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Picking Up the Torch


Writes THN member welch, our local history buff:

“Just have to come back to the only online Redskins home to smile some more.

One game is not a season, as we all said last week, but it sure helps when that game is a win!.

Hail to the Redskins. Remember Gene Brito every time a DE makes a play. I wish Sammy Baugh was in good health, but at least Sonny saw the pass to Moss.

Slingin Sammy, The Little General, Sonny, Billy, Joe T, Doug, the Rypper: I hope we’ve seen the torch picked up.

Flaherty, Lombardi, Old George, Jack, Joe: one game, yes, but maybe, just maybe we’ve seen another torch picked up.

Trying to tone down my enthusiasm, but this is way different than a win by Spurrier. That offense was not fit for the NFL. Richie Petibon, our great defensive coordinator, stopped every Spurrier-like offense in 1991: call it Red Gun, Silver Streak, Run & Shot, Floopdie Whoop or Mouse Davis’s Genius plan, but Petibon and the Redskins proved that it wouldn’t work.

Before the NFC championship game, reporters asked Petibon, “Coach, the Lions scored 45 points on the Cowboys last week. How can you possibly stop them?”

Petibon just said, “Oh, I don’t know, but we probably won’t try what the Cowboys did”. Just for the pleasure of remembering, and explaining to those too young to remember the Gibbs teams, Sir Charles Mann sprinted through the Lion’s right tackle, waved at Barry Sanders, and knocked QB Erik Kramer a few feet in the air…and knocked the ball about five yards away. Redskins recovered, scored on the next play, and the game was over.

Fun to remember.

That’s why we knew that Spurrier’s coaching in the NFL would be no more effective than Spurrier’s quarterbacking. (As Casey Stengel said, you can look it up.)

At the very least, thngs look better with a win than with two losses.

What happened to that “NFL executive” who told the Post that Campbell could only play QB for a Coryell/Gibbs/Saunders offense?”

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Malcolm Kelly progressing


Malcolm Kelly, who came out of college with some injury concerns and came into Redskins training camp out of shape, appears to be working his way out of a slow start. Jason La Canfora reports on the Insider blog:

Zorn expressed excitement about the return of rookie wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, who practiced today.

“Good!” Zorn said. “I’ve got great news today. All this rest, and just the specific work he’s been doing in the training room, all the rehab, has really been helping him, bringing him along.

“We’re excited about it. As we work, we’ll get him involved. There’s no way, I don’t think anybody can play both offense, defense and even special teams unless they participate.”

Kelly, who had arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 4, sat out the preseason because of hamstring and knee problems, so “he needs the work,” Zorn said. “Other guys can get away with just partial practice time, the veterans, but a young player like Malcolm has to be there day in and day out. If he’s 100 percent, or even if he’s close to 100 percent, he’ll get practice reps.”

This is good news for any Redskins fans who noticed that the ‘Skins sent James Thrash down the sidelines as the go-to man at the end of the Giants game. (Really, not even Santana Moss?) Now, I have nothing against James Thrash—in fact, he’s one of my favorite Redskins. But just because I like Rocky McIntosh doesn’t mean I want him on the receiving end of a Hail Mary. If we are in serious need of a downfield play, it’d be nice to have a downfield threat to go with it.

I don’t know whether the fault lies with Jason Campbell’s field-vision or with our receievers’ route-running, but somehow our passing game isn’t showing many signs of life. I was optimistic in April that our youth infusion (Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, Fred Davis) would open up our passing playbook beyond WR screens to Moss and QB roll-out passes to Cooley in the flat. I still think there are some exciting possibilities there.

Yet, so far, Devin Thomas is the only player to see action. Kelly’s been out with the knee; Fred Davis was inactive for the Giants game. Our needs are as apparent as ever, so here’s hoping that our young players continue to work their way out of an early bad reputation of being out of shape, sleeping in, and injuries. We need them to.

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The Fifth Quarter: Seattle Seahawks


The Washington Redskins, who were on their greatest winning streak since the six-game 2005 run that put them in Seattle for a divisional playoff game against the Seahawks, fell flat in the final minutes of Saturday’s wild card game. It ended a season of tremendous tragedy and accomplishment.

On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:

Passing Offense:

Todd Collins continued to play the wily veteran, leading a well-managed passing attack that kept the Redskins’ yard-marker chains moving. Although the team managed to overcome a thirteen-point deficit and lead by a single point early in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks would blow the game open in the final minutes of the fourth quarter off of two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Aside from the chaotic final minutes, which were the result of panic, Collins had a solid performance, recording 29 completions for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns in addition to his interceptions.

Dropped passes, which have plagued Washington at times this year, became a significant problem during the first half. Three of the drops came on third-down attempts, killing the drive and forcing the Redskins to punt.

Of all receivers, Antwaan Randle El had the best day, with ten catches for 94 yards and a touchdown. Santana Moss recovered from his slow start to contribute 68 yards on six catches and the Redskins’ other touchdown, although a misunderstanding between him and Collins caused the first of two interceptions that were returned for six points. Chris Cooley and Clinton Portis had average days but both dropped at least one pass.

