The Fifth Quarter: Panthers
By: Mark Solway
Category: Washington Redskins News
Here are our rankings for each unit (out of a possible five quarters):
Jason Campbell's second career start could have been described as unremarkable. With less than five minutes to go in the game, the young quarterback had thrown for just 52 yards and ten completions in the game. But his eleventh completion changed everything.
Chris Cooley took a short pass from Campbell, shook off a tackle, and took it 66 yards for a touchdown and ultimately, for a 17-13 Redskin win. Campbell also had a four yard touchdown pass to Antwaan Randle El in the third quarter.
Campbell posted his most important statistic as a starter so far, a victory.
Cooley's touchdown run gave him 89 yards on three catches to frost his best game this season.
The Redskins nearly got to the magic number of forty carries Sunday, logging 37 rushes. Ladell Betts had a workmanlike 24 carries for 104 yards, and T.J. Duckett added 24 more yards on seven carries. In all, Washington pounded out 143 total yards on the ground against a very tough Panthers defense. Duckett had the longest run of the day at nineteen yards, and Mike Sellers added a nice thirteen yard run.
The offensive line deserves a quarter for a big day against one of the best defensive front four in football. There were a couple of breakdowns in pass protection and a couple of untimely penalties, but they had their best outing in weeks.
Well it wasn't quite the defense of the past two seasons, but it certainly was a much better impression of it.
Vernon Fox got the start at strong safety with Troy Vincent out, and Adam Archuletta seemingly deep in the doghouse. It didn't take long for Fox to make an impact as he intercepted a Jake Delhomme pass on just the second Panthers' offensive play of the game. The great Panther receiver Steve Smith was held to just 34 yards on five receptions, thanks to Shawn Springs' best game of the year.
The wheels look like they might have fallen off for the defense early in the fourth quarter, when they allowed a deflating 15 play, eight minute touchdown drive to fall behind 13-10 with just under eight minutes to go. A Jason Campbell interception on the first play of the drive following the Carolina touchdown, forced a quick turnaround for the Redskins defense, and they could have easily caved. But the defense knuckled down for a pivotal three and out, and the Redskins responded four plays later with what would be the game-winning touchdown pass to Cooley.
The defense actually had to make two more defensive stands in the game. The first one ended with the defense stuffing the Panthers on a fourth and six at the Redskin 33-yard line, and the other ended with a Sean Taylor interception in the Redskins' end zone with about one minute to go in the game.
It may not have been quite the defense of 2005, but it was definitely their best outing of the 2006 season. The Redskins were a completely different team on Sunday because of it.
It was a bittersweet performance for the Redskins' special teams on Sunday. Nick Novak missed a 37-yard field goal, and Derrick Frost had a punt blocked in the second quarter. Neither kicker had a very good day, but Novak did redeem the previous miss with a 42-yard field goal.
There was some good special teams play as well against the Panthers. The Redskins did a good job in kick coverage and blocked a punt in the third quarter that was a huge play in terms of momentum. Washington took over at the Carolina 36-yard line, and put up their first touchdown of the game seven plays later.
The Redskins' faithful needed the win badly. Washington will try to build off of the win next week with their second consecutive home game, and hopefully, their second consecutive win.
Editor's Note: I will be heading down (from Canada) to the game next week against the Falcons, and I will be there the following week against the Eagles as well. I hope all THNers will make an effort to come on out to our tailgate party in section A75 of the Green Lot at Fed Ex and say hello. We're also having a Toy drive at both games for 'Toys for Tots', so please check our message board for further details.
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