Shaun Suisham made a clutch kick in overtime to put a pretty ending on an ugly win for the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Ugly or not, the Redskins sit at 1–0, and if they continue to put away winnable games like they did yesterday against the Miami Dolphins, few Redskin fans will complain.
On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of one to five quarters:
Jason Campbell was rattled early when his first pass attempt was intercepted. To his credit, he returned to the game poised, and two drives later led a thirteen play 67-yard drive. Campbell finished the game with two interceptions and no touchdowns, and this game will surely be used as a learning experience for him. He will need to bring his shorter passes under control, as he consistently overthrew his targets, but he showed great touch on some of his deep balls.
Antwaan Randle El had a career day, catching five passes for an amazing 162 yards. A big chunk of those yards (54) came on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the game, that nearly worked for the Redskins, but ultimately just ended up padding some statistics. Randle El also had other long completions of 49, and 35 yards.
Santana Moss had a very frustrating first half, getting wide open only to have Campbell overthrow him, and dropping another ball that hit his chest as he crossed over the middle. He made a couple of catches in the second half but wasn't a factor in the game.
Pass protection was generally good, especially considering the devastating injury to Jon Jansen. Stephon Heyer, a no-name to the national media but well known to Redskins fans after this preseason, stepped in beautifully. The Redskins often used Chris Cooley to help solidify the right side of the line, which at least somewhat explains Campbell only getting him the ball once in the entire game.
Early in the game there was little to no rushing threat by the Redskins, who went into halftime having managed just 2.7 yards per carry. Joe Gibbs and Al Saunders stuck with the run, however, and were rewarded for their patience. Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts finished with a combined 34 carries for 157 yards, and eight first downs. Portis scored the Redskins only touchdown on a 19-yard scamper. The two backs also gave the Redskins 46 yards on seven attempts in overtime, carrying the offense on their backs into field goal range.
Saunders' commitment to the run paid off when the offensive line began getting a good push against a tired defense. While the Redskins found their rhythm a bit late in the game, it may have been the difference between a win and a loss.
The 2007 Washington Redskins defense looks a lot like the 2004-2005 squad, except faster. Rocky McIntosh was all over the field making plays: he recorded eleven tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. London Fletcher was a force disrupting the offense, especially the run – he finished with twelve tackles. Andre Carter got his first sack of the year – hopefully the first of many.
The Redskins were able to shut down Miami's running game almost completely, holding them to just 66 yards. Ronnie Brown managed just 32 yards and a 2.9 yards per carry average.
Pass coverage was decent in the first half, but the Redskins began to give up some big pass plays later in the game. Passing was the only phase of Miami's game that worked: in total, twelve of Miami's seventeen first downs came on passing plays. Carlos Rogers showed poor coverage and tackling skills at times, which could once again be a concern for the defense.
Overall, though, the defense got the job done. In a game when the offense had trouble putting up points, the defense made sure that the Redskins stayed in it.
Shaun Suisham was perfect on the day, hitting field goals from 31, 44, and the 39-yard overtime winner. His kickoffs were consistently deep, with one going into the end zone and another landing on the one yard line, pinning the return man into a corner. He appears confident and ready to prove to all of D.C. that he deserves the confidence that the coaching staff has shown in him.
Punter Derrick Frost looked good Sunday, consistently booming his kicks deep and high enough that the coverage team had time to get down the field. When the Redskins were forced to punt from their own eight yard line, Frost sent a punt 64 yards down field to the Miami 28.
Sunday’s match was eerily comparable to the Washington's season opener last year - a tight game at home decided by the foot of the Redskins' kicker in the final seconds. Both games saw a Redskin quarterback struggle with an offense they continue to learn, and the loss of a valuable player (Pierson Prioleau in 2006, Jon Jansen in 2007). Both games were ugly to watch.
The difference, and ultimately the only thing that matters, is that this year Washington came away victorious.