I much prefer getting these out immediately following a game's end as the results are fresh in my mind. Too bad. Anyways, here are my brief thoughts from the game yesterday, enjoy or don't. As always, I use only my eyes to evaluate a game and have no special monopoly on interesting commentary on the results. Reader(s) are encouraged to post their own thoughts. Lots of great commentary over at Blogging The Boys, Grizz covers the Xs and Os much better than me so you might stop by over there.
- Cliches were the name of the game. All those things talking heads love to discuss that allegedly good teams do so well... we did so well. Starting with: Stop the run. Their explanation for why they abandoned the run so early are baffling but entertaining:
"It wasn't hard to run the ball against them," guard Leonard Davis said. "We had a game plan based on the looks they were giving us, and that dictated we stick with the passing game."
Mr. Davis is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts. You can say "it wasn't hard to run the ball against" the Redskins if and only if you... ran the ball against the Redskins. What that doesn't look like is 11 carries for 44 yards. Marion Barber had 8 touches for 26 yards -- 2. 3 something yards per carry -- and Felix Jones had zero carries. Barber had 15 of those yards on one carry, which should tell you how good the other 7 were. The last drive of the game the Cowboys ran the ball to Barber more than once was their first of the 3rd quarter. Result was a touchdown. I have no explanation for why they so willingly gave up on the run, but it wasn't working even before they did, whatever Davis has to say about it.
- Cliches continue: Run the ball well. Final damage was 161 ground yards for 4.4 yards per carry, highlighted by a monster game from Clinton Portis for 121 yards on 21 carries (5.76 YPC). This is the kind of drive that would give die hard old school coaches orgasms:
|1-10-WAS 34||(10:16) 26-C.Portis left guard to WAS 37 for 3 yards (94-D.Ware).|
|2-7-WAS 37||(9:38) 26-C.Portis up the middle to WAS 48 for 11 yards (25-P.Watkins).|
|1-10-WAS 48||(8:58) 26-C.Portis right end to DAL 39 for 13 yards (55-Z.Thomas).|
|1-10-DAL 39||(8:18) 17-J.Campbell pass short right to 47-C.Cooley pushed ob at DAL 33 for 6 yards (98-G.Ellis). Pass complete off play-action and roll right.|
|2-4-DAL 33||(7:43) 46-L.Betts left tackle to DAL 31 for 2 yards (94-D.Ware; 55-Z.Thomas).|
|Timeout #1 by WAS at 06:58.|
|3-2-DAL 31||(6:58) (Shotgun) 26-C.Portis up the middle to DAL 31 for no gain (94-D.Ware). PENALTY on DAL, Defensive 12 On-field, 5 yards, enforced at DAL 31 - No Play.|
|1-10-DAL 26||(6:32) 26-C.Portis right end to DAL 25 for 1 yard (96-M.Spears).|
|2-9-DAL 25||(5:52) 46-L.Betts left tackle to DAL 18 for 7 yards (72-S.Bowen).|
|3-2-DAL 18||(5:07) 46-L.Betts right guard to DAL 16 for 2 yards (99-C.Canty; 96-M.Spears).|
|1-10-DAL 16||(4:22) 46-L.Betts left guard to DAL 16 for no gain (96-M.Spears).|
|2-10-DAL 16||(3:37) 26-C.Portis right guard to DAL 12 for 4 yards (55-Z.Thomas).|
|Timeout #2 by DAL at 03:30.|
|3-6-DAL 12||(3:30) 26-C.Portis up the middle to DAL 11 for 1 yard (97-J.Hatcher).|
|Timeout #3 by DAL at 03:26.|
|4-5-DAL 11||(3:26) (Field Goal formation) 6-S.Suisham 29 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-67-E.Albright, Holder-14-D.Brooks.|
|WAS 26 DAL 17 Plays: 12 Possession: 6:54|
When this drive begins, the Redskins are up by one touchdown and there's a whole lot of game left. When it ends, seven minutes later, the Redskins are up by two possessions and that's all she wrote.
