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Seattle is wearing its all-dark uniforms. It’s only 78 degrees at game time, but they’ll be in direct sun for most of three quarters. Probably only a slight difference, but that has to take something out of you as the game goes on.
Well, my call was to go deep on the game’s first play. We’ll find out here shortly.
It was for Moss, but it was a short-to-intermediate route that bounced as Moss caught it.
They game Thrash a pretty good cushion on a 13-yard completion for a first down.
The offensive line is just blowing the Seahawk defense away here on virtually every snap so far. Brunell has had good protection, too, except on the first pass. Virtually anyone could run or pass behind this bunch today. Perhaps they’ve been reading some of the recent criticism of their play in the papers.
Fourth and inches at the Seattle 20, Gibbs leaving his rookie kicker and holder on the sidelines and going for it. Portis takes the low guided Cruise missile route to the first down.
Now they have to go on anyway after a third and seven sack. Disaster as the kick never got off the ground and was blocked. Not only that, but they smacked it back about 20 yards giving them the ball at midfield. Good drive, bad ending. They got done what they needed to do in terms of establishing some offensive rhythm (15 plays), but couldn’t finish it off.
Frost and Novak are discussing what happened on the sidelines. The snap was good, the hold seemed OK, but it only takes a little bit off for a kick to go astray.
It gets them a 52-yard field goal. That one by Josh Brown was also low, as many long kicks are, but it has enough distance and snuck in the lower left corner of the end zone.
James Thrash is becoming Mr. Clutch, moving the sticks with regularity. Two third-down conversions for him in the first 10 minutes of play.
As the first quarter moves on, the Seattle DL is getting quite a bit more active. They’re getting some penetration, although they don’t seem to be able to generate a pass rush without a blitz (as is the case with the Redskins). Still, another drive that was productive without any points being scored.
If I’m Danny Smith, I put into each punter’s contract that it’s a $1,000 fine if you punt it into the end zone from inside midfield and a $1,000 bonus for each time it’s downed inside the 20. A 20-yard net on a punt like Frost just got is pretty worthless, you might as well go for it.
Good play call by Holmgren on third and three, a play action right, leaving the TE with lots of running room.
Not sure why there wasn’t a holding call on Hasselbeck’s second and 20 pass attempt. Cornelius Griffin was right in front of him and the offensive lineman was behind him and hanging on for dear life. No matter as Philip Daniels just needed about two steps of penetration to bat down Hasselbeck’s third-down pass.
Often overlooked about Santana Moss because of his speed are his hands. He has a great ability to snatch the ball out of the air and put it away in one quick motion.
We’re starting to see Gibbs’ offense at work. Third and two, Cooley lined up at fullback, no TE’s lined up, three wides, a little pass to Cooley good for 11 yards.
It’s back to Brunell having all day to throw again. Robert Royal seemed to be his fourth option on a third and ten play. It seemed like he would have had time to go back to his first and second options if he wanted to, but Royal just got the first.
Moss’ hands on display again on the catch in the end zone that was reviewed. He got the ball into his body so quickly that he got possession before he hit the ground. It was close, but it was the correct call from the view here.
Finally, a first-half touchdown. Nice touch by Brunell on the little pass to Royal on third and goal. Sixteen play drive, 85 yard drive. Four third down conversions from as little as one yard and as long as ten, Brunell 7-9 for 71 yards. Seattle generally seemed to have no idea what the Redskins were going to do and, when they did, they were unable to stop it.
Still, when a game goes like this and you’re dominating on both sides of the ball and you look up at the scoreboard and you’re only up by four, you have to be somewhat concerned. Another score before halftime would make the breathing a bit easier.
Third and 11 for Seattle in Redskins territory, crowd roaring, false start. Seems like old times.
It may seem dumb to make a diving fair catch rather than just let the ball go, especially when time is running out in the half, but Thrash possible prevented the ball from bouncing off of a teammate, which could have been disaster. If he doesn’t field the punt on the dive, he certainly pushes it out of bounds. Smart football, smart football player.
Halftime stats show Alexander with 12 yards rushing, showing that you can’t gain yardage while you’re on the sideline. Brunell has a triple-digit QB rating at 104.7, probably a first for him with the Redskins even for a half.
Some dumb football by Seattle on the second-half kickoff. On a high kick, the receiver called for a fair catch, sort of, but took off anyway. It cost Seattle five plus the few yards that the return was for.
Good drive going on by Seattle, they’re giving Hasselbeck time to throw, or, rather, they’re having him throw quickly. They’ll need to tighten up the coverage some if they’re going to stop the West Coast Offense death by a thousand paper cuts.
A sack was critical, as was a picked-up flag on Springs that would have resulted in a first down. For Seattle, it was death by a 47-yard FG try that was short. Without the sack yardage, it would have snuck through. They said that Springs made illegal contact with a receiver and he essentially admitted it, but it was after Hasselbeck was already underneath Lamar Marshall.