3 Quarters

Rushing Offense:

Punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt. Those are the results of the Redskins’ first six drives — and very rarely are victories built on such foundations. Instead, Washington fell behind early in the game, practically ensuring that Clinton Portis’ workload would decrease as time passed. He finished the day with 52 yards gained on 20 carries. Mike Sellers had only four yards on three carries, but more importantly he failed to convert on a fourth-and-one late in the first half that might have given the Redskins some points going into the locker room. Instead, the Redskins had to rely heavily on their passing attack in the third and fourth quarters.

This was likely the last time that Washington will see Chris Samuels, Pete Kendall, Casey Rabach, Jason Fabini, and Stephon Heyer as its five starters on the offensive line. The rag-tag, bench-player line played hard but ultimately couldn’t get a good push against the Seahawks’ powerful front seven.

2 Quarters

Defense:

LaRon Landry takes the ‘player of the game’ award for the Redskins’ defense. In fact, he looked a lot like Washington’s previous starting free safety in his ability to cover everything beyond fifteen yards: twice he raced across the field to intercept a Matt Hasselbeck pass. Strong safety Reed Doughty dominated the box and had five tackles in addition to several break-ups on pass attempts. Fred Smoot played a tremendous game as well, ending the day with five solo tackles. Shawn Springs was picked on by Hasselbeck and did get turned around a few times; however, he ended the game with eight solo tackles and broke apart more than one passing play.

Unfortunately, the front seven did far less to impact the game. Although rushing attempts were generally swallowed up by the linemen, neither linemen nor the linebackers were able to generate significant pressure on Hasselbeck. As a result, he had time to set up and make his throws, which, in combination with the west-coast style of wide receiver routes and timing, proved fatal.

3 Quarters

Special Teams:
Once again, Rock Cartwright gave a great performance on returns. His two best returns suffered from (questionable) penalties called on the same plays, but he still ended the day with nearly 30 yards on average per return, with a long return of 55 yards. Washington’s coverage on kickoffs and punts was adequate, considering the Seahawks’ strength in that phase of the game. Nate Burleson had only eighteen yards on kickoff returns and botched one kick that was recovered by the Redskins’ late-season acquisition Anthony Mix.

The kicking game suffered to a large degree on Saturday, as Shaun Suisham had a deflating miss on his only field goal attempt, which was from 30 yards out. Derrick Frost played a little better, sending two punts inside of the 20-yard line and kicking one for 53 yards, but he also had several short, line-drive kicks and ended with only a 33-yard average.

2 Quarters

Thus ends a 2007 campaign that became, for this team, far more than football games. This year, of course, will always be remembered for the tragic death of Sean Taylor. With the way the team responded to it, though, there is much to be proud of, even as we still reel in pain from losing Sean Taylor: father, son, teammate, and friend. We will miss you, Sean.

Hail to the Redskins.

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Daniel Coleman

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The Fifth Quarter: Buffalo Bills


On many levels it was difficult to watch the Washington Redskins play host to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Aside from the obvious heartache that still surrounds the team after losing Sean Taylor earlier in the week, we had to endure a familiar pattern that has haunted the Redskins all year: play tough and get ahead, miss touchdown opportunities and settle for field goals, allow the other team enough breathing room to make a comeback, and the inevitable letdown at the end of a rough day.

On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:

Passing Offense:

For the second week in a row, the passing offense was the offense for the Redskins, and yet they consistently stalled whenever they got near the end-zone. As a result, the Redskins had plenty of long, sustained drives with scoring chances, only to come up short on almost every occasion.

Jason Campbell came hot out of the gates but cooled off as the game progressed — in part perhaps because of the pounding he received from the Buffalo defense. He finished the day with 21 completions for 216 yards and an interception. The interception and his fumble were Campbell’s twelfth and thirteenth turnovers in just six games.

Pass protection was at its worst in weeks, as Buffalo found creative ways to disguise blitzes and overwhelm the Redskins’ protection scheme. Not only did they end the day with three sacks and numerous hits and hurries, but they also recorded a safety, and an interception and forced fumble that led to Bills’ field goals. Those eight points, which came as near-gifts from the Redskins’ passing offense, proved crucial in a game with such low scoring.

2 Quarters

Rushing Offense:

The team’s generally poor running performance was mitigated by a few high profile plays, including the Redskins’ sole touchdown and a crucial first down with under four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, guaranteeing that Buffalo would burn their timeouts giving their offense little room for error on their last drive. As nice as it was to see the Redskins perform in the clutch, the truth is that the rushing offense has ground to a halt over the past few games. Clinton Portis ended the day with a two yards-per-carry average (with 50 yards on 25 attempts), only four first downs, and a long rush of only six yards. Does this sound like the kind of running game that could propel a team into the playoffs?

