1. As I said last week, a win against the Titans would prompt the same kind of head-scratching we have engaged in after losses. I don't think we played so well that we should wonder where that kind of performance was a week earlier. But our heart and grittiness on the road yesterday would have been nice to see--for example--in St. Louis earlier this season. I also think that Vick's showing against us has kind of gained some luster since last week and is increasingly being considered as a kind of "perfect game" for the Philly quarterback. Listening to people talk about it, you are left with the impression that the outcome would have been the same regardless of Vick's opponent. My thinking last week was that this team--without any real sense of itself at this stage of the season--could bounce back from the Philly game a lot easier than say, a team that had been rolling and got shellacked like that. It was clear that the loss to Philly was not a factor on the field. Either way, for my 10-6 prognostication to have any chance, I needed that win. (Kevin, I am not budging on my 10-6 call one bit.)
2. The Titans hurt themselves a lot with the penalties. But I would not characterize the outcome as more of a situation where Tennessee lost as opposed to Washington won. The shenanigans in overtime were...helpful to our cause. Tennessee played poorly for stretches and Rusty Smith is not the guy Tennessee wants to give the ball to in a tight game in the 4th Quarter. If you want to point to something that suggests we did some things to win the game and didn't just rely on being the benefactor of a team playing poorly against us, try these:
- Fred Davis refusing to go down after the catch
- Chris Cooley factoring huge in the 4th quarter
- Santana Moss executing a beautiful outside move to get enough space to catch a well-placed throw by Don Burgundy for a score
- Graham Gano staying strong and focusing on the big kick
3. This one is a biggie for me. I understand the concept of winning ugly. We all do. It is pretty much our signature style of winning. I have heard the slightest bit of complaining about this in 2010. I will attribute some of it to the fact that we are just pointing out the obvious. But let me be clear when I say that the Washington Redskins and their fanbase have ZERO right to find ways to poo-poo wins. I will stop short of suggesting we should be happy to play poorly in a victory. But wins have come so hard for us in recent seasons (decades) that winning ugly is not just acceptable, it is joyous. There is something about a franchise like ours having to consistently taste and feel how hard it is to win in this league on a week in and week out basis that we should be embracing. Not every team needs to win ugly on the way up. Ours does. We need to rediscover that ravenous hunger that it takes to win in this league. Aside from a couple of late-season runs by Gibbs in his second tenure, that kind of intensity has escaped the burgundy and gold. Think about the games this season decided not just at the end of the game, but on the last play. Of course you don't want that kind of trend to continue for a whole season or longer, but the ability to come out on top of those contests is something you can build a team around. In fact, I would argue that it is the exact thing we have lacked for a very, very long time.
4. OK..the injuries...wow. So you wanted the Redskins to overhaul the offensive line? Check. So you wanted to see what this team would look like without Clinton Portis, Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach...Devin Thomas? Check. Kudos for showing up on Sunday with some O-line depth. Dressing more than one backup worked out nicely. This is another positive to take away from the win. This is another thing you can point to and say, "The Redskins overcame some things in this game that could have easily been excuses to lose."
5. Logan Paulsen's hair is really starting to become a story. I have kept it off the pages for as long as I can, but it has caught my attention to the point where I can not be silent on the topic any longer. My only hangup on the hair right now is that it seems to either naturally kind of twirl into a ponytail or he is doing it on purpose. If he is doing the ponytail on purpose, I applaud the bravery but disapprove of the style. There has to be a product on the market out there that causes the hair to look and act crazier than his seems to right now. Logan's hairstyle and his future spot on this team and in our hearts are now officially intertwined.
6. I love the screen plays we ran yesterday. That was good coaching coming to the forefront. Against an aggressive defense ranked near the top of the league in sacks, the screens we worked in were successful. It is a small step in the right direction for an offense looking to figure out who it is. With Fred Davis, Chris Cooley, Santana Moss and Mike Sellers complementing whatever running back is on the field, we have a lot of screen options. This should be a staple of our attack from here on out. And I mean for years...not just the rest of the season. There should not be a drive that ends without an attempted screen. If we are serious about having athletic lineman that move, this play should be right up our alley.
Bonus Floater: Kory Lichtensteiger, you diabolical genius! Your whiff on a block out ahead of a screen play in the second half made me so upset that I had to eat an entire extra rack of ribs just to soothe myself. But your play in overtime where you put your helmet in the way of that guys hand and got us 15 yards was simply brilliant! I don't know if Dockery could have made that play.