Fifth Quarter Playoff Edition - Tampa Bay
Yesterday's game was a typical Joe Gibbs playoff game. It was not perfect, it certainly was not pretty, but it was a Washington Redskins victory. Thank you coaching staff and players for a great season thus far and a great run. Seeing the culture of losing removed from Redskin Park, and bringing the franchise from the depths of despair made this season a success, so this is all gravy. That being said, three in a row, and we win the show!!
It’s kind of hard to grade this aspect of the game. The offense only really had three drives that were in anything other than run out the clock and try to get a first down mode.
Brunell had a rough day (7/15 or 47%, for 41 yards and an INT, good for a 25.7 passer rating), but when you are in Run-Run-Pass offense, it is difficult to get things rolling. On the few drives that we were legitimately trying to score, Brunell had a few nice 6-7 yard outs to Moss for 8 and 10 yards respectively. Sadly, Moss led the offense with 2 for 18. Portis missed a wide-open Santana Moss early for a score on a half back option, which continues to be an effective play with defenses keying on Portis on first down. Brunell also missed Moss on a pass along the sidelines that would surely have resulted in a long score. Somewhere along the line, teams decided that if they shut down Cooley rather than Moss, our offense would stall.
Portis went out early and often due to re-aggravating the stinger in his shoulder. Unfortunately, defenders hit harder in the playoffs, making the likelihood that it gets better before it gets worse a far-fetched hope. Betts filled in and played hard, but against a fast, swarming defense like Tampa’s, Ladell was unable to find much running room.
The offensive line has played better games, but in fairness they were playing one of the best defenses in the league, and Samuels was facing his nemesis in Simeon Rice, who just has his number. Samuels has played well all year, and he will undoubtedly play well next week in Seattle, but Rice is one of the best ends in the league and has had phenomenal success against the Washington Redskins.
Portis had a beautiful 6 yard run following Arrington’s interception in the first quarter, but other than that and an 11-yard scramble by Brunell for a first down, the running game was basically nonexistent.
What a performance. Has there ever been a more dominant performance by a Redskins defense? The defensive linemen were told this week that Chris Simms will be throwing a lot of short and intermediate routes, eliminating the need for a lot of blitzing. The D-line’s job was to get a couple of steps into the back field and jump, and that they did.
Cornelius Griffin and Joe Salave’a each tipped 2 Simms’ passes, two of which resulted in interceptions that were almost identical. Phillip Daniels had a sack, as did fellow defensive end Demetric Evans, who filled in admirably for the fallen Renaldo Wynn.
The linebacking corps also had an outstanding day. LaVar Arrington recorded 10 tackles (8 solo) and an interception to set up the first score of the day. Marcus Washington’s stat line looked the same, except he added a forced fumble and recovery, which he fumbled to Sean Taylor for the second score of the day, and the second score for Taylor in as many weeks.
The “decimated” secondary that Michael Irvin predicted would lose the game for the Redskins had an outstanding day. The game plan seemed to be to keep the Bucs receivers in front of them, and they were successful in this regard for most of the day. Let’s face it: when your opposing quarterback throws 38 times with 25 completions and fails to gain 200 yards, your game plan is working.
On a side note regarding Sean Taylor, on high-def, 55-inch television with TV, at no time did this reporter see any spit come out of Taylor’s face mask, although far be it from me to question the integrity of Mike Carey. Carey is one of the best in the game and was 2 feet away, but it did not appear that Taylor ever stopped talking making it more likely that spittle may have come out while jaw-jacking than a full-fledged loogie. In either case, how can you not call a penalty on a guy who throws a punch 2 feet in front of you Mike? You ejected Taylor as per the rule, but when was the rule altered to say the person spit on gets a free punch first?
Regardless, the team needs you next week Sean. The team needs your swagger and the team needs your physical presence on the field. Be careful out there, but not too careful.
Derrick Frost looked good out there on Sunday. As often as THN has blasted this guy in fifth quarters this season, Frost was booming them yesterday -- well, other than that 12 yard bomb at the end of the game, which tarnished an otherwise real NFL punting performance. Frost has played increasingly better since the winning streak has begun, and he will need to keep up the improvement as the Redskins progress. No more 12-yarders, friend.
John Hall started as he has for most of the season, looking average while compensating for his injuries; that all seemed to change as the game progressed. At some point, Hall must have gained some confidence in his leg. After the first two kickoffs landed at the 14 and 12 respectively, his kickoffs seemed to return to the Hall kickoffs of old. His third kickoff landed at the 5. Then following a 47 yard field goal to put the Redskins up 17-3 –a kick that had plenty of distance – Hall dropped the ensuing kickoff on the Tampa Bay 1 yard line. Is the elite John Hall back? If this game is any indication, I say yes – and just in time for a playoff run.
The Redskin coverage teams had their hands full with Michael Pittman. Had John Hall not found his leg, this could have been a much different game. Pittman averaged 24 yards per return including a 27 yarder. Luckily, the defense was stout or this could have been a major problem for the Redskins.
Finally, Antonio Brown had a quiet day, except for the muffed punt that he eventually recovered himself. This particular play was baffling. Number one, who’s responsibility was it on that play to yell, “Fair Catch”? The returner relies on this guy so that he can concentrate on the ball. It’s hard to catch a punt when you think you are safe until the last second when you see a defender in your face about to lay you out. That being said, this is the NFL and further more, this is the playoffs. You have to catch that ball whether you are going to get drilled or not.
Bottom line Redskins fans, is that this team pulled out a gutsy performance, winning a playoff game with the lowest offensive output in the history of the NFL (ironically enough, Washington also holds the record for the third lowest). While that makes for an interesting trivia fact, the bottom line is that the Redskins are preparing for Seattle, while the Bucs are preparing for vacation.
Welcome back to respectability. Not bad for a 4-12 team, huh Dr. Z?
This article was released on 2006-01-08.
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