Campbell had one nice scramble but was otherwise caught from behind early into his runs (he had four), and he was slow to get up after several rushing attempts. Santana Moss took a reverse and burned upfield with it for eleven yards and a first down early in the first quarter. Although Ladell Betts fielded a pass, he was not to be seen in the running game, which may have been a mistake.

1 Quarter

Defense:

As has been the case often this season, the defense fought very hard to keep Washington in competition.

Buffalo did not sustain a single drive for five minutes or for more than nine plays. (Contrast that to the Redskins, who had four drives sustained for more than nine plays and three for more than five minutes) Since eight points came from the Bills’ safety and two turnovers that placed the Bills within field goal range, only nine of Buffalo’s points were hard-earned on the Redskins’ defense.

Fred Smoot had a monster game, with nine total tackles and several break-ups on passing plays. LaRon Landry has stepped up his performance and was in on many plays, recording eight tackles on the day. Reed Doughty, who will fill in for Sean Taylor for the remainder of this season, performed well but was by no means dominant.

In the end, the complete lack of a pass rush killed the defense — not a single player managed a sack, and there were scant few hurries or hits on the quarterback. The only other critique that one could level against the defense was that they couldn’t stop Buffalo on their last-minute drive in the fourth quarter — even though Buffalo had no time outs.

3 Quarters

Special Teams:

Shaun Suisham went perfect on field goals yet again this year, although they were all near-chip shots, with two kicks under 30 yards and the third from only 33 yards. It’s probably just as well that the attempts were short, though, as Suisham’s lengths on kickoffs were probably at a season-low. Not a single kick went beyond Buffalo’s 15-yard line, and only one kick reached the 30.

Derrick Frost’s performance was fine, and the punt and kickoff coverage contained the Bills adequately. Rock Cartwright was. . .well. . .Rock.

3 Quarters

The good news for the offense is that Randy Thomas is due to return in the very near future. His play could spark the offense — and especially the running offense — and help the Redskins do something with the ball once they are in the red zone.

This past week has been incredibly difficult, and it’s impressive that the Redskins were able to pull together for today’s game, as hard as it was to watch them lose it in the final seconds. With Sean Taylor’s funeral on Monday, they will have little time to recover as Chicago comes to Washington in only four days.

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Daniel Coleman

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The Fifth Quarter: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Yesterday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been put in perspective by the tragic shooting that took place at Sean Taylor’s home early Monday morning. On behalf of the staff and the community here at TheHogs.net, our thoughts and prayers are with Sean Taylor and his family. We of course hope that, first and foremost, Sean fights through this and makes a recovery for the sake of his health and for his family. Stay strong, Sean.

On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:

Passing Offense:

The passing offense was ultimately responsible for four of Washington’s six turnovers, as Santana Moss fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Jason Campbell also fumbled once in addition to his two interceptions.

Washington also had moments of brilliance, however, especially as the Redskins battled from behind in the second half. Chris Cooley led the team in receptions, catching six balls for 96 yards and a 39-yard touchdown. Keenan McCardell had another solid week with six receptions for 60 yards. Five of Washington’s receivers grabbed at least five receptions.

Despite 300 yards and 16 first downs, however, the passing offense failed when it mattered the most. In three trips to the red zone, Washington managed a goose egg in scoring. Campbell also faced his third opportunity in as many weeks to lead the Redskins to a last minute, come from behind victory. Unfortunately, he made a couple of bad decisions that resulted in interceptions, leaving the Redskins without a win.

2 Quarters

Rushing Offense:

Clinton Portis had the most noticeable gaffs early in the game when he turned the ball over twice on fumbles. Although he recovered to have a decent performance, especially in the second half, his early mistakes put the Redskins behind and forced the Redskins to switch to a pass-heavy offense.

Betts came on strong in the second half, carrying the ball only eight times but netting 47 yards, including one rush for sixteen. The run blocking certainly suffered in this game against a good — and fast — Tampa defense, but then again Washington is missing three offensive linemen and had a rookie third-string tackle start the game.

One high point was that the rushing offense helped keep the clock moving during the second half, keeping the offense on the field and the defense off of it. Despite losing the time-of-possession battle by a 2:1 ratio in the first half, the Redskins finished the game winning that stat by a 10-minute margin.

2 Quarters

Defense:

The defense, missing its best player in Sean Taylor, gave an enthused performance on Sunday — quite possibly the best of this season. In the second half, Tampa Bay managed 15 yards of offense and zero first downs. They were forced to punt seven times. Despite being handed the ball inside of the Redskins 30-yard line on four occasions, Tampa managed only sixteen points from the turnovers and nineteen points total. Washington was so dominant on defense that the Buccaneers were only able to run 13 plays in the second half. LaRon Landry led the team with six tackles.

The only element that would have made the Redskins’ performance more complete would have been a turnover, perhaps, but let’s face it: this was a near-perfect game for the defense. It is a shame that the offense could not capitalize and steal this one from the Buccaneers.

5 Quarters

Special Teams:

Washington’s special teams performance was innocuous, but it didn’t hurt the team and even set up the offense with a chance to win late in the game. Shaun Suisham was perfect on field goals, hitting kicks from 43 and 38 yards, ensuring that a late Washington touchdown would have won the game.

