Under the bright lights of a Sunday Night Football national broadcast, the Redskins defeated the Green Bay Packers 42-24 in a dominating offensive display. With the win, the Redskins improve their record to 6-3-1, and kept pace in the competitive NFC East race. With the loss, the Packers fell to 4-6 and were dealt a crushing blow to their playoff hopes.
Given Green Bay's stretch of late, this was a tremendously important game for the visitors, who entered the weekend on the wrong side of .500, losers in four of their last five contests. They came to Landover fresh off an embarrassing 47-25 loss to the Tennessee Titans, and still trail behind the Vikings and Lions in the tight, but winnable NFC North division.
The contest had tremendous meaning for the Redskins, as they to sought to excise past demons: to defeat Green Bay after falling to them in the divisional round of the 2015 playoffs, and to shift the narrative away from their historical inability to win in primetime games. Over Washington's last sixteen attempts in such contests, they have only recorded three victories. With wins earlier in the day by the Cowboys and Giants, the Redskins sought to hold serve and not fall any farther back in the division standings as the final stretch of the season looms on the horizon.
With the wind swirling and the temperature hovering just above freezing at kickoff, both teams struggled to get things going offensively, as each of the first three possessions ended with three-and-outs, two by the Packers and one by the Redskins. Finally, after picking up three first downs on their second drive of the game, the Redskins were forced to punt and the Packers then turned the ball over on downs once again.
After the first eight minutes of the contest, Green Bay still had only picked up two total yards of offense. It was also the first time since 2010 that the Packers had not picked up a first down over their first three drives, and also the first time in Aaron Rodgers' career that that the Packers have gone 3-and-out on their first 3 drives of the game.
On their third offensive possession, the Redskins showed a little more get up and go, with a mix of run and pass, capping off a 8-play, 55-yard drive with Kirk Cousins connecting with DeSean Jackson down the middle of the field for a 17-yard pitch-and-catch to give Washington the 7-0 lead with 2:56 left in the first quarter. The score was just Jackson’s second of the year.
To start the second quarter, the Packers were aided by a hands to the face penalty on Bashaud Breeland on 3rd down, (a penalty committed 30 yards away from the action of the play…) to extend their drive inside the Washington 35-yard line.
On 4th and 2 Rodgers kept it on the ground and extended the drive into the redzone. Facing a 3rd-and-goal on their 17th play of the drive, following a Ty Montgomery touchdown that was called back due to a holding call, Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for what was somehow ruled a catch in the back of the endzone. The touchdown capped off a 75 yard drive that lasted 8:29, and brought the teams even at 7 apiece.
The Redskins promptly went three and out, putting a tired defensive unit back out on the field. Following a first down catch by James Starks, Josh Norman was whistled for delay of game for spiking the football in frustration after not being granted a fumble recovery. The penalty was Norman’s 11th of the year, the most of any player in the NFL.
The defense stood up strong as Ryan Kerrigan was left unblocked and picked up a third down sack at the 20 yard line, his 8th of the season.
The Packers were held to a 36-yard Mason Crosby Field goal to take a 10-7 lead with 3:37 left in the first half.
Washington sought to respond, and Kirk Cousins found Jordan Reed down the middle of the field for a 26-yard gain, followed by a Rob Kelly run to the Packers 37, to get to the two-minute warning. Out of the break, Reed picked up back-to-back catches to advance to the 18-yard line. After a Jamison Crowder catch, Rob Kelly marched up the gut off the back hip of Shawn Lauvao in for the score.
Washington went for two, but Chris Thompson’s run up the middle was stopped short. With 39 seconds remaining in the first half, Washington regained the lead, 13-10. On the drive the Redskins spanned 8 plays and 75 yards over 2:58.
The Redskins out-gained the Packers 171 to 127 yards in the first half, though Green Bay dominated time of possession 18:04 to 11:56.
A Jordan Reed 38-yard catch moved the ball into Packers territory on Washington’s opening drive of the second half. After moving inside the 20-yard line, Cousins was brought down by Julius Peppers for the sack, setting up a Dustin Hopkins 37-yard field goal to bring the lead to 16-10.
On the ensuing kick off, the Packers return unit let the ball thud at the two-yard line, and but for a Richard Rodgers sprawling recovery the Redskins nearly could have scored off the mistake.
After nearly pinning the Packers back along their goal line, Rodgers continued his impressive day, finding Jared Cook for 47 yards into Washington territory.
Once again, the defense bent but did not break as they forced Mason Crosby to attempt a 36-yard field goal that was pushed wide left due to the windy conditions, and the Washington lead remained 6 with 5:34 left in the third.