The offensive line is inconsistent so far, sometimes getting a good push, sometimes Seattle can blow up plays in the backfield.
Mike Sellers isn’t just an offensive tackle with an H-back’s number. He can actually catch passes and score touchdowns. That PI call to set up the score looked pretty shaky to me, but it’s not as though such flags haven’t been thrown against the Redskins over the past several years.
To show my East-Coast bias, I never realized what a good receiver Darrell Jackson is. He catches anything thrown in his ZIP Code.
A blitz—and a good blitz pickup—leaves Engram all alone on third and ten. Looks like Seattle may get closer here.
They do on an Alexander TD run up they middle. Not a good series by the Washington defense there. They paid for blitzing on a couple of occasions, the last one converting the third and 10. Credit Seattle with doing a good job of picking it up.
It’s OK to throw to a receiver who’s at a dead stop short of the first down if the receiver is Clinton Portis. Great move to pick up the first on third and nine.
We have had a big-time Chris Cooley sighting today. After being mostly silent after his TD in the Bears game was nullified, he’s picked up some nice yardage today. Gibbs is finding ways to work him open—usually wide open—and he’s catching the ball with all kinds of running room.
Nick Novak needed that one—a 40-yard field goal with plenty of distance and right down the middle.
That’s the second straight kickoff that’s been high and short. Seattle did make the fair catch on this one. Are they kicking off that way intentionally?
A Smart play by Cedric Killings. He slammed on the brakes when he recognized a second and 15 screen instead of shooting in on the quarterback. He turned and helped make the tackle after a short gain. Looks like all that NFL Europe playing time did him some good.
Another smart play sighting. Portis swept out on third and two and instead of stopping and cutting in an attempt to make a big run, he turned sideways, slid through a crack, and make the first down by plenty.
Sack specialist Demetric Evans in the game at left end. Let’s see if he can get something going as far as a pass rush from the front four.
Fourth and one at their own 34. Will Seattle actually go for it. Lots of time left, a stop ends the game. They’re almost certainly going to pass as Alexander has been hitting a brick wall for most of the day.
Good call—or maybe good play by Hasselbeck—to pick up the first on a scramble. Well, you can’t allow a 14-yard completion on third and 15.
Alexander is picking up some steam as this game goes on. You certainly can’t accuse Mike Holmgren of giving up on him.
First and ten at the 12 for Seattle. The Redskins didn’t take advantage of their early domination and they could end up paying for it.
They do as Seattle ties it up. Drove it 90 yards, 14 plays down the Redskins’ throat with the screaming crowd that grew quieter on each third-down as it seemed inevitable that Hasselbeck would convert. No hint of being a soft team on the road there, that’s for sure. And my dark uniform theory is pretty much out the window as well.
That’s the way the ball bounces. Seattle’s got a shot to steal the win.
Wide left. New life. Dodged a bullet, not time to go downstairs just yet.
A mini recreation of the last five minutes in Dallas in overtime with Brunell picking up key yards on a scramble and Moss making the catch and run that win it.
It was a happy locker room, but under control. They realize that they’ve won nothing yet and there’s a long way to go. Still, there was a little more excitement there today. As Gibbs left the podium in the interview room and Moss was approaching the front of the room, the two exchanged enthusiastic congratulations. Later, I was passing by Brunell, who might recognize me from Redskins Park but we’ve never had a one-on-one conversation, and he gave be a big smile and slap on the back like I was an old college buddy.
I asked Novak about the short, high kickoffs and he confirmed that they were by design. He almost told me what they call that type of kick, but he caught himself, afraid of giving away company secrets.
Novak’s a good kid, easy to root for. When he was asked whether or not he watched John Brown’s potential game-winner at the end of regulation, he said that he did, but that he didn’t openly root for Brown to miss, not wanted to create “bad karma”. When a reporter followed up and asked what he meant by that, Novak looked puzzled that anyone wouldn’t get it. He asked back, “Don’t you understand what bad karma is?” A classic response to a dumb question.
Losers of two straight games and for the first time in a month outside of the playoff picture, a desperate Redskins squad travels to Philadelphia for a 1 p.m. game on Sunday. All the action kicks off on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at noon, but to get ready for the action, here are five storylines to watch:
- Getting back to good, or at least decent - Two weeks ago the Redskins seemed like a dangerous playoff squad with a strong offense and an improving defense. After two straight losses where Joe Barry's defense has given up 62 total points, the questions are mounting for Washington. Can the defense get stops on 3rd down? Generate a turnover? The good news for the Redskins is that the Eagles are struggggggling. Their offense has not score more than 15 points in three straight weeks.