Credit goes to Tampa Bay’s punter, Josh Bidwell, who boomed seven kicks for a 42-yard average, including three inside of the 20-yard line, and made Washington’s second-half drives much longer than they probably should have been. Repeatedly, Tampa Bay had to punt from deep in their own territory, and Bidwell responded with such long kicks that the Redskins saw little benefit in the field position battle.

Bidwell’s contribution was as significant as Tampa’s interceptions. Unfortunately, with Antwaan Randle El out of the game, the Redskins’ punt return unit could do little to retaliate. The punt coverage team also failed to cover up a Tampa Bay fumble that would have put Washington’s offense in scoring range.

2 Quarters

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Daniel Coleman

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The Fifth Quarter: Dallas Cowboys I


Simply put, there is nothing worse than losing to the Dallas Cowboys.

Yet, this week, it is hard not to have quite a bit of pride over how the Washington Redskins performed. This loss, even though it was to Dallas and even though it is still a loss, sits better than perhaps two or three of the wins Washington has had this year. Even with a banged-up offensive line, even with a depleted receiving core, and even with an ailing secondary, we saw Jason Campbell looking sharp and an offense that is really beginning to click.

On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:

Passing Offense:

What a remarkable performance from a unit that has struggled for the majority of the season. Santana Moss looked like his 2005 self again; Chris Cooley made some great catches in traffic; Keenan McCardell made us all ponder what it would have been like had he been a Redskin over the last sixteen years; Randle El was … well, Randle El. The four receivers just mentioned each had more than 50 yards in receptions, and Moss lead the way with 121 yards and a touchdown.

Jason Campbell had a career day, moving the offense with his arm and nearly constructing a last-minute comeback victory. In his young career, Campbell had never thrown more than 38 attempts in a single game—he had 54 on Sunday. With 348 yards in the air, Campbell bested his previous career performance by exactly 100 yards.

Pass protection was about average for this year’s devastated offensive line. (And, on that note, Stephon Heyer had to come in for an ailing Todd Wade.) Chris Samuels had a tough time containing DeMarcus Ware, who registered one sack with a forced fumble and put consistent pressure on the quarterback all afternoon. The Cowboys didn’t blitz excessively, but the protection schemes handled it well whenever they did.

The passing offense’s only moment of weakness came at an unfortunate time, with Jason Campbell making an ill-advised pass that was intercepted on the ten-yard line with a little less than two minutes left in the game.

4 Quarters

Rushing Offense:

Rushing offense? Today’s game centered on passing, even when the Redskins weren’t behind. What few carries Clinton Portis did get (twelve) were uneventful, as he averaged three yards and had a long run of six. In fact, the rushing game contributed very little to the production of the offense as a whole. Only four first downs came on running plays, and three of those happened before the 12-minute mark in the second quarter.

Betts has seen less time each week and appears to come in only when Portis needs a breather, not as a viable piece of a two-back threat.

1 Quarter

Defense:

Sean Taylor was missed badly on Sunday. Before he exited the game a week ago against the Philadelphia Eagles, no team that the Redskins had faced had completed a deep pass down the middle. Terrell Owens found a niche between the cornerbacks and safeties, gouging the Redskins for an astounding 173 yards and four touchdowns. The connection between Tony Romo and Terrell Owens is what killed the Skins, as they kept every other receiver to modest gains and stuffed the Cowboys’ rushing attack.

Marcus Washington looked energized, having finally put his hamstring injury behind him, and ended the game with six tackles (all solo). London Fletcher made his presence known in between the tackles, registering seven tackles and helping keep the Cowboys to only 72 rushing yards on the day. Fletcher also had an interception; and Rocky McIntosh had his first interception as a pro that was, rather unjustly, ruled an incomplete pass upon review.

Once again, the front-four defensive linemen couldn’t generate pressure. Blitzes, as well as bringing Marcus Washington into a defensive end position, helped to hurry Romo on several occasions, but it resulted in only one sack.

Of course, the defensive performance needs to be kept in perspective. Dallas had the number one offense in the NFC coming into this game, and this unit — even without their best player — really helped to keep the Redskins in it until the very end.

3 Quarters

Special Teams:

Shaun Suisham missed a 50-yard field goal but hit three others, including one from 45 yards out, and his kickoffs were deeper than they have been for weeks. Dallas’ kick returner, Miles Austin, ran very well and managed to run back for 28, 25, and 22 yards. Rock Cartwright put in another solid week, with returns of 36, 29, 28, 27, and 25 yards. The man is a beast.

Derrick Frost saw only two punting opportunities, but he made good use of them: kicking one for 49 yards, after which the team benefited from a block in the back penalty, and using the other to pin Dallas on their own ten-yard line.

4 Quarters

Sunday was an extremely well-fought battle, with about as honorable a loss as is possible when it comes to a division rivalry. Dallas kept us from stealing this one, but fortunately the Washington Redskins will face them in the last game of the season this year, and perhaps with a playoff spot hanging in the balance.

