For the first three games of the season, the Redskins’ special team had not done much special but they also avoided making huge, game-changing mistakes. That changed in the first quarter against the Raiders.
On Sav Rocca’s second punt of the day, Oakland’s Rashad Jennings took advantage of a missed assignment by Perry Riley and rushed in to block the kick. Jeremy Stewart recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
“We have got to get better,” Mike Shanahan said when asked about the performance of the special teams. “We have a lot of people playing different positions that they haven’t played there before, some young guys. You know at the one position we had the blocked punt, we’ve had a new left wing there a couple of weeks in a row – not that that was the missed assignment, but collectively we have got to get better working as a group.”
Another big play by the Raiders special teams came against Washington’s punt return unit. On fourth and inches near their own 30 they lined up in punt formation but, after some shifting, speedy cornerback Taiwan Jones took the snap and scooted around left end for 19 yards and a first down.
Shanahan said that the fake didn’t catch them totally off guard despite the field position. “You work on those things throughout the week,” he said. “You don’t know exactly what direction they’re going to go, but they’ve been known for fakes so we’ve worked on more fakes this week than we probably normally do.”
On that one, Shanahan ultimately tipped his cap to Raiders coach Dennis Allen. “You have got to give them credit for calling it and having the guts to call it backed up in that position,” he said. “I thought it was a good play and they took advantage of it.”
The Raiders could not gain a first down after the play and ended up punting back to the Redskins.