Fresh off a prime time win last Sunday night, the Redskins looked to make it two in a row on a national stage on the road against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs in their first of two Monday Night appearances in 2017.
The matchup was the Redskins’ first time facing AFC West opponents in consecutive weeks for the first time since facing the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers in back-to-back games in Weeks 8-9 of the 2013 season
The first quarter went the Redskins way out of the chute. Jay Gruden committed to the run with a fresh-looking Robert Kelley coming of the shelf at tailback, leading the way with 3 rushes for 19 yards. The offense struck quickly capitalizing on a 44-yard touchdown catch by Terrelle Pryor Sr. to put the Redskins up 7-0 just 3:10 into the ballgame.
It was an emotional moment for...every...single...Redskins...fan...on the planet. Dustin Hopkins added a field goal to make it 10-0 in a first quarter that was all Redskins.
The defense came out ready to play, recording a sack on the first play from scrimmage, making it the 28th consecutive regular season game the ‘Skins defense has brought down the quarterback, dating back to 2015. Washington’s active streak of 28 games cements their position as first in the NFC and second in the NFL, just behind Cincinnati's 32-game mark.
Kirk Cousins stepped up on a fourth down attempt on the following drive and moved inside the Chiefs’ 25-yard-line, before the drive stalled inside the five yard-line and Dustin Hopkins knocked home a glorified PAT from 19-yards out to make it 10-0 with 2:47 left in the first quarter.
On a personal note, I decided to watch the game with friends following a fantasy hockey draft, because that’s the way to watch Monday Night Football, and there is an audible note of relief that the Redskins did not choose to throw a fade route to Josh Doctson inside the red zone.
After driving into Redskins territory to begin the second quarter, Ryan Anderson makes a huge hit on Kareem Hunt, before Matt Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen converged on Alex Smith, knocking the Chiefs out of field goal range and forcing a punt. Everyone here is very excited about the defense. “Where did these guys come from?” someone asks. Tuscaloosa, clearly.
Both teams trade possessions as a healthy argument breaks out over whether or not Tress Way is the best player at his position on the team (he is.)
The Chiefs make their first offensive movement of the ballgame as Travis Kelce caps off a 7-play, 73-yard scoring drive to cut the deficit to 3. Josh Norman exits the game, and Travis Kelce is still a showboating, reality tevelvision-staring glory boy. We all say things we sometimes don’t mean when we’re angry.
After threatening by moving 55 yards in just 49 seconds, advancing into Redskins territory, Harrison Butker missed a 46-yard attempt to send it to halftime with Washington holding onto a 3-point lead.
Despite dominating the first quarter, the Redskins found themselves neck-and-neck statistically through the first half.
The Chiefs begin the second half with the ball, and with Josh Norman in the locker room with an injury, proceed to move into Redskin territory. Aided by a roughing the passer penalty on Junior Galette and a neutral zone infraction by Preston Smith, the Kansas City capitalized on their first drive as Alex Smith walked in from one yard out to take their first lead of the ballgame. The drive spanned 10 plays and 79 yards over 5:40.
Washington would not go quietly into the night. On the first play on the ensuing drive, Vernon Davis rumbled 69 yards into the red zone, before touchdown hawk and teacher’s pet Ryan Grant found pay-dirt to retake a 3-point lead, 17-14.
Vernon Davis is still in the league and still doing things like thispic.twitter.com/iGADqGDlGY— NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) October 3, 2017
With Davis’ catch and run, the 13-year pro and D.C. native, moved past Heath Miller (6,569) for the 10th-most career receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history,
After driving into the red zone once again, the Redskins D stood up and bent but did not break, holding Butker to a 26-yard field goal, his first as a pro. There are lots of Butker jokes to go around, but the fact remains the game is tied at 17 heading to the 4th quarter.
Entering the game’s final stanza with over ten more minutes of offensive possession than Washington, the Chiefs continued to move the ball both on the ground and through the air effectively against an injury-depleted defense.
“Where did these guys come from?” someone asks.
After allowing their fifth first down via penalty, the Redskins defense made another red zone stop resulting in a 32-yard Butker field goal to take a 20-17 lead. The drive extended 14 plays and 65 yards, while the time of possession skewed heavily 36:26 to 18:43 in the home team’s favor.
A well-rested Cousins took over after a lengthy sojourn on the sideline with 4:55 remaining in the game, and moved the ball into Chiefs territory with his feet, picking up first downs over three consecutive running plays.
In a critical 3rd down and 2, a fade route to Doctson was ruled incomplete in the back corner of the end zone. Dustin Hopkins converted from 40 yards out to bring the game back to even at 20 apiece with 47 seconds left in regulation.
Alex Smith continued to show his mobility, breaking from the pocket and connecting with Albert Wilson for 37 yards down to the Washington 34 yard-line, before Butker made up for his first half miss, banging home a 43-yard, game-wining field to put the game up 23-20.
A garbage time lateral turnover mess was picked up by the Chiefs who put the cherry on top with a spread-busting defensive touchdown as time expired to conclude the game at 29-20.
If you took WAS +7 congratulations on the worst beat of all time. pic.twitter.com/KSAy11vNMU— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 3, 2017
Despite flashes of brilliance, the offense struggled at times and were resigned to sideline duty for the majority of the second half. Jamison Crowder was held without a catch, and Chris Thompson was nearly silent in the second half, even after Rob Kelley was removed from the field via injury.
Cousins finished the night 13/33 for 227 yards and 2 TDs, and for the second time this season he was the leading rusher, posting just 7 carries for 38 yards.
Alex Smith went 27/38 for 239 and 1 score. Kareem Hunt topped the century mark, with 101 yards on 21 carries. Travis Kelce finished with 7 catches and 111 receiving yards, the tenth 100-yard receiving game of his five-year career.
On defense, Preston Smith joined Dexter Manley (1985), Charles Mann (1989) and Fred Stokes (1991) as the only Redskins to record a full sack in each of the first four games of a season since the NFL adopted sacks as an official statistic in 1982.
The Redskins posted four or more sacks in consecutive games for the first time since a three-game span in Weeks 15-17 of the 2015 season.
The name of the game for Washington was discipline on defense, allowing five first downs via penalty and 8/13 on third down.
Washington was out-posessed 37:09 to 22:47. They were also flagged seven times to the Chiefs’ three, and granted Kansas City five first downs via penalty.
The Redskins didn’t end the game unscathed, with injuries of varying severity to Quinton Dubnar, Montae Nicholson, Rob Kelley, Trent Williams, Kendall Fuller, and Josh Norman, all of whom will benefit from the early bye week.
The loss drops Washington to 2-2, and leaves them to question what might have been as they head into the bye week. They have an opportunity to nurse their myriad injuries before looking ahead to the San Francisco 49ers back at home on October 15th.