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Turning Point—The Goal Line Stand

Turning Point—The Goal Line Stand

The Washington Redskins scored on a three-play drive to take a 14-3 lead over the Cleveland Browns with 12:28 left to play. Derrick Anderson started to heat up and nine plays and 4:10 later the Browns had a second and 10 at the Washington 19. The Redskins brought the heat but Cleveland had the right play called, a screen to power running back Jamal Lewis. Chris Horton just tripped up Lewis at the one with 8:01 left to play.

What followed was the stuff that legends are made of. The ensuing goal line stands saved the game for the Redskins, even though the Browns ultimately scored. Here is that anatomy of that sequence of plays:

1-1-WAS 1 (7:22) 31-J.Lewis right guard to WAS 1 for no gain (59-L.Fletcher, 64-K.Golston).

It's an I-formation power run and Anderson hands off to Lewis. Fletcher is lined up a few yards deep in the end zone and when he reads the play he comes flying in—literally, as he leapt at the goal line and made contact with Lewis about a yard behind the line of scrimmage. Lewis had no chance to get his momentum going and he easily went down for a loss of about a half a yard.

2-1-WAS 1 (6:41) 3-D.Anderson pass short right to 41-C.Ali to WAS 3 for -2 yards (59-L.Fletcher).

From an I formation again, the Browns put Joshua Cribbs in motion from right to left. LaRon Landry follows cribs and there is nobody on the right side of the line. Charles Ali tries to sneak out onto the right side after a play action fake. Fletcher, lined up about five yards deep in the end zone, immediately recognized the play and shot to Ali, bringing down the stunned fullback with a great open-field tackle.

3-3-WAS 3 (5:58) (Shotgun) 3-D.Anderson pass incomplete short right to 29-J.Wright (55-J.Taylor).

From shotgun, Anderson again tries to dump one off to a back. This time Braylon Edwards is split out to the right and at the snap he runs a slant in an attempt to clear out the right side. But Fletcher is having none of it and neither is Carlos Rogers, who stays in his zone a few yards deep in the end zone. As Anderson's pass floats towards Jason Wright, Rogers comes up from behind and Fletcher flies in from the inside. Wright has no chance.

4-3-WAS 3 (5:53) (Shotgun) 3-D.Anderson pass incomplete short middle to 17-B.Edwards (92-D.Evans).

By now, more than six and a half minutes have come off the clock since the Browns started their drive and a little over two minutes have ticked off since the Browns got a first and goal at the one. Edwards runs a short post to the back of the end zone and it looked like an accurate pass with plenty of mustard on it might have resulted in a touchdown. But Demetric Evans, who was a bit slow getting off the ball, engaged the guard, and timed his leap perfectly to knock Anderson's pass to the ground.

Should Romeo Crennel have kicked a field goal to make it a one-score game, as Solomon Wilcots and Ian Eagle said during the telecast and others have said since? It's a cogent argument but I think Crennel made the right call. They hadn't been that close all day and he didn't know if they would get that close again. I think that you go for the TD when you're close since you can get the three from much further away.

1-10-WAS 3 (5:47) 26-C.Portis right end to WAS 27 for 24 yards (24-E.Wright). FUMBLES (24-E.Wright), RECOVERED by CLE-21-B.Pool at WAS 29. 21-B.Pool pushed ob at WAS 29 for no gain (82-A.Randle El). Washington challenged the loose ball recovery ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #2 at 05:36.)

Portis said that he "lost focus" on ball protection, thinking that he might be able to break it all the way. AS Portis' arms were churning, Eric Wright knocked the ball out and Cleveland's Pool finally got the handle on the ball just before Antwaan Randle El knocked him out of bounds. Anderson passes to Edwards and Kellen Winslow got the Browns down to the one again. Rocky McIntosh made a good hit to blunt Winslow's momentum as the tight end appeared to be lunging into the end zone. It was second and goal with 4:49 to go.

2-1-WAS 1 (4:15) 31-J.Lewis up the middle to WAS 1 for no gain (64-K.Golston, 52-R.McIntosh).

By the time the ball is snapped, more than eight minutes has gone by since the Browns started their original drive after the Redskins had made it 14-3 and almost four minutes had gone by since the initial first and goal at the one. Kedric Golston shoots the gap and pulls back Lewis as the back was trying to find some room to operate after the Redskins had moved the line of scrimmage back a half a yard with a strong charge.

3-1-WAS 1 (3:34) 31-J.Lewis left end to WAS 1 for no gain (54-H.Blades, 22-C.Rogers).

A pitch to Lewis, a play that was effective on a few occasions during the game, has no chance. Rogers immediately recognizes it—I'm not sure why Edwards, on whom Rogers was lined up tight, didn't try to blog him—and charges up to trip up Lewis. Lewis may have been able to stumble in after that but Blades finishes off the play.

