1. Happy Victory Monday, y'all! OUR Washington Redskins stole one at the buzzer yesterday, and wake up this morning with a 3-4 record at the bye. You know what this means?!?!?!?! It means that the Washington Redskins have won AT LEAST three games every year for the last...uhhh...well, just kidding. What it means is that the Redskins are one game out of first place in a division that is WAAAAAAAAY up for grabs. Heading into the game against the Buccaneers, I wasn't allowing myself to get excited about a two-win team about to play against a rookie quarterback for a squad that came into our house last year and spanked us. I was optimistic of course.
2. Once the Redskins got down by 24 points, there was a sense in the stands that "we have seen this movie before." The boobirds were out in full force and it just, well, felt terrible. But it was still early...in the first half! Even down 24, I know I was joined by many of you in thinking, "Either we are about to get beaten 50-0, or we are going to go on offense and turn this thing around." There was so much time left...and there was no way in my mind that the Buccaneers had 50 points in them. When the Redskins made it 24-7, my blood pressure equalized and I began to see this game as the potential nail-biter it was going to be. That one touchdown got it all started. When Kirk Cousins crossed the goal line, I felt equal parts "not gonna be a shutout/we can do this three or four more times."
3. I suppose it bears mentioning that the penalties committed by the Bucs were reminiscent of how parents who are getting divorced just shower the kids with ridiculous presents in an attempt to both defy logic and one-up the previous gift. The parade of penalties were as untimely as they were numerous. I mean...16 penalties for 142 yards. The gifts came in all sizes too! There were the drive-extending defensive penalties (can't cheat), there were the drive-crushing offensive penalties (wanna cheat, can't cheat), and there was even a touchdown-erasing penalty (DYING to cheat...can't cheat). The Bucs are going to need to enter into penalty rehab after yesterday.
4. How about that third quarter? It was EASILY our best third quarter of the season. We controlled the ball, scored points and generally refrained from the active pants-soiling we have been committed to in third quarters so far this season. I was genuinely upset when time expired. It was like that scene from "Rounders" when Matt Damon looks at Teddy KGB and tells him, "I could go on busting you up all night." As long as that third quarter could have lasted, we would have just kept on scoring. At the beginning of the frame though, was I the only one wetting my pants? With the Bucs set to take over on offense to get the second half started, I think everyone in my section was saying the same thing at FedEx: the game was on the line. Five plays, zero yards...and it was on.
5. Please don't sleep on the play Bashaud Breeland made at the end of the fourth quarter on the stop that kept Doug Martin out of the end zone. If Martin finishes off that run and takes it across the goal line, the Redskins are 2-5 and beginning "evaluation mode." Breeland was injured on the play, but his teammates finished the series strong, forcing the Bucs to settle for three points. I foolishly try to boil games down to one or two plays, despite my belief that one play NEVER decides a game. It is not about a play that wins or loses a game, rather, it's about a play that defines a game. What better way to define yesterday's game than one of our best players tracking down our opponent from behind and keeping him from putting the nail in our coffin? Believe me when I tell you that all over the league, players take that play off. Backside players pull up. Exhausted players pull up. Don't get me wrong, Breeland doesn't get paid to pull up, but his efforts should not be painted as simply, "That's his job." It's not quite Lavar Arrington taking an interception back the other way when the Redskins are 0-5 and in full-blown desperation (Hail Schottenheimer!). It's not quite that...but it was a big play full of heart that had a huge impact on the outcome. I guess most importantly, it was just a moment that held great personal meaning, and I ask if anyone else felt like that while watching it. To be certain, there was work to do after that play was completed, but Breeland inspired me on that one.
6. We spend a lot of time around here talking about how there are no good losses. VERY similarly, there are no bad wins. Take a look around the league. Good teams squeak by bad teams. Mediocre teams blow out decent teams. Great players look ordinary. Unknown players emerge as superstars. It is an incredible era for the NFL when you think about the myriad of potential outcomes every week. I am not saying we are the New England Patriots. Damn...was going to try and enjoy this win longer before invoking the name of our next opponent. We are certainly going to need to make great use of the bye week in our preparation for the Patriots. Let's hold off on any kind of expectations at this point for that game. We deserve to bask a few days in this victory. One thing I will say, "If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best." It's still 11-on-11, ten yards at a time. (That won't prevent us from being 56-point underdogs!) My biggest feeling about the next stretch on our schedule--inclusive of the bye week--is that we should be desperate to play teams like New England. We should be ecstatic to get Carolina and New Orleans squads that are at the tops of their games. That is how we should want to measure ourselves. That is how we are going to parlay this feeling we have today into something that matters in December. I am optimistic of course.