Fifth Quarter: St. Louis Rams
To quote the great Yogi Berra: "It was like déjà vu all over again", as the Washington Redskins found themselves up 17-7 in the fourth quarter. On their next possession, Mark Brunell fumbled the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety, leading many Redskins fans to start thinking of the past three weeks’ fourth quarter collapses. This week however, ended much differently.
To just glance at the stats, one might think that the Redskins passing attack had a tough day. Brunell’s 156 yards passing was the third lowest total of the season in his twelve starts. Upon closer review however, Brunell had his most efficient game of the season, completing 66.7 percent of his passes on the day.
Santana Moss continued to battle through double and even triple teams as the Redskins try to establish a receiver on the other side of the field in the void left by the injured David Patten. While Moss’s 3 receptions was his lowest total on the season, his 30-yard catch on 3rd and 9 to close out the third quarter was huge, as he beat triple coverage to keep the drive alive that put the Redskins up 17-7.
Chris Cooley continued to impress, once again leading the Redskins in receiving. Cooley had 5 catches for 58 yards and a touchdown catch to extend the Redskins lead to 24-9 in the fourth quarter. His sure hands and ability to get tough yards after the catch are a big part of the Redskins success.
For the first time since 2002, the Washington Redskins had two backs go over 100 yards in the same game. Clinton Portis broke free for a 47 yard touchdown in the first quarter to put the Redskins up 7-0. That play was executed flawlessly with Robert Royal and Randy Thomas throwing key blocks 30 yards down field to ensure that Portis ran untouched into the end zone. Portis finished the day with 136 yards on 27 carries and 2 touchdowns.
Then there was Rock. Fan-favorite Rock Cartwright had a career day at the expense of the St. Louis Rams defense. On his first carry of the day, Rock took the ball 52 yards to set up a 38-yard John Hall field goal. His second carry went for 28 yards and a few plays later, his third carry went for 25 yards before being negated by a Casey Rabach holding call. When all was said and done, Cartwright set a career-high 118 yards on just 9 carries.
The offensive line was phenomenal against St. Louis on Sunday, and as a result, the Redskins, and more specifically the Redskins rushing attack, dominated this game.
The Redskins defense came into this game looking to make things as difficult as possible for the Ram’s rookie signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick in his first career start. The first step was to take Steven Jackson out of the game, and that they did. The second year running back gained just 24 yards on 11 carries for a paltry 2.2 yards per attempt.
The Rams did not fare much better in the passing game, as Fitzpatrick was harassed all afternoon. The Redskins defense sacked the Harvard grad 3 times, and disguised coverages and blitz packages throughout the game. Fitzpatrick did score the only touchdown of the game for the Rams on a 7 yard scramble in the second quarter, but the Rams should never have been in that situation. The Redskins defense forced an incomplete pass on fourth down and two to go, only to give the Rams a first down on a face mask penalty on Sean Taylor.
All in all, the Redskins turned in a dominating performance, producing a steady pass rush all day and forcing two turnovers, including an interception by Carlos Rogers to seal the game.
Derrick Frost may have had his best game as a Redskin, but he paled in comparison to the former Redskin Bryan Barker. The punting game has been a sore spot for most of the season for the Washington Redskins, and watching a professional like Barker drove that point home. If Tupa is not healthy next season, a serious upgrade at the position is crucial to the future success of this team.
John Hall had a decent day, but his second quarter was “no good”. Hall missed a 45 yard field goal to open the quarter, and then, after hitting a 38-yarder to put the Skins up 10-7, sailed the ensuing kick-off out of bounds giving the Rams the ball on the 40 yard line.
Antonio Brown seems to be protecting the ball at all costs since being resigned by the team two weeks ago. As a result, the electrifying moves that Brown has shown in the past are no where in sight. Still Brown was effective in this game, averaging 7.6 yards per punt return and 21 yards per kick return.
The Redskins were far from perfect in this game, but the offense broke the 20 point threshold that has eluded them for much of this season and the defense was able to close out the game in the fourth quarter. As a result, the Redskins broke their 3-game losing streak and evened their record at 6-6, keeping the playoff hopes alive.
This article was released on 2005-12-05.
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