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Daniel Coleman

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The Fifth Quarter: Philadelphia Eagles II


The Washington Redskins managed to steal one from the Philadelphia Eagles in week two of this season, and unfortunately for Redskin fans, the Eagles returned the favor this past Sunday. What’s worse than losing? Losing when you control the majority of the game; and sadly, three out of the Redskins’ four losses this year have conformed to that mold.

On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:

Passing Offense:

Washington entered Sunday’s matchup in contention for the “Most Cited Statistic by NFL Analysts” award, as Jason Campbell had yet to complete a touchdown pass to a wide receiver. James Thrash helped break the ice, catching two, and the passing offense received the spark that they had been waiting for most of this season.

Thrash led the way with five catches for 85 yards and his two touchdowns. He was followed by Antwaan Randle El, who recorded five receptions for 44 yards. The offensive line gave Campbell time for the most part, and Campbell’s passes were generally crisp and on target. Campbell finished the day with three touchdown passes and no interceptions, improving his season TD-INT ratio to 9-7.

Even though the passing offense had a break-out performance, they also contributed to some of the Redskins’ key mistakes on Sunday. Chris Cooley committed a costly false start penalty on a play that would surely have been a touchdown pass to a wide-open Thrash, which may very well have put the game away. Campbell also fumbled late in the game, killing one drive and sapping whatever momentum the Redskins had left at that point.

On the whole, it was a nice change of pace to see Campbell drop back and have the passing offense produce. Campbell’s performance, outside of the fourth quarter, was sharp. Washington needed Jason Campbell and the wide receivers to stay productive late in the game, but unfortunately, they were unable to perform.

3 Quarters

Rushing Offense:

Clinton Portis came into Sunday’s game wanting to prove that last week’s 196-yard performance was no fluke. He has shown great improvement in the last two weeks from his early struggles, and for the second week in a row Portis was able to slice through the Eagles’ front seven on numerous occasions and register big plays. He finished the day with 30 carries for 137 yards,

Ladell Betts, who really hasn’t seen consistent carries this year – even as a relief back – had his worst game of the season by far, fumbling the ball on his only carry.

The only weakness that the rushing offense showed came as the Redskins edged closer and closer to the goal line. As the Eagles’ defense tightened up and the Redskins were forced to muscle their way forward, the line wasn’t able to get much movement going, and Portis was stuffed. Better execution – or, perhaps, a few more starters on the line – would have sealed the game.

3 Quarters

Defense:

Aside from the Patriot’s blowout performance, Sunday’s game was the worst outing of the year for the defense. Although they stuffed the Eagles on numerous drives and forced two turnovers, they benefited greatly from Donovan McNabb’s inaccurate throws and allowed too many big gains late in the game.

Donovan McNabb threw for four touchdowns (with one give-away touchdown designed to get the ball back to the Redskins’ offense). Westbrook gained 100 yards on only 20 carries, and McNabb scrambled for 37 yards on seven attempts. Brian Westbrook also had a nearly identical performance to James Thrash in receiving, netting 83 yards on five receptions, including a 57-yard scamper that caught the secondary by surprise.

It is clear that the injuries to key players are creating cracks in what was an outstanding unit earlier in the year. With Carlos Rogers out, an ailing Fred Smoot had to stick out the game – or, at least, for as long as he was able. Marcus Washington, with his nagging hamstring injury, had to sit out. Sean Taylor had to leave the game with what looks to be a mild knee injury, but it was no coincidence that the Eagles threw a deep pass down the middle for a touchdown after he had left the game. It was the first time this season that any team has completed such a pass against this defense. Cornelius Griffin also continues to see limited action. The Redskins will need at least one or two of these players healthy down the stretch if they are going to help keep a struggling offense in the game.

2 Quarters

Special Teams:

Shaun Suisham had a look of disgust after he missed an extra point attempt following the Redskins’ touchdown on their opening drive. Such a small miscue in the first quarter had a ripple of increasing effects throughout the game, as the Redskins attempted a two-point conversion on their next drive—and failed—and settled for a field goal later, notching 15 points on the scoreboard. The Eagles attempted two two-point conversions, failing on both and erasing the deficit that was created by the Redskins’ own failed point-after attempts.

Suisham’s kickoffs were again on the shorter side, sending only two of six inside of the Eagles’ ten-yard line—with both falling at the Eagles’ seven. The coverage units were solid again, however, and the Eagles rarely started with good field position. Derrick Frost had a relatively quiet day, with only two punts averaging 40 yards. Rock Cartwright consistently put the Skins past their own 30 for starting field position.

2 Quarters

This was the Redskins’ second late-game collapse against a division rival out of their three divisional games so far this year. These are the most painful games to watch slip away, but fortunately the underdog Redskins have a chance to steal one from Dallas in six days.

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Daniel Coleman

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The Fifth Quarter: New England Patriots


There isn’t much to say after witnessing a game like this one. This loss, according to the scoreboard, ranks among the Washington Redskins’ worst 5 games in history. Certainly there have been other games that were more painful, but this certainly was a display of dominance by a New England Patriots team that is very much on fire.

