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Washington's winless streak at home continues, but there are still positives to be found after five games.
1. I have had numerous opportunities in recent years to state my opinion that there is no such thing as a good loss. I do believe that there are always places to look for positives regardless of the outcome, but last week's triumph over the Buccaneers proved to us just how precious and important wins are. There is nothing good about a loss, no matter how close you came to beating a good team. There is nothing easy about a loss, no matter how much practice you have dealing with them. On the bright side, we were in that game, weren't we? I choose to remember that feeling from yesterday's game more than the sting of the loss.
2. I wrote last week about the winless streak at FedEx. It is up to eight games and well over a calendar year. This we know. But I find it incredibly impressive that despite this ongoing crisis at home, the faithful in Landover were a part of that game from the opening kickoff. I had a close friend get married in Massachusetts on Saturday night and so I missed my first home game in quite a while, but I was able to pick up the radio broadcast moments before the game started. I made it home about halfway into the first quarter. The stadium was full and loud. If you are one of our readers that don't get to regularly attend games at FedEx, you might not realize how much psychology is involved in the effort to act like each and every game is the Super Bowl. The cumulative effect of the losing streak shows itself in the second half, when fans spend more time at the concourse bars or make their way back to their tailgates prior to the final whistle. This fanbase continues to get up off the mat after each home loss and put its full weight behind the team we love, but it bears mentioning that this has become an increasingly difficult task.
3. Like most of you, I was very impressed with our defense. That was a defensive performance we can build on. The way our offense was playing leading up to this game, you'd think we could win a game only giving up 24 points. When you have to pick your poison from a smorgasbord of poisons, sometimes you end up with "Death By Gonzalez." If you glanced at some of Atlanta's offensive statistics, you would likely assume they scored more than 24 points. Whether you call it "bend but don't break" or not, the fact is our defense played well enough to win that game. That is a great improvement in a season that will be largely judged on improvement from here on out.
4. I particularly loved the stop we made to force the field goal to tie it at 17 in the third quarter. There was a tackle made by Perry Riley on Tony Gonzalez to prevent a first down that frankly we weren't making in the games throughout September. That play sticks out in my mind even after the loss. We weren't always able to put the clamps down on the many options Atlanta had at its disposal, but this play was an example of our ability to make a play at a crucial moment. This play stands out to me even more than Kerrigan's touchdown...maybe because that was just Ryan being Ryan!
5. I'll stay on the positive train and echo something I found myself saying a lot yesterday: Did you see Lorenzo Alexander? "One Man Gang" was getting after it. There are many bright spots on this team this season, despite our losing record. The play of Lorenzo has been one of them for me.
6. Since he played, I think it's only fair I get to talk about Kirk Cousins. As always, please allow me to preface any and all Cousins discussion with my customary "Griffin is clearly the best quarterback on this team." None of us wants to see Griffin on the sidelines at crucial moments of fourth quarters, but given the way he has been taking hits lately, it seemed inevitable that we would get our first glimpse of Kirk Cousins sooner rather than later. On one hand, he played in much the same fashion as many normal rookie quarterbacks are expected to play. You could see Atlanta's defense playing for rookie errors. On the other hand, I have to admit I was impressed. Sure, the two interceptions were not great plays. Both seemed to be at least partly due to Cousins and his receivers having little feel for each other, though both picks could have likely been avoided. When Cousins came into game, my first thought was, "Well, it's official. We are playing our first offensive football without Bobby G. Who had Week Five in the pool?" I was not nervous about Captain Kirk taking over, though. I knew he was going to think his way into some completions and give receivers a chance to make him look right. The deep ball to Santana Moss was just awesome.
These are the times we live in--two rookie quarterbacks, a defense trying to figure out how to maximize the talent it possesses, an offensive line that has played as well as I could have hoped thus far, a tough rookie running back and a kicker that will likely be watching NFL games from his living room very soon. I really did think this team had 3-2 in them. The chance to even out our record to 3-3 stands before us. Join me in getting off the mat yet again.