On 3rd and 11 from the Packers 44-yard line, Cousins once again came through in the clutch and delivered another dart down the center of the field to Jamison Crowder for the score, another failed two-point conversion left the score at 22-10 with 2:00 left in the third. The drive spanned 7 plays, 74 yards over 3:34 of play time.
On the first play of the 4th quarter from the Redskins 31-yard line, James Starks found himself all alone in the flat and a blown coverage let him walk in untouched down the sideline to make it a one score game. Crosby’s extra point made it 22-17.
Not to be outdone, Cousins started the next drive by quickly going over the top to -- where else? — down the middle of the field, this time to Pierre Garcon for 70 yards. Jay Gruden opted to send on the kicking unit to attempt the PAT, and Dustin Hopkins made it 29-17 with 14:25 remaining in the contest.
On the play, Kirk Cousins topped the 300 yard mark for the 17th time of his career, passing Sonny Jurgensen for the most 300-yard games in franchise history.
Poor tackling by Donte Whitner allowed Randall Cobb to spin off the hit on 3rd and 13, as he advanced 47 yards down in the Washington territory. Rodgers capped off the drive with a slant pass to Jared Cook on 1st and goal from the 6, as the Packers brought it back to within 5, 29-24 with 10:04 left in regulation.
With 6:22 left on the clock, facing a 4th and 1 from their own 41 yard line, and up by just five points, Jay Gruden opted to roll the dice and had Kirk Cousins go for the QB sneak up the middle. The gamble paid off as Cousins moved the sticks and allowed the offense to eat up valuable time while giving the defense a rest. Facing a 3rd and 7 from their own 47 yard line, the Cousins' Coming Out Party continued as he stretched the field and connected with Jamison Crowder for 53 yard gain, all the way down to the Packers half yard line.
Robert Kelley picked up his second score of the night to cap of the 81-yard drive. Hopkins doinked the ball of the right upright for the 12th missed extra point of the day across the NFL, but the Redskins led by 11, 35-24 with 3:54 remaining.
The Packers began to threaten several short passes with long runs, marching down to the Washington 28, but Josh Norman stripped Cook and Will Compton pounced on top of the ball for the first turnover of the day for either team.
that Josh Norman punch >>> pic.twitter.com/d2KjkmJGnO— Danny (@recordsANDradio) November 21, 2016
Kelley took it in between the tackles for 68 yards against an injury depleted interior defense, then cut back on first and goal from the four, picking up his third rushing score of the game and to salt away the victory.
Daniel Snyder dancing to 'Jump Around' pic.twitter.com/7sjkI0Xbvo— Danny (@recordsANDradio) November 21, 2016
Washington’s offense extended their streak of going over 300 yards in 14 straight games which matches their stretch from 2012-13. Additionally, they have now churned out five consecutive 100-yard games on the ground for the first time since a five-game stretch that extended from the end of the 2014 season to the beginning of 2015.
Also impressive was the 10/15 stat line on 3rd and 4th downs, while recording 29 points in five redzone attempts -- two areas that the team has been in need of improvement over the past several weeks.
Kirk Cousins finished 21/ 30 for 375 yards with 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. On the night, he also became the sixth quarterback in team history to record back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons (Sonny Jurgensen, 1966-67; Joe Theismann, 1983-84; Mark Rypien, 1991-92; Jason Campbell, 2008-09; Robert Griffin III, 2012-13), and the seventh quarterback in Redskins history to pass for 10,000 yards
Leading the receivers was Pierre Garcon who racked up 6 grabs for 116 yards and a score. He tallied a number of new record marks, extending his streak of consecutive regular season games with a reception to 95 — the sixth-longest active stretch in the NFL, became the become the 15th player in Redskins history to post 20 touchdown receptions with the team, and also became the 11th player to record 4,000 receiving yards as a member of the Redskins.
Pierre also clearly had some strong feelings about dairy-based headwear:
Fam... the cheese head did NOTHING to you pic.twitter.com/FiBq165pVn— Tony X. (@soIoucity) November 21, 2016
Martrell Spaight picked up the first interception of his career in mop up duty to help seal the victory, while both Chris Baker and Ryan Kerrigan tallied sacks. Kerrigan joined Jared Allen, Derrick Thomas, DeMarcus Ware and Reggie White as the only players to register at least 7.5 sacks in each of his first six seasons on an NFL career.
After a week in which his personal life was under the microscope and was a major headline in the public eye, Aaron Rodgers posted a stellar performance in the loss, going 26/41 for 351 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.
Hosting their best record through 10 games since 1996, the Redskins will have a short week to get their preparations in order for the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving this upcoming Thursday, but we now have a game that after tonight lends credence to our Hogs Haven season-long mantra of #MakeThanksgivingMatter.