On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:

Passing Offense:

On paper, Clinton Portis was the team leader in receptions, but 33 of his 54 receiving yards came on the garbage plays that ended the first half. Antwaan Randle El had the most impressive day in the receiving core again, netting 43 yards on three receptions. He also attempted a pass on an end-around option, but overthrew his receiver by a good five yards.

Yesterday was a learning experience for Jason Campbell in two ways. First, he struggled more than he ever has as a starter for the Redskins, costing the team four turnovers (three fumbles and an interception) including two that just about handed fourteen points to the Patriots on a silver platter. Near the end of the game, he put together a decent drive that hopefully preserved some pride and confidence, but for most of the game he appeared hapless when going back to pass. Sunday was also a learning experience for Campbell insofar as he was able to watch from the sidelines as Tom Brady conducted a near-perfect offense.

Without discussing the Patriots’ performance too much, the short story is that this New England offense did everything the way the Washington Redskins can only hope to. There is still time this year for the Redskins to experience “the spark” on offense, but this week they fell flat on their faces once more.

1 Quarter

Rushing Offense:

Clinton Portis, who took it easy in the off-season, is looking less and less like the stud running back that the Washington Redskins had hoped they would see again in 2007. He averaged less than 2.5 yards each time he touched the ball, and it wasn’t just that he did not have much of an offensive line to run behind. Several Patriots managed to contain Portis with arm tackles, and he was never able to break any runs to the outside. Much of the impotence of the Redskins’ rushing game does fall on the shoulders of the banged-up offensive line, but Portis certainly has not made things any better through his efforts.

Washington’s rushing attack only accounted for 3 first downs, with Portis and Campbell tied for the longest run from scrimmage (seven yards). Of course, since the Redskins were down by fourteen points in the middle of the second quarter — from which they never recovered — they abandoned the run game early in favor of passing to catch up. With the way that Portis (and the line) have been playing lately though, the Redskins were no worse off for having left the rushing attack behind.

1 Quarter

Defense:

Pick whatever stat you would like and the Patriots dominated the Redskins’ defense in that area of the game. The Redskins were able to stop only two drives by the Patriots, with the rest – eight of them – ending in scores. Only one punt came while the Patriots’ starters were still in the game. New England’s top 4 rushers got 146 yards on 25 attempts for a 5.8 yards per carry average. Overall, the Patriots ran 76 plays for 486 net yards on offense and held the ball for nearly 40 minutes — or two thirds of the game. Before the “garbage” time, they were averaging about 8 yards per play.

The Redskins have dominated every offense they have encountered, but every aspect of the Patriots’ offense was firing at full power. Sean Taylor has been keeping all deep passes out of the picture, so New England focused largely on swing passes to running backs in the flat and short crosses to their slot receivers. Runs couldn’t be stopped, and when all else failed, the quarterbacks would tuck the ball in and scramble for the first down — or even a touchdown, as happened on two occasions. No matter where the Patriots went with the ball, they beat a Redskins’ defender and made plays happen.

1 Quarter

Special Teams:

Ladell Betts could probably come away with the Redskins’ player of the game award after filling in nicely for Rock Cartwright on kickoff returns, taking five kicks for an average of 21 yards. However, his best return of over 30 yards was negated by a penalty.

Derrick Frost continues to struggle with some short kicks, although he enjoyed friendly bounces on more than one occasion. He kicked the ball five times for a disappointing 37-yard average.

2 Quarters

My advice to the coaching staff is to burn these game tapes and move on. The Redskins sit at 4–3 with some very tough divisional matches in the near future. A win against the Jets in New York City next week will set the tone for the second half of the season. All is not lost, and the playoffs are still a real possibility.

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Daniel Coleman

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The Fifth Quarter: Arizona Cardinals


Sunday’s matchup between the Washington Redskins and the Arizona Cardinals may prove to be the ugliest win of the season for the Redskins. One should never speak too soon, however, as there are ten games left with plenty of potentially-tense finishes to go.

On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:

Passing Offense:

Nothing on offense has been going the Redskins’ way in the past few games. Most notable has been the injuries that have swept through the offensive line like a wrecking ball. With the left side of the line manned by backups from center to tackle, the impact to offensive performance was inevitable. Although the Cardinals only recorded one sack, Jason Campbell was hurried and hit throughout the afternoon, and never seemed to be able to take a long drop-back and get a look at deep routes without feeling pressured.

Antwaan Randle El once again served as Campbell’s primary target, grabbing three passes for 54 yards and two first downs. His work accounted for more than half of the 95 yards gained through the air. Santana Moss, who last week suffered a career low performance against Green Bay, was given a couple of screen passes, with which he scraped out nine yards. Chris Cooley dropped a sure first down catch and was only thrown to one other time.

Clinton Portis was the second ranking receiver in yardage, picking up fourteen yards on two completions. He also continued to provide solid protection for Campbell, on one occasion taking down a blitzing linebacker who had squirted through the line nearly untouched, allowing Campbell to get the ball off.

