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Washington's Signs Of Life Confiscated By Falcons In 31-17 Defeat

As awful as the first half was to watch, the second half was that much fun. Far be it for me to proclaim this team to be a contender, but in the second half, there was some actual football being played by the guys wearing white-on-white. It was uncanny how much more successful our offense was after the halftime break. Screen passes worked, the running game was churning up the yards, and there were no drive-killing penalties that caused me to scream.

It is easy to say the game was decided in the first half. But the truth is that when we gave the Falcons the ball back down 24-17, there was every reason to believe that a win was possible. That was the high point of the game for Redskins fans, and whether you want to call it sad or depressing, it may have been the high point of the season so far. Being in a game against a good team with the momentum going our way is a feeling we have not had around here for some time. As we find ourselves squarely in the middle of what promises to be a difficult season to stomach, this is a feeling/moment I won't take for granted.

Trying to look back at that first half and make some sense of it is like attaching a grenade to your scrotum and hoping for the best. It just didn't go well. We gave up big plays on defense, we gave up big plays on offense and we committed penalties that turned into points for them. The only thing missing from the first half was a hundred dollar bill on the night stand.

There was no reason to hope for anything different in the second half. But when our offense took the field and drove 80 yards for a score, I thought to myself, "This I can watch. If we lose, so be it, but this is actual football and this is worth staying tuned into." The subsequent stop by our defense was great and when we pulled to within a touchdown I could not have been the only one thinking the win was in our sights. Rock Cartwright and Ladell Betts were rolling. As if by magic, our offensive line opened up holes they were able to run through and we mounted honest-to-God drives.

Ultimately, once again the team did not do enough for 60 minutes to win the game. The foolish penalties from our $150+ million off-season acquisitions (Hall and Haynesworth) were gut-wrenchingly bad. Haynesworth's pair of offsides penalties were great bookends to the Falcons' opening drive that set the tone of the game early. Hall's battle royale with the entire Atlanta sideline would have been more upsetting if it wasn't so easy to see coming. It reminds me immediately of the line from last week's Parks and Recreation episode where Ron Swanson describes his relationship with his ex-wife. "We are oil an water. Or oil and TNT and C4 and a detonator and a butane torch." That sums up DeAngelo Hall's relationship with the Falcons I guess. Good thing we aren't playing the Raiders this season. Oh crap. LaRon Landry seemed to manufacture sloppiness at times, and once again, the opponent took advantage of the cushion we insist on giving every receiver in the league.

On a higher note, Jason Campbell refused to give up on the game despite being knocked out of it twice. His ability to keep soldiering up as the world crumbles around him is remarkable. The question that comes to my mind is will we ever get to really judge his football abilities behind a legitimate line for an extended period of time? You can question him on any number of fronts these days, but you can't question his toughness and you can't question his commitment to his teammates. Another bright spot on the day for me was Brian Orakpo getting to Matt Ryan. The kid proved yet again that he is an extremely capable pass rusher.

We came up short in the end but there was at least the hint of an air of respectability after that second half. Respectability doesn't get us in the playoffs, but it does make watching the games a lot more fun. I'll end with the stat breakdown below. What number stands out to you? Four 1st downs from penalties! That plus the defensive touchdown Atlanta scored stick out most for me, as I am sure they do for you guys as well. I mean, look at these numbers. We were in this game.

Team Stat Comparison
1st Downs 17 18
Passing 1st downs
11 6
Rushing 1st downs
6 8
1st downs from Penalties
0 4
3rd down efficiency
9-16 4-11
4th down efficiency
1-3 0-0
Total Plays 64 54
Total Yards 312 306
Passing 176 125
19-27 17-24
Yards per pass
6.5 5.2
Rushing 136 181
Rushing Attempts
32 27
Yards per rush
4.3 6.7
Red Zone (Made-Att) 2-2 1-2
Penalties 10-88 7-54
Turnovers 1 1
Fumbles lost
0 0
Interceptions thrown
1 1
Defensive / Special Teams TDs 0 1
Possession 33:32 26:28