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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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Redskins Playbook: 3 under-the-radar players who could make big impact

Redskins Playbook: 3 under-the-radar players who could make big impact

Much of the Redskins offseason has been focused on players like Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins, or the addition of guys like Terrelle Pryor and Zach Brown. Further down the roster, however, is where games are won. Here's a look at three players that will have the opportunity to make a big impact in 2017.

  1. Kendall Fuller - Let's be honest: the second-year Hokie had a tough rookie year. He started the season injured, and probably wasn't all the way up to speed when he began playing Week 4. Early on he produced at a good level for a rookie, but quickly, the league saw how to beat him. In a November game against the Vikings, Fuller repeatedly got beat on the inside by Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs. After that, the Redskins coaching staff looked elsewhere for a slot corner. 2017 is a new season, and Fuller will be a full year removed from his knee injury. He still has good vision and hips, an NFL pedigree, and should have the first crack at the slot corner role. If he can produce like many expected from him in 2015 - when he was an assumed first-round pick - Fuller could make a big difference for the Washington defense. Third round draft pick Fabian Moreau might also push for snaps at corner, once he gets healthy. 
  2. Stacy McGee - A new addition to the defense, McGee might be the answer Redskins fans want at nose tackle. Last season was by the far the best of McGee's career, and he emerged as a strong run stopper in Oakland. With his frame, and Jim Tomsula's coaching, McGee might play a big role this fall. His biggest hurdle? Staying healthy. In four seasons in the NFL, McGee has only played 16 games one season. Last year, he was limited to just nine games.
  3. Spencer Long - A free agent at the end of the season, Long comes in to 2017 looking to prove he can be a top tier center in the NFL. He excelled in pass blocking and calling the assignments on the Redskins line, but his run blocking could improve this fall. The literal centerpiece of a strong, young 'Skins line, 2017 will be a big opportunity for Long. Don't forget Washington moved up to draft Chase Roullier from Wyoming in the 6th round, and he played center and guard in college. Life in the NFL always has pressure, and Long will be facing some.

Always something on social: Enjoy the weekend folks.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Who will surprise, who will play NT

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Who will surprise, who will play NT

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 27, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

It’s been 146 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 106 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 17
—Training camp starts (7/27) 61
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 75

The Redskins week that was

Here are some of the most popular post from the last week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com

How well will the Redskins' defense adjust to six new starters? The Redskins unquestionably got an infusion of defensive talent but as we have seen in the past that does not guarantee better results. Throw a new defensive coordinator into the mix and it could take some time for this unit to reach its full potential. I think that there will be struggles early in the season and a better (but not dominant) unit by the time November rolls around.

Which Redskins will surprise in 2017? Every player carries expectations into the season. Some will be better than we believe right now (think of what many thought Vernon Davis would do last year) and some will play worse (Josh Doctson). I take out the crystal ball to figure out who will exceed expectations and who will fall below them.

Don't count out 3rd straight franchise tag for Cousins—Yes, Bruce Allen said that he is willing to franchise tag Kirk Cousins for a third time next year, a move that would cost $34 million for one season. But I think that’s a total bluff; the Redskins’ salary cap situation for 2018 would make such a move very difficult for them to pull off. The best hope for Cousins being a Redskin in 2018 is getting him signed to a long-term contract by July 15 of this year. The tone of the conversation regarding a new deal has been positive lately but the team must come up with a serious offer for a deal to happen.

For Redskins, finding a nose tackle needs to be a priority—Well, it’s up to Jim Tomsula to “make” a nose tackle. Phil Taylor is a true NT and he will get a shot. But he hasn’t played a snap since 2014. Undrafted free agent Ondre Pipkins also has nose tackle size at 6-3, 325. But he is a long shot, as are the Redskins’ chances of being significantly better against the run if they don’t find someone, anyone to be an adequate solution as the nose tackle.

Did Vernon Davis make the NFL change celebration rules? Although I prefer the John Riggins way of celebrating a touchdown—hand the ball to the referee because you’ve been in the end zone before and you expect to be back again soon—elaborate celebrations don’t bother me. After a TD in a game I’m covering I’m focused on writing about the scoring drive. When I’m watching at home, my attention goes to Twitter or to the refrigerator. I do think that it was dumb for the Redskins to lose 15 yards of field position because Vernon Davis put a jump shot over the crossbar so that’s why I’m glad that the NFL changed the celebration rules.

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.