- Feed the fat one - After giving Rob Kelley just 28 carries in the last two games, Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay owned up to the Redskins lack of run game, "I definitely feel like I could’ve been more patient on some of those early down and distances where you get a little bit pass-heavy. And that’s something that as a decision-maker and as a coordinator, I have to do a better job." In a Week 6 win Kelley and Matt Jones piled up more than 200 rush yards against the Eagles. The 'Skins offense likely won't feature Jones, but expect McVay to feed Fat Rob plenty on Sunday.
- Playing in pain - The Redskins offense features a number of dynamic playmaking threats, but arguably the best is tight end Jordan Reed. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Reed separated his left shoulder, and though he finished that game he was forced out of action in Arizona. Expect Reed to be back Sunday, and expect Kirk Cousins to look for him early and often. On the season, Reed has more than 600 receiving yards and five TDs.
- If it ain't broke - Kirk Cousins has had more success against the Eagles than any other team in the NFC East. In four career games against Philly, COusins averages 336 yards per game passing to go with a 101.3 QB rating. He's thrown 10 touchdowns against the Eagles to just two interceptions. The biggest win of his career came last year when Cousins and the 'Skins clinched the NFC East title at Lincoln Financial Field. Cousins suceeds against the Eagles, and there's no reason it should stop Sunday.
- Don't fly away - Rumors are starting to circulate that the Eagles would like to bring back DeSean Jackson next season. It's well known that Jackson will probably hit free agency after this season, and if Philly did pursuit their former playmaker, it would make sense. But between now and then, Jackson has another opportunity to torch his former team and help the Skins pursue a Wild Card bid at the same time. In his past two games, Jackson and COusins have connected on deep patterns, and there's little reason to tbink the same won't happen Sunday.
Numbers & Notes
- If tight end Vernon Davis catches three passes he will become the 12th tight end in NFL history to record 500 career receptions.
- With two more catches, wide receiver Jamison Crowder will set a single-season career high in receptions. He caught 59 passes in 2015.
- If the Redskins win would mark five straight victories against the Eagles for the Redskins for the first time since a six-game winning streak in the series across the 1981-84 seasons.
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Here is my weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL:
Before we get going, let’s line up the NFL wild card contenders by current seed and their remaining four games.
Giants (8-4): Cowboys, Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (7-5): Saints, @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (6-5-1): @Eagles, Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (6-6): @Jaguars, Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (6-6): Seahawks, @Bears, Vikings, @Lions
Cardinals (5-6-1): @Dolphins, Saints, @Seahawks, @Rams
Saints (5-7): @Bucs, @Cardinals, Bucs, @Falcons
Eagles (5-7): Redskins, @Ravens, Giants, Cowboys
—The Redskins can knock the Eagles out of any practical chance of making the playoffs with a win on Sunday. An Eagles loss would mean they could finish no better than 8-8 and that is highly unlikely to get it done this year.
—For a second straight week, Redskins fans need to root for Cowboys to win. Or for their opponent to lose. Some wanted to make that distinction last week when Cowboys played the Vikings and the optimal outcome for the Redskins was a Dallas win. However you want to look at it, a Giants loss to Dallas could move the Redskins to within a half game of the No. 5 seed.
MORE REDSKINS: Assessing the four remainig opponents
—There should be no hesitation about pulling for the Saints to beat the Bucs. A Washington win and a Tampa Bay loss puts the Redskins back into playoff position with the No. 6 seed. The Bucs are 2.5-point favorites at home. They are the hot team, coming in with four straight wins while New Orleans has lost three of four. The Saints are on the fringe of contention but Redskins fans need to pull for the teams ahead of Washington in the standings.
—The Redskins can’t look for much help when it comes to the team immediately behind them in the standings. The Vikings visit the Jaguars, who are locked in to yet another season of double-digit losses. You might be tempted to look for the home underdog to put up a fight and they might. But Blake Bortles has thrown three pick sixes this year and the Vikings have returned two interceptions for TDs this year. Look for such a play to be decisive and for the Vikings to remain tight with Washington in the standings.
—The other team a half game behind the Redskins is the Packers. They host the Seahawks in what could be very snowy conditions in Green Bay. Seattle is a three-point favorite but if the weather gets crazy anything could happen. Redskins fans need to root for the Seahawks, for obvious reasons.
—The Cardinals creeped back into contention with their win over the Redskins. That win and the fact that they have a tie on their ledger means that the Redskins do not want to finish with the same record as Arizona. This is one of the few situations where a tiebreaker would matter. It’s an easy call to pull for them to fall to the AFC Dolphins.
—I went 2-1 last week, winning with the Patriots over the Rams and the Seahawks over the Panthers. I have four NFL picks this week, all of them road favorites: the Redskins -1 on the road over the Eagles, the Cowboys -3 at the Giants, the Falcons -6 over the Rams in L.A., and the Seahawks giving three to the Packers.