Near the end of the first half, one of Campbell’s passes was batted at the line of scrimmage, intercepted by a lineman, and returned to setup a touchdown by the Cardinals. Aside from one pass play to Randle El that went for 26 yards, the Redskins had no other offensive play that gained more than 20 yards, which are used in official NFL statistics to denote a “big play.” In other words, between the interception and the lack of a passing attack, the passing offense did very little to contribute to yesterday’s win – and in some ways it contributed to making the outcome closer than it should have been.

1 Quarter

Rushing Offense:

Even though the rushing offense, and particularly Clinton Portis, continue to struggle through this season, there were enough moments of competence in rushing that the offense as a whole could move the ball and score on its own. Portis led the way with 43 yards on eighteen carries, netting a paltry 2.4 yard-per-carry average. His greatest contributions actually came at the goal line, where he was able to sneak around the corner for one touchdown and dive over the offensive line to record another. Also, he didn’t fumble inside of the Redskins’ 20-yard line – or at any other important point in the game – which is an improvement from the team’s previous losses to Green Bay and the New York Giants.

Betts only saw three carries yesterday, equal to his workload in last week’s loss to Green Bay and his fewest carries in a game since week nine of 2006. Betts’ one highlight was a crucial 10-yard scamper that ended on the Cardinals’ one-yard line and set up a Clinton Portis score.

Running behind the tattered offensive line was obviously posing problems against a stout Arizona front seven. First contact against running backs rarely came beyond the line of scrimmage, and as a result few rushing attempts were more than pileups for one or two yard gains. Nevertheless, half of the Redskins’ first down plays on offense and both of its touchdowns came on runs. Nothing inspirational, but just barely enough to keep the team ahead in the game.

2 Quarters

Defense:

Sunday was another admirable performance for a defensive unit that is increasingly bearing the burden from a struggling offense. Arizona had a ten-minute advantage over the Redskins in time of possession, but the Redskins managed to contain the dangerous passing attack of the Cardinals, featuring what is perhaps the best wide receiver tandem in the league in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

Unlike the single-faceted offenses of Detroit and Green Bay, Arizona has shown an ability to run the ball well in addition to having a potent passing attack. Arizona remained faithful to the ground game, handing the ball to Edgerrin James on 27 attempts. Despite strong blocking by the Cardinals’ offensive line, James managed only 83 yards, with a long run of sixteen yards. London Fletcher was in great form, sniffing out runs and getting into the backfield to make plays. He ended the day with a team-high thirteen tackles. Rocky McIntosh continued his productive season with nine tackles, and the linebackers got great run support from Shawn Springs and LaRon Landry, who contributed seven and nine tackles, respectively. The defense held James to just over three yards per attempt, forcing the Cardinals’ to rely on their passing attack to move the chains.

The pass defense struggled at times, however, as Kurt Warner and his stud receivers picked their way across the field in the second half. Fitzgerald ended the day with 97 yards on six receptions, and J.J. Arrington had 47 yards on four receptions. The Cardinals made some plays when they needed it most, driving nearly 70 yards on eight plays late in the fourth quarter to come within two points of a tie.

Sean Taylor moved from being tied for first in the league with four interceptions to holding that spot on his own with five. London Fletcher recorded his second interception of the year, which he returned for a touchdown – the second Redskins defensive touchdown in three weeks.

In the end, the Redskins’ defensive performance was all about containment rather than dominance, as the Cardinals had too many weapons at their disposal and too much time on the field to wear out the defense. The final play of the match, a 55-yard field goal attempt, symbolized this unit’s play well: the Redskins kept Arizona about as far away from victory as they could, but in the end the Cardinals still had a chance to steal it.

4 Quarters

Special Teams:

Sunday’s game was the special teams unit’s worst performance of this season to date. Oddly enough, it was also peppered by the occasional outstanding play.

The punting game has not looked very good the further this season has progressed. An early punt was blocked after a half-hearted block on the outside allowed a defender to come in free. Frost later shanked a punt in the fourth quarter, giving Arizona good field position that, thankfully, was negated by a good defensive performance.

Shaun Suisham also appears to be going through a rough patch. His kickoffs were short, and he missed yet another makeable kick, this time from 41 yards out. Had he converted, it’s likely that the final minutes of this game wouldn’t have been quite as tense. There is still plenty of time for Suisham to shake off his recent field goal problems, and thankfully it did not cost the Redskins the game on this occasion.

Rock Cartwright had the biggest gain of the day with an 80-yard kick return that might have gone all the way for a touchdown, had he not injured himself during the run.

Coverage on punt and kickoff returns remains as solid as ever. They also blocked a 2nd quarter extra point attempt that forced the Cardinals to gamble late in the game with a 2-point conversion. However, the unit then failed to cover up an onside kick, a mistake that nearly cost the team the game. Between the blocked punt, the shanked punt, and the poor coverage on the onside kick, the special teams put far more pressure on the defense than it should have.

