Week 12: The Saints
The Redskins are making progress, but just not enough to win the games. That is the way it appears when watching these last few nail biters, including this game against the Saints. The offense seems to click a little better – this time the running game seemed to do better with a back going over one hundred yards for the first time this year. The defense seemed to solidify for a while, and the special teams got on track. It just didn’t seem to hold up towards the end with another last minute loss going into the books.
Tim Hasselbeck was not stellar, but looked very good after the first couple of drives. Yes, he did have some overthrows, and had one interception. He was over 50% but not by far – 22/42 for 231 yards. He made some key throws and the receivers made some key drops. The thing of it is, he did move the team, he did make key decisions at the right time, and with some experience and time, could be the proven backup to Ramsey that the Redskins need. Coles made a couple of spectacular catches, and Gardner did well on a few wide receiver screens. A lot of the passing went to the backs, including the interception that went through Trung’s hands and right to a defender. The Hog Noses: Coles for his great receptions on a turf toe and bad heel, the offensive line for their splendid protection versus two good pass rushers.
Trung went from good to bad, electrifying to stultified. On one play he would zip through a hole, on another he would run into his own blockers beside the hole. He earned his first 100 yard game for the Skins versus the Saints, carrying the ball for 115 yards on 16 carries. Rock scored his third touchdown of the game on a second down pitchout near the goal line, and Betts saw his first action, looking good on some screen passes. Unfortunately, the running game was sporadic enough, mixed with some passes dropped by the receivers, to keep the offense hiccupping all day.
Well, it seems that the media finally picked up on what has been said here for weeks. The defense is sitting back and watching plays develop, and they can’t do that if they expect players like Arrington and Trotter to be the monsters they want. The announcers illustrated what is the main problem with a read and react defense yesterday – the three men in the middle sit on their heels until the play develops, then move to stop it. This results in an opposing offense being able to gain hundreds of yards all day, while not scoring large points. Sounds good to a certain extent, but the one thing the announcers didn’t tie together with the read and react – the last minute failures of the defense. When a team has been beaten up on like this one was with McCallister, because that was what it was all day – to the tune of 165 yards on the ground – it wears out. Brooks scrambled for two quarterback touchdowns, with the spies on the quarterback being stuffed in the end zone by who else but McAllister. The question would remain - why would a defense with a mobile quarterback in front of them locate their spies in the end zone, 12 yards from the aforementioned quarterback? On top of all this, Bailey got schooled by Joe Horn, the Joe Horn who has a bad knee and has been held virtually to nothing in the last few weeks. He looked like a rookie out there yesterday with two pass interference penalties and a holding call on a kick return. Regan Upshaw aided the Saints in their efforts with another late hit on the QB. While it looked like the defense was stiffening, it folded at the wrong time again. Two touchdown runs by Brooks, followed by a pass to Boo Williams in the fourth quarter ended fans hopes again.
The special teams were the light and the dark of the game, with Chad Morton’s electrifying 94 yard touchdown romp in the second quarter. Fans all knew it was coming – all year you could see the glimmers of the possibilities. The blocking for Morton was superb and he blew past everyone once breaking a few tackles to show why the Redskins picked him up in the offseason. John Hall kicked three beautiful field goals from beyond 45 yards and even Barker was doing well with his punts. Unfortunately, a reverse from Morton to Patrick Johnson showed why there is very little of this in the NFL, losing at least eight yards to a well disciplined special teams who stayed home and stuffed the east – west running Johnson. Then, when the coverage mattered the most, the special teams let us down for the first time on the coverage in a while. A 52 yard kick return after Hall put the Skins up by three set the Saints offense up for the go ahead pass to Williams. It was a day of ups and downs for the special teams and the fans.
This article was released on 2003-12-01.
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