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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
3–2 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
This article was released on 2007-10-15.
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