- Give your secondary a round of applause. If you had told me, prior to the game, that the Redskins would have zero sacks and still win, I'd have laughed. Shawn Springs had what we might colloquially refer to as a "statement game" that statement being: I am a bad ass shutdown corner and I piss excellence routinely. Terrell Owens was silenced by Springs in the first quarter, who did exactly as I'd asked by painting himself all over T.O. The final damage from Owens was 71 yards and a touchdown (12 of which came against prevent defense at the end of the game), not a bad day by most measures, unless you consider that he was targeted 17 or 18 times on the day. He did not have a 20 yard reception. There are no easy solutions to a player as good as Terrell Owens unless you have an incredible player to line up against him, and we do. Shawn Springs is incredible. Anyone who doubts how important he is to this defense has just to recall the horrible shit storm that was 2006 and realize he was the missing link. It wasn't the presence of Adam Archuleta (which we fixed) but rather the absence of Springs for much of the year that did us in. He is the most talented player on the defense. (Fred Smoot you played great, too.)
- Rest of the guys played great too. Carlos Rogers was good and bad but not so much of the latter to make me wince. Chris Horton had the pick and continues to find the ball, making him cliche numero tres: "playmaker". Marcus Washington got beat by miles on the Jason Witten touchdown but besides that the linebackers played ok. Witten had a big game but the reality is you can't stop all the people on the Cowboys offense. You shut down Owens (relatively speaking) and Marion Barber and Felix Jones -- not necessarily by anything we did, mind you -- and you've got a good chance to beat them. We beat them.
- So a crazy thing happened. Doghouse Durant Brooks is insecure about his job security, shows up in someone else's house against probably the best punter in the NFL, and outplays Mat McBriar. Final damage was: Brooks 4 punts for 42.8 yards average with two touchbacks, long of 60. McBriar: 6 punts, 39 yards average, only one touchback, 59 long. Welcome to the team, rook.
- What a toolbox this guy Skin Patrol is going to spend all this recap talking about the punter and kicker? You bet I am. You beat the Cowboys by 2 points on the road and it all comes down to: If Suisham misses one of those four kicks we lose. You can have this phenomenally played game otherwise that hinges on whether Suisham is going to go 4/4. His kickoffs were good too.
- ALL HAIL SPECIAL TEAMS I WILL NEVER SHUT UP ABOUT IT. Kick and punt coverage units were both flawless. Pacman Jones returned three punts for an average of 4 yards. Felix Jones averaged 13 yards per return on kickoffs. Underewoks need to find ways to win and winning on special teams is how you go about doing that.
- Jason Campbell is the quarterback of the future. He will no doubt stumble at some point in the future and throw an interception. He is not without flaws, he is simply playing that way through 1/4th of the season. Having said that, I'm a believer, I've seen enough, Jason Campbell has what it takes to lead this team to sustained success for the foreseeable future. And he's playing well because he cliche alert protects the football. This time last year he would've fumbled the ball six times and lost it seven (check my math on that). We all speculated that Jim Zorn would be great for Campbell, indeed that was the only aspect of Zorn that few of us wondered about, and it's been true. Joe Gibbs placed a huge emphasis on protecting the football but it has been his successor who has somehow convinced this team not to fumble or give away the ball. He's completing 67% of his passes. NFL, you're on notice.
- Also on notice regarding our head coach, who is as real a deal as anyone right now. No offense to the past, this wasn't a Monday Night Miracle. Jim Zorn went into the devil's house and beat them without theatrics or requisite belief in unlikelihoods. This wasn't a game dominated by the loser for all but one quarter. Coach Zorn found a way to get the most out of his players at a time when the rest of the world was expecting the least out of them, and for that he should get 10 strong Hail To The Redskins. I saw him doing hip hip hoorays or some other nonsense after the game. As lame as a hip hip hooray is, I don't care what he says so long as we win.
- And we did win how 'bout that.
- Santana Moss eleventy four million yards on 8 catches bla bla bla this thing can't go on forever. I'd go line item down our roster praising the team because so many people did so many of the little and big things right for us to win this game. This was huge on so many levels, I'm really speechless. I am without speech.
Someone save me here in the comments section, my fingers hurt.