Redskins and Texans fans alike were treated to an aerial display by quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Matt Schaub as they combined for 923 yards through the air last Sunday, the second most combined yardage by opposing gunslingers in a single game in NFL History.
Heading into their second home game as the underdog, the Redskins built a 17-point lead into the third quarter. The defense was getting to Schuab and did not allow him to make as many plays as he was accustomed to until the end of the third quarter when Houston began its comeback.
The final quarter showed Redskins fans what the Colts found out the hard way in Week 1: these aren’t your older brother’s Texans.
Following the 17-point lead, the Redskins defense gave up shocking 20 unanswered points, including Neil Rackers’ game-winning kick in overtime, which was the first in Texans history.
Considering the familiarity that the Redskins coaching staff (mainly offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan) has with how the Texans operate, shouldn’t the Redskins defense have been more prepared for the late game heroics that were about to come?
“They didn't panic during the game,” Redskins linebacker Andre Carter said about the Texans. “They slowly started coming back by eliminating mistakes and benefiting from ours.”
“Big plays killed us,” he added. “That's all I can say. When you eliminate the big plays our world is a much better place,” Carter said.
Those mistakes and big plays included an unfathomable 34-yard touchdown pass from Schaub to his favorite target, wide receiver Andre Johnson, on 4th and 10 with just over two minutes left in the game to push the contest into overtime.
The Redskins defense was well aware of Johnson’s capabilities beforehand but he was somehow able to get open in space and eventually lifted the Texans with his first score in the fourth quarter.
With so much attention on Johnson, how was he still able to continue to accumulate 12 catches for 158 yards?
“I really can't answer that. It's so tough to say. What I do know is that he's a playmaker and created the change of the game in the forth quarter,” Carter said.
The loss puts the Redskins at 1-1 heading into what many are calling a “must-win” Week 3 game against a very young and rebuilding franchise.
Luckily for the Redskins, much like after the season opening victory against the Dallas Cowboys, the loss to Houston was quickly forgotten and the team immediately turned its attention towards the St. Louis Rams going into this Sunday.
“We have grown so much during this year alone,” Carter said. “The past is the past. We are not down about it after we watched the film of the Texans game Monday morning. It was over with by Monday morning then [by] Tuesday we were ready to prepare for the Rams.”
That mindset is a change from the 2009 Redskins that seemed to linger off of each painful loss to much lesser opponents. If Redskins fans thought 4-12 was bad for one season, they should take a look at the record that loyal Rams fans have had to suffer through recently. The present-day Rams, a far cry from “The Greatest Show on Turf” that everyone grew accustomed to a decade ago, have won only six games since 2006 and are 3-35 in the last 38 games.
Despite those staggering stats, the Redskins know better than to take the Rams for granted.
“Every game is a big challenge. Despite the scoring ratio of the St. Louis Rams we need to be on top of our game,” Carter said.
Carter says that stopping the Rams will involve containing bruising running back Steven Jackson and constantly pressuring quarterback Sam Bradford, this year’s first overall pick in the draft.
“So many thoughts run through my head,” Carter said in regards to what concerns him about the Rams offense. “They have [Steven] Jackson, who is running at a high level, a great receiving corps and a QB that likes to take chances. Those are the areas we need to focus on.”
Another reason to not take St. Louis lightly is the amount of parity in the first two weeks of this young NFL season. Who would have guessed that teams like Tampa Bay and Kansas City would be leading their divisions with a 2-0 record and teams like the Cowboys and Vikings would be starting their seasons winless after two weeks?
That could be a symptom of the amount of talent spreading throughout the league a little more evenly, with better players leaving better teams for worse teams and vice versa, as well as lesser players overachieving and understanding how to attack their opponents better.
“I think teams who were at the bottom of the barrel are improving in so many areas, which is good because it makes the game more interesting,” Carter said.
On a more somber note, TheHogs.net would like to send its condolences to the Denver Broncos and the family and friends of wide receiver Kenny McKinley, who tragically passed away on Monday from what is being reported in Denver as an apparent suicide.
Carter, also affected by this news, says that this type of situation reinforces player’s perceptions of life.
“It's unfortunate to have a young man die before his time. How he passed away is unfortunate. I’m not sure how this news affects the rest of the league but I'm sure it gives us an overall perspective that life can't be taken for granted.
Reportedly, McKinley was suffering from depression and part of the depression resulted from him being placed on Injured Reserve before the season after he spent the offseason hoping to have a breakthrough sophomore season and get more playing time.
If McKinley’s death was in fact a suicide, it proves that the pressures and the ups and downs of the NFL can drastically affect players mentally and emotionally, much like what any real life experience can do to an everyday person who isn’t a celebrity athlete.
“It can be an emotional roller coaster as players, especially if you are a promising player. The level of expectations of performance and being a [high] caliber player is always big. However, when an injury occurs, there is nothing that can fill that void of competing each Sunday and having those weeks of constant grind preparing for an opponent. It's unfortunate this incident happened,” Carter said.
broomboy: How does the team/you recover and get focused on St. Louis after such a tough loss?
AC: Look towards the future and let go of the past.
cowboykillerzRED: Can we look forward to a stronger secondary with Kareem Moore's return?
AC: Kareem's return will be a great benefit to our team. I don't know how much he will play but we are happy to have him back.