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I felt that there were three players that could potentially have been named the difference maker for the win against the 49ers.
If the Redskins had lost the game
To me, the pivotal point in the game where momentum swung away from the Redskins and to the Niners came late in the second quarter with the Redskins leading 17-0.
Here’s the play-by-play description from NFL.com:
(:48) (Shotgun) 3-C.Beathard pass short middle to 15-P.Garcon to WAS 5 for 8 yards (53-Z.Brown).
PENALTY on WAS-36-D.Swearinger, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 3 yards, enforced at WAS 5.
The Redskins defense got a stop on 3rd & 10 in the Red Zone. Long after the play was over, DJ Swearinger shoved Pierre Garcon in the facemask after the two were trading some verbal sparring.
Instead of kicking a field goal to go to the half 17-3, the 49ers had the ball 1st & goal, and punched it in for a touchdown. The game was now 17-7, and the Niners got the ball back on the kickoff to start the second half.
In a press conference a few days before the game, a reporter asked Gruden about playing against Garcon, and his ability to needle opposing defenses. Gruden mentioned that many of the guys in the defensive backfield had practiced and played with Garcon for years, and they knew about his mouth and attitude. They would, he said, tell the other defensive guys and get them ready.
I guess Swearinger slept through that team meeting, because he lost his composure and made a rookie mistake -- the kind that shouldn’t happen to the captain of the defense. His mistake put an extra 4 points on the board, and more importantly, gave hope and life to a struggling San Fransisco team that had been dominated through most of the game.
Swearinger made a number of good plays, but in a game that should have been a Redskin victory by a wide margin, DJ Swearinger provided the spark that San Fransisco needed to come back against the Redskins. More than the missed Hopkins extra point, more than any missed tackles or dropped passes; this penalty would have been the thing I would have pointed to if the Redskins had lost.
The difference maker on offense
One offensive player stood out in this game.
- Led the team in rushing attempts and rushing yards
- Led the team in receptions and receiving yards
- Runs in the game: 2, 5, 4, 6, -9, 8, 11, 1, 4, 0, -1, -2, -1, 3, 5, -1,
- 1st quarter: catch & run for 23 yards
- 2nd quarter: catch & run for 20 yards
- 2nd quarter: catch & run for 49 yards
- 3rd quarter: catch & run for 13 yards
Chris Thompson absolutely ran over the 49er defense in the first half, and for the game he finished up with 105 yards receiving and 138 yards from scrimmage.
But CT was bottled up as a runner after halftime, and he never found the end zone, though his 4 receptions were all big plays that moved the chains.
Thompson was probably the best offensive player in the game for the Redskins, but he’s not my choice for this week’s difference maker.
This week’s difference maker versus the San Fransisco 49ers
Matt Ioannidis played another great game for the Redskins this week. Let’s see what James Dorsett had to say about his game in his Skins Stats & Snaps article:
Matty I wreaked havoc on yet another opposing backfield on Sunday. He recorded a career-high 1.5 sacks and has now sacked an opposing QB in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. He has at least a half sack in four of the team’s five contests this season.
His solo sack turned a potential Robbie Gould 40-yard field goal into a 47-yarder. Gould then failed to convert on the kick, his first miss of the year. Both of Ioanndis’ sacks came on third down.
He also set new career highs in total pressures (6) and hits (4); he led the team in both categories against the 49ers.
Ioanndis’ 10 quarterback hits on the season ranks tied for 9th in the league. Aaron Donald is the only interior defensive lineman with a better pass rushing productivity score in the entire NFL.
This week’s difference maker, who passes the eye test, playing like a beast, and who has the statistics to back it up (not always easy for a defensive lineman), Matt Ioannidis is the guy who broke down the SF offensive line again and again.
This second year player and former 5th round pick has “made the leap” in 2017 and is Washington’s best defensive lineman. On Sunday, he was my pick for the key difference maker against the San Fransisco 49ers.
Who will be the difference maker next week against the Eagles?
This poll is closed
The offensive line
The tight ends
The wide receivers
The edge rushers
Another defensive back