4-1-WAS 1 (2:49) 3-D.Anderson pass short middle to 16-J.Cribbs for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN.

From the power I formation, the Browns weren't about to test the run defense again. Cribbs was lined up as a wing on the left side and he took a couple of steps to the inside just before the snap. He went behind the line of scrimmage and was wide open with McIntosh trailing by a few steps. Anders got some heat from Evans but with so much room his toss easily found its way into Cribbs' hands.

The touchdown was scored with 2:44 left to play. That was about 10 minutes after the first drive started and more than five minutes after the original first and goal. The time that it took the Browns to score was a critical element that allowed the Redskins to hang on for the win.

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QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

Quarterbacks will come off the board in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. That much is certain. Where those quarterbacks come off the board, however, matters much more for the Redskins. 

Mitchell Trubisky will be the first passer off the board, and depending on the information, he could be drafted as high as the first overall pick, and will certainly go early.

Trubisky, though, seems like the only certainty of a QB going early. Questions plague guys like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Those guys could all go in the first half of the draft, but they could all slide into the 20s as well. 

For Washington, the earlier quarterbacks get drafted the better. It seems highly unlikely the Redskins make a draft day trade of QB Kirk Cousins, limiting hardly any interest in a first-round passer.

The more passers that go before the 'Skins pick at 17 means the more high-quality players slide down the draft board. Look around the internet at lists of the best prospects available. Hardly any signal callers crack the Top 20, but the positional need at QB demands the position be overdrafted.

Though the Burgundy and Gold continue to slow-play contract talks with Cousins, he is under contract for 2017 and the team holds an option for 2018. That means Bruce Allen can sit in his draft room and potentially be a trade partner for a team that wants to land a QB, or just wait patiently and watch as they come off the board and send other desirable prospects closer to 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 25, one day before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 16
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 28
—Training camp starts (7/27) 92
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 137

Wrapping up the Redskins pre-draft presser

We’ve looked at a some of what Redskins college scouting director Scott Campbell said during his pre-draft press conference on Monday, covering possible trades, who makes the final call on those trades, and how the organization handles character issues. Here are a few more bullet points from Campbell’s presser:

—Asked if the Redskins would draft to fill needs or take the best available player, Campbell gave the stock answer. “I guess as you asked the question, you kind of framed it and the way I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.” So, there you go. That said, don’t be surprised if the best players as defined by the Redskins in the first few also happen have the “bonus” of filling one the team’s top two or three needs.

—The needs could line up well because the strength of the draft as Campbell sees it coincides with side of the ball where the Redskins need the most help. “Well, I’m excited because I think it’s one of the strongest, deepest classes on the defensive side of the ball that I’ve seen,” he said. “I’ve told the guys upstairs I’m excited because we’re going to get better . . . And several different positions – sometimes it’s just maybe defensive line or outside backers or corners. Across the board on defense, I’m really excited about the class and the guys we’re going to bring in are going to help us.”

—The draft board is still used after the draft ends and the scramble for undrafted free agents starts up. “There’s going to be guys left on the bottom of that board that didn’t get drafted that we had rated as draftable,” said Campbell. “So that’s our No. 1 targets. I assign a scout to all the coaches, and really the coaches talk to the players – once the draft ends, let me be clear, it’s after the draft ends when we start making calls – the scouts are on the phone with the agent finding out what our competition is, how much.” Campbell said that money isn’t much of a factor in recruiting the undrafted players; selling opportunity is the key.

—The draft board was influenced by former GM Scot McCloughan but adjustments have been made since he was fired in early March. “Well, he certainly had influence on it because we all met as we always did the last couple of years and every team does. You meet right after the all-star games before you go to the combine and kind of get an initial ranking of how you like the guys. Of course Scot hadn’t been here since, so just like when he was here before, there’s adjustments being made to the board with the new information.”

—The 2016 draft class did not contribute a lot but does not mean that there is more pressure on the organization to do better this year. The pressure is always there regardless. “Always pressure. Every year’s pressure,” said Campbell. “I grew up in an NFL household. My dad was a coach and a player for 40 years. Pressure every year to perform, that’s what the NFL is. You’ve got to perform every year.” His father was Marion Campbell who played in the NFL for eight years and then coached for 21 seasons including stints as the head coach of the Eagles and Falcons.

—Campbell also asked for a little patience with the 2016 draft class, citing a group from a few years ago. “It takes a couple of years to develop a class,” said Campbell. “People are saying the ‘14 class had some success. Well, if I read articles and see what happened and what was said right after that draft, our grades in the mock drafts were not very good. It takes time. Morgan Moses didn’t start his first year, you know, but he’s come on to be one of the best right tackles in the league. That’s my opinion anyway. It takes time to develop. I still think with time, that class [2016] will be just fine.” I guess I buried the lede here—Campbell reads draft grades.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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