhere along the line. I’m not sure if Keith Marshall, last year’s seventh-round pick, can stay healthy but if he can they should line him up and see what he can do.

May the best back win. If that’s Kelley, good for him.

Finlay: Tandler going full hater mode early. I like it. As listeners of #RedskinsTalk the Podcast know, Rich and I have disagreed on Fat Rob for months. Before a knee injury slowed him down late in the year, Kelley was averaging well over 4 YPC and showed good movement behind the line of scrimmage as well as in the hole and beyond. He flashed plenty to be the lead runner in 2017.

But enough from me. Here's what Jay Gruden said of Kelley after the season ended:

"He’s one of the guys that I’m sure will probably have a scope when he’s done at the end of the season. I think great, great year for him as far as a rookie coming in as a free agent, being thrown into the fire like he was and performing like he did. I think there’s a lot of improvement that’ll be made with Robert. He’s going to get stronger, even get in more better shape. He’s going to understand the 16-game season, what it entails, how demanding it is on his body. He’s going to get himself ready to go. But he’s shown great vision, great toughness in the hole, great ball security. I think that’s a good starting point."

Competition is good, let the backs fight it out in Richmond, but I think Kelley wins the job again assuming the same group of RBs comes back. After gainging 700 yards in just nine starts in 2016, a 1,000 yard season is certainly in play for 2017.

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!