Some initial observations, in no particular order.
- The Washington Redskins went back to the formula that worked early in the year. They battled even through four quarters and then dominated the fourth. Seattle ran all of five plays after they scored to tie the game at 17 with 13:24 left in the fourth quarter. Washington wore down the Seattle defense for 45 minutes and then pounded them in the final 15.
- Ladell Betts had no business fighting for extra yardage there. When it was clear that he was down, he needed to go down. He should buy Shawn Springs a big steak dinner for bailing him out (or buy Hasselbeck one, what was he looking at?)
- Portis made up about 60 yards on Adrian Peterson today, but he still trails the Vikings' back by about 60. No matter, if you define it the way you should, he's the league's MVP. No player is more valuable to his team, period. Backed up at the three, crowd alive, he carries three times for 40 yards. It got quiet in a hurry.
- Santana Moss didn't have a huge day, but he's shaking out of his midseason slump. He had one bomb just get knocked out of his hands, he drew a pass interference flag that converted a third and 20 to set up the Redskins' first score and he set up the Redskins' final score by gaining 24 yards on a bubble screen. The numbers weren't great, four catches for 72 yards, but he was in the middle of a lot of good things for the Redskins.
- The Washington defense was either on or off. They allowed touchdown drives of nine plays (72 yards) and ten plays (62 yards). No other Seattle drive lasted more than five plays and only one, the one that resulted in their first field goal, covered more than 12 yards.
- They got two interceptions for the second week in a row. The two last week stopped promising Cowboy drives and helped keep the Redskins in it until the late going. One this week set up a touchdown and the other ended the game. And all four of them have been by different players.
- Decent offense, strong defense. Special teams? Next question. Suisham short from 43 yards. I thought it must have been wind, but after looking again I saw that the streamers atop the posts were limp. Big kickoff return to start the second half. The defense bailed them out. Plackemeier three punts for a 28.3 gross average.
- Malcolm Kelly got a few shots. He hauled in two for 12 yards; those aren't numbers that make him that elusive other threat, not just yet anyway, but he bears watching.
- Zorn went to the Sellers well once too often in the fourth quarter. He's a beast but he's not a pass catcher or ball carrier. Yes, he has to catch that ball, but that's not what he was built to do.
- The Redskins are in the midst of a four-team chase for the two Wild Card playoff spots. They're ahead of the 7-4 Cowboys based on a better conference record right now, but they won't be if things play out as they should and Dallas beats Seattle on Thanksgiving and the Skins lose to the Giants. Atlanta also is 7-4 and Tampa Bay and Carolina are 8-3. It still seems probable that 10 wins will gain a playoff berth. If they lose to the Giants, the Redskins would have to win three out of four from games at Baltimore, at Cincinnati, at home against the Eagles, and at San Francisco. Of that group, only Baltimore has anything to play for.
In the third quarter of the Redskins’ Week 3 game against the Giants, New York drove to a first and goal at the Washington 10. A Trent Murphy sack and two incompletions later, Josh Brown came in and kicked a field goal.
Since then, opponents have had goal to go situations 12 times. They have scored touchdowns on every one of them.
The stop against the Giants was one of just two all year. They had one against the Cowboys in Week 2. Their opponents’ goal to go success rate is 90.5 percent. That’s the second worst in the NFL.
The failures have been costly. On Sunday, the Cardinals recovered a Kirk Cousins fumble and returned it to the Washington 10. The Redskins led 13-10 at the time and coming out of that situation with the game tied would have been large. But on third and goal at the six Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd with a touchdown pass and the Cardinals had both the lead and the momentum.
Opponents usually haven’t had to work that hard. Teams have run 21 plays in goal to go and they have 10 touchdowns.
On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys got to goal to go three times. A stop on any one of them would have been a boost to the Redskins and would have changed the dynamic of the game. But Dallas was three for three.
The goal to go problems are a subset of the Redskins’ problems with red zone defense in general. Opponents have scored touchdowns on 27 of 40 red zone trips, a 67.5 percent success rate that puts the Redskins 30th in the NFL.
The NFC East was a beast for a while, but in recent weeks, the division is fading. All the teams outside of Dallas lost this weekend, and losing streaks are popping up throughout the I-95 Corridor. Here's the NFC East update:
- The Minnesota Vikings gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle last Thursday night, and yet, the Cowboys won 17-15. Dak Prescott was not impressive in Minneapolis, but Ezekiel Elliott was and the Cowboys defense did just enough to slow the Vikings terrible offense. At 11-1, Dallas has clinched a playoff berth, and with a date in New York this Sunday night, Jerry Jones' crew has a chance to avenge their only loss of the year, which came in Week 1 to the Giants.
- It seemed expectations met reality for the New York Giants last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Ben McAdoo's team had won six games in a row, but largely, faced poor competition. In their first tough test since the leaves started falling, Eli Manning's offense could not get going and the Giants fell to 8-4, still in possession of the first NFC Wild Card spot. Even on their win streak, the Giants didn't pass many eye tests. Beat Dallas on Sunday night and all that changes.
- Two weeks ago the Washington Redskins were one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Winners of two straight and with a surging Kirk Cousins, the Redskins marched to Dallas on Thanksgiving and gave the Cowboys a real test. Despite the loss, Washington still held its spot with the second NFC Wild Card. After a deflating loss in Arizona, now the 'Skins are on the outside looking in of the playoffs. Good news for Jay Gruden and company: The team can get right back in the thick of things this week in Philly, and the remaining four-game schedule looks advantageous.
- While the Redskins have lost two in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoff race, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost three in a row and look to be falling apart. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is devoid of offensive weapons to work with and the Eagles have been outscored 85-42 in their last three games. Philly can get their first NFC East win this week with the 'Skins visiting, but it will take a different effort than they've shown in the last month.
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