Let’s Beat This Horse Just a Bit More
There seems to be a lot of confusion over what transpired in the wake of that game-changing penalty call on Sunday. After the touchdown, there was a brief conversation between the line judge, Bill Spyksma, the man who made the call and referee Tom White. Here is what White said over the PA in “explaining” the call: Illegal motion. The man in motion was going forward prior to the snap. It’s a five-yard pentalty, fourth down (quickly realizing that the penalty didn’t carry a loss of down) third down. That started the confusion. As I said yesterday, that was not the infraction. Clearly, James Thrash was not moving at the snap of the ball. Thrash had gone in motion from left to right and the he stopped in the slot, apparently looking to pick up a blitz. When he stopped his motion had become a shift and he was required to stop for a full second before the snap. It was clear that he did not.
The TV announcers seemed to think the call was against Chris Cooley, even though the ref had said that it was on the “man in motion” and Thrash was the only one who was moving on the play.
As if the picture needed to be any more muddled, Joe Gibbs asked who the penalty was on: "That is an absolute mystery to me," Gibbs said. "I asked for an explanation. All he [the referee] said to me was the R-back [running back]. The R-back is Clinton Portis. The R-back didn't move. Don’t know if “R-back” is zebra speak for the running back or if he thinks that’s what an end in motion called in Gibbs’ system.
A few more points before putting this one to rest:
- I pointed this out yesterday, but it’s worth another mention. The flag came out of Spyksma’s pocket very late. It wasn’t out by the time that Portis caught Brunell’s pass. I’ve been told that it came out as late as when Portis began his celebratory takeoff from around the five yard line. I don’t know about that, but certainly it was a very, very late flag for such a call.
- On Harris’ interception on the next play, he had a pretty good grip on Rod Garnder’s jersey at the shoulder pad as the receiver went into his cut. That allowed Harris to get position to step between Gardner and Brunell and make the killer pick.
- All that being said, if you believe that there was some sort of payoff involved or that the line judge is an operative of the Kerry campaign, as I’ve heard some complain, I would suggest that you just stop watching the NFL. Why watch a fixed sport?
- The thing lost in all of the controversy is this basic question: Where has that play been all year? Against a blitz, Portis getting the ball in the open field with a chance to build up some steam is a recipe for success. We should see that one again.
When you’re fighting for a playoff spot, it’s not only about what happens to you. It’s also about what happens to the teams you’re competing against for that playoff spot. And one of the Redskins’ main competitors got some very bad news this morning.
The Giants, who are in the No. 5 spot in the NFC, the first wild card spot, got word today that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has had sports hernia surgery. The recovery time is at least four weeks, probably more like six. The Giants’ season is likely to be over by the time six weeks elapse, barring a playoff run without one of their best defensive players.
Pierre-Paul has helped solidify what was a shaky Giants defense last year. He has seven sacks and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. He has been heating up down the stretch with 5.5 sacks in his last three games.
His loss is a big blow for the Giants. They are a game ahead of the Buccaneers, who hold the No. 6 spot, and a game and a half ahead of the Redskins, who are currently seventh.
The Redskins play New York in Week 17 so the Redskins have to pick up just one game on the Giants over the next three to have a shot at passing them in the season finale.
The chances of that happening looked pretty good with Washington playing playing three teams with losing records in the Eagles, Panthers, and Bears and the Giants going against division leaders Dallas and Detroit in addition to the Eagles. With the Giants now without Pierre-Paul, the Redskins’ probabilities got tilted in their direction a little bit more.
Just finishing ahead of the Giants wouldn’t guarantee a playoff spot but it would come close. It would mean that the Redskins would have at least nine wins and the Redskins’ tie means that two teams would have to get to 10 wins to knock them out of the playoffs. The Bucs have to win three more games to get to nine wins and the Packers and Vikings would have to run the table.
CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.
Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley.
The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.
In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs.
As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.
As the Redskins power run game vanished, so did their prospects for winning the game.
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