3 Quarters

– Daniel Coleman

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Daniel Coleman

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The Fifth Quarter: Green Bay Packers


In yesterday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, the Washington Redskins showed decisively that their second-half collapse against the New York Giants in week three of this season was by no means a mere aberration. Despite leading 14–7 going into the half and not allowing the Packers to score an offensive touchdown in the second half, Washington had an anemic second half on offense and made enough mistakes to lose the game.

On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:

Passing Offense:

Yesterday’s passing game saw Jason Campbell’s passes slip through just about every receiver’s fingers. While play calling was good, and receivers didn’t have too much trouble getting open, Campbell’s well-placed throws slipped, bounced, and careened off of the hands of his targets. Campbell’s final line (21/37, 217 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception) would have looked Pro Bowl caliber had his receivers simply secured the balls that hit their hands.

Chris Cooley had a career day that unfortunately won’t be long remembered in the face of an otherwise miserable performance, ending the day with 105 yards and one touchdown on nine receptions.

The drop-off in production from Cooley’s performance is remarkable: the second leading receiver of the day was Keenan McCardell, who netted thirty yards on two catches. Moss had a disappointing return to the starting lineup, dropping more passes than he caught, including one deflection that landed into the hands of Charles Woodson for an interception. Antwaan Randle El, who had been the Redskins’ biggest playmaker, was a non-factor.

As if seeing the passing game fall apart completely wasn’t bad enough, the Redskins saw three offensive linemen go down with injuries and nearly had to call on defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander to finish the game. This had a noticeable effect in the final three offensive drives, in which Campbell was hurried and hit repeatedly, sacked once, and fumbled a bad snap from backup center Mike Pucillo. Pete Kendall and Chris Samuels continue to play well, but the Redskins will not be able to hold down a decent rushing game or pass protection scheme without three of their starters.

1 Quarter

Rushing Offense:

The running attack served the Redskins well in the first half, but like the passing game it suffered a huge drop-off in the final 30 minutes of the game.

The Redskins’ poor performance on the ground was made worse by two costly fumbles. The first came on a reverse to Santana Moss and was returned by Charles Woodson for what became the winning score. Clinton Portis lost the ball inside the Redskins’ 10-yard line, and although the defense held tight and the Packers missed their chip-shot field goal, Portis’ blunder nearly cost the Redskins this game.

Betts continues to struggle to find his groove, running for ten yards on three carries. Mike Sellers saw his usual load of three carries and produced fourteen yards, including another first down. Campbell made a nice scramble for a touchdown in the second quarter, capping off one of the Redskins’ only well run drives.

All of the backs plus Campbell combined for 29 carries, 94 yards, one touchdown, and two fumbles lost (one of which was returned for a touchdown). Certainly an underwhelming performance, even though it was never completely shut out.

2 Quarters

Defense:

Like Cooley’s career day on offense, the collective effort of Washington’s defense – as dominating as it was – was soured by the team’s offensive struggles. Overall, the defense held Brett Favre to nineteen completions, 188 yards, no touchdowns, and grabbed two interceptions. Against the run, they held the Packers to under 60 yards. Green Bay was forced to punt eight times and only entered the Redskins’ red zone on three occasions.

Gregg Williams continued to look to his front four for pressure in passing situations, although this strategy was met with less success than last week’s home game against Detroit. Williams blitzed on only a couple of occasions, and he often relied on only three linemen in third down situations, dropping a defensive end into zone coverage.

The result of Williams’ coverage-heavy defense was near-complete containment of the Packers’ passing attack. Aside from tight end Donald Lee’s breakaway reception of 60 yards, which set up Green Bay’s only offensive touchdown, their longest pass completion went for only eighteen yards.

Sean Taylor’s new assignment as a true free safety has continued to pay off handsomely for the Redskins. On five occasions, Brett Favre sent passes down the sidelines thinking he had an open receiver, only to see Sean Taylor chase down the throw from across the field and either knock the ball away or intercept it. With two interceptions, Taylor helped Favre set his second major record for the year, as he passed George Blanda on the all-time interceptions list.

4 Quarters

Special Teams:

Derrick Frost showed flashes of his 2005 form with several short kicks, including a 34-yard punt that barely crossed midfield, although he ended the day with decent numbers (eight punts with a 40.6 average, including a long kick of 56 yards). Punt coverage was solid. Shaun Suisham couldn’t get any kickoffs into the end zone, but the coverage held Green Bay to about a fourteen-yard average on returns.

Rock Cartwright made strong returns on kickoffs, including a 40-yard dash in the third quarter when the Redskins needed it badly. Randel El, however, hasn’t made much of his punt returns this year.

Sunday’s match was about on par with this unit’s typical performance, which for 2007 has been dependable and strong.

3 Quarters

3–2 may sound positive, but with an impotent offense, the injuries to the offensive line, and the brutal schedule that the Redskins face over the next month, this loss has made their road to a spot in the playoffs much harder.

– Daniel Coleman

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Daniel Coleman

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