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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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The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!