The fans can breathe a little easier after this weeks game, with the Redskins showing that they had indeed improved more than a Giants team that decided to stay in the doldrums. With Trung Canidate leading the way, the Redskins showed their Fun Ė n Ė Run offense today. Their 46 rushes in this game led the way to controlling the ball and keeping the porous defense from allowing the game to slip away.
Tim Hasselbeck was almost flawless today, with 13 completions in 19 attempts and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. While not throwing for a tremendous amount of yardage, only 154 yards, due mostly to the wind, he also didnít make many mistakes. His passes, even the ones off target, werenít bad, and some circus catches by the receivers, including Gardner and Coles helped keep the Redskins marching long enough to mount and keep a good lead. Hog Noses this week have to go to McCants, the team leader in receiving touchdowns catching his sixth, and Gardner, who forgot he was supposed to drop critical catches, catching another. The offensive line held up well, even including Strahanís two sacks, coming on Andre Ware, not Jansen. The coaching today showed a patience we havenít seen in two years, and while the passing game wasnít stellar, Hasselbeck showed teams that dumped him without a fair trial why they shouldnít have.
While the yards per average wasnít spectacular, the running by committee controlled the ball with Canidate, Morton and Cartwright getting yardage when needed. With the winds howling in the winter at the Meadowlands, the running game was hyper critical, and though it didnít score for the Skins, it delivered what they needed: Time off the clock and time from the pass rush. Betts saw a rush, but then left the field never to be seen again, making fans wonder if he is done for in the Burgundy and Gold. Canidate was injured again, bringing Morton and Rock back as the featured runners, both getting medium sized runs of 21 for Morton and 12 for Rock when the time called for it. The Hog Noses in this case go to Morton and Canidate for carrying the ball 32 times between them, and running relentlessly into a tough Giants defensive front seven. A secondary Hog Nose would go to the coaching staff who figured out fairly quickly that the wind would call for a running game, and showing they werenít afraid to stay with it.
Well, Bruce finally got it. The record has fallen on Jesse Palmerís shoulders as the 199th sack of Bruceís career. Now with his record in the bag, maybe he can bow out a little more gracefully and allow Upshaw to play and get back to stopping the run on the left side. The Skins played fairly well on defense today, though there were a couple of drives where the Giants looked like they were going to punch through to the end zone again. Today, fans got a taste of what happens when the Skins come out of their turtle shell called the Cover 2 and actually snap at the quarterbacks with blitzes. The linebackers had many plays up towards the line of scrimmage and actually stopped Barber, Levens, and sacked the Giants quarterbacks after those drives. When the blitzes came, the quarterbacks made mistakes, and often times dents in the ground. Armstead had 2 sacks, Arrington mirroring him on the other side of the line. Marshall and Trotter shared another sack, and of course, Smith dragged Palmer down for the sixth. Amazingly, the Giants quarterbacks were 12/25 for 145 yards, 6 sacks, 1 interception and no touchdowns. Yes, it was a makeshift offensive line, but six sacks is not just because of that. The stunts and blitzes showed creativity and put the Giants on their heels and into punting formation often. The hope is that someone might point this out and learn from it.
The wind from Hades blew into the Meadowlands today, and it caused havoc with all of the kickers, save Jeff Feagles. Barker, well, it might be better not to talk about him. Hall made 2 out of 3 field goals, but missed his first inside of 40 all year. The kick returners had problems trying to figure out where the ball was going to come down and it made for some very short kickoffs on both sides. Patrick Johnson almost ran the ball back, but settled for a 50 yard return after being chased out of bounds by the kicker. It was a good day for the kickoff coverage team, not allowing any spectacular returns even with the short kickoffs. The punt return team, well, they didnít have much to cover. All in all, it was easier to digest with the W in the column than an L.