Here are some of my observations from the Washington Redskins’ 30-24 overtime win over the Chargers:
1. Pierre Garçon was good and very valuable last year but we didn’t see the acrobatic, jaw-dropping catches he made in Indianapolis. Now, we have. Last week in Denver he made a lunging, one-handed grab of a Robert Griffin III pass. Against the Chargers he turned in some SportsCenter highlight material and the catches came in critical situations. In the third quarter he batted the ball to himself with his right hand while fighting off cornerback Derek Cox set up the Redskins’ game-tying TD and he reached back to grab an off-target Griffin pass late in the fourth quarter that forced the Chargers to burn a timeout. All seven of Garçon’s receptions were good for 13 yards are more and four of them covered over 25 yards. Six of the seven resulted in first downs (counting the overtime reception for 17 yards on first and 20 that had a personal foul penalty tacked on, getting an automatic first down).
2. The “pound the rock” fans certainly got their wishes fulfilled yesterday with Alfred Morris finally getting his quota of carries with 25 and with Darrel Young scoring three touchdowns. Overall, the play selection was 39 runs and 32 passes. They showed excellent balance in their two third-quarter drives that turned a seven-point halftime deficit into one-touchdown lead early in the fourth. The first one had six runs and three passes with Morris getting four carries for 26 yards. Santana Moss picked up 18 on an option pitch and Young scored the TD from a yard out. They got the ball back with 7:02 left in the third and embarked on an 11-play drive that featured six runs and five passes. Again, Young scored from a yard out.
3. It’s hard to say that the Redskins’ defense had a great day when they gave up a 10-point lead in the last seven minutes of the game but there is no shame in holding the Chargers to 17 points (seven came on the batted end zone interception) and holding Philip Rivers to 63 percent completions (he was near 74 percent on the year coming in). And the goal line stand made up for a lot. It started with David Amerson’s hit on Danny Woodhead, which, as replays showed, knocked the runner out of bounds about half a yard short of the goal line. On first down, London Fletcher and Brandon Meriweather got credit for the stop of Woodhead on the dive play but it was Barry Cofield at the bottom of the pile who clogged things up. DeAngelo Hall was matched one on one with Antonio Gates on second down and Hall’s jam at the line kept Gates from getting out on a fade pattern. When Rivers rolled right on third down, Josh Wilson stuck by Eddie Royal and Amerson locked on to Keenan Allen and Rivers had nowhere to go.
4. It’s always something with the Redskins’ special teams. They were solid in kickoff and punt coverage and did nothing to hurt either themselves or the other team returning. But two blocked field goals loomed large as the Chargers rallied in the fourth quarter. The one on a 59-yard attempt is somewhat understandable as kicks from that distance generally come low off of the kicker’s foot. But a blocked 25-yarder is inexcusable. Shanahan indicated that it might be due to a blocking issue in the middle of the line but he should have more details in his 5:30 press conference after reviewing the film.
5. Griffin was far from perfect yesterday but he was very good in an area he has struggled—third downs. One of the issues in his spectacular rookie season was his inability to convert on the money down. That was not the case yesterday. Griffin passed on nine third down plays. He completed eight of those passes for 100 yards and six first downs. Included were two conversions with eight to go, one with 11 yards to go and one with 12 to go.
6. The goal line tackle of Woodhead wasn’t the only big play that Amerson made in the late going. Earlier in the fourth quarter he got around Allen on a dig route and snared Rivers’ pass to give the Redskins the ball near midfield. It was one of those “I can’t believe he just did that” plays. It set up a field goal that gave the Redskins a 10-point lead. It wasn’t all good for the rookie. Allen, who happens to be a lifelong friend of Amerson, beat the cornerback on a double move a few minutes later to pull the Chargers with three and set up the last-minute dramatics. He’ll learn how to handle double moves but you can’t teach the ball hawking instincts that led to that interception.