clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The 5 O'Clock Club: This week’s difference maker

New, comments

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

This is the first time I’ve awarded the ‘difference maker’ following a loss. In some ways it doesn’t feel right. I’ve thought about possibly awarding it to the player who contributed most to the loss; this week would have definitely been Preston Smith if I’d gone that direction.

But this was too gutty an effort by the whole team. The Redskins didn’t win, but they didn’t fold like a cheap suit either. They went toe-to-toe with the team that is currently the best in the league, and with 4 seconds left in the ball game the score was all tied up. They were 50 seconds and one dropped pass away from possibly the biggest upset of the week. As I’m typing this, the weekly Power Rankings haven’t yet been published, but I’m expecting most of them to move us closer to the top of the list after this brutal heavyweight fight on Monday night. Looking at NFL.com, who had the Redskins at #7, directly behind the Eagles, after the huge win against the Raiders, every team between the Chief and the Eagles lost this weekend bar the Lions. By the time this ‘club’ post goes up, the Week 5 Power Rankings will be about 18 hours old, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Elliott Harrison move the ‘Skins up to the #4, 5 or 6 spot following this loss. I’m thinking it may look something like: Chiefs, Lions, Eagles, Packers, Redskins, Steelers, Rams...

(As it turns out Harrison dropped the ‘Skins two spots to #9, but he had some nice comments about the team that are consistent with what I’m trying to communicate)

Not much of a drop for the Redskins. The record is worse than a couple of the teams behind them in this league hierarchy, though the .500 mark isn't indicative of the way they're playing. Jay Gruden's guys are competing hard. Literally. The defense, including the smallish defensive backs, are laying wood on every play. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has them running around like a pack of wild dogs making tackles. The issue Monday night was that Manusky ended up a couple cans short of a six-pack. Josh Norman went down. Then two more corners got hurt. Two safeties, too. Three linebackers exited at one time or another. Really, it's amazing the Redskins stayed afloat. They darn-near won, too.

But I digress. A lot.

I was talking about a difference maker for the Monday night game.

Because of the nature of this loss, I feel like the difference maker should be awarded to the player who did the most to put the team in a position to take the lead with less than a minute to play in the game.

I’m looking straight at the starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins. He started the week by becoming a father, and that could have been a huge distraction, but he came out firing. Kirk led the team to a huge touchdown on the opening drive of the game, throwing a perfect pass to Pryor to grab the early momentum.

He hit Vernon Davis with another strike in the third quarter that went for around 70 yards, and led to another Washington touchdown a few plays later.

That second touchdown came on a good throw and excellent catch by Ryan Grant.

The only real criticism was that the wounded defense had just come off the field following a 13-play KC drive, and ended up on the field for another 14-play drive immediately after. So although it was a 10-7 quarter, the Redskin 1:38 touchdown drive had the effect of wearing down the burgundy & gold defense.

Taking the field down by 3 points with 4:57 left in the game, Kirk had the chance to command a career-defining drive in Arrowhead stadium on Monday Night Football against the undefeated Chiefs. 1st & 10, he hits Pryor for 16 yards.

When it was 3rd & 8 from the Washington 43, Kirk scrambled for 10 yards, diving head first across midfield and getting a fresh set of downs.

Two plays later, on 2nd & 8, Kirk did it again, scrambling 15 yards to the Chiefs 30-yard-line, putting the team into field goal range.

The next play, Kirk scrambled for 8 yards, exploiting the man defense for the third time in four plays, setting up the Redskins with a 2nd & 2 at the KC 22.

Whatever you think of the play calling from this point, Kirk did his job. After the second down run got stuffed, on 3rd & 2 Cousins threw a perfect pass to Josh Doctson, who was in one-on-one coverage in the back of the end zone — the kind of play they spent the entire offseason preparing for. Doctson high-pointed the ball, and came down in the end zone with it, and in Bangkok, I lept off my sofa with a war whoop. It looked like Cousins had thrown the go-ahead touchdown, leaving about 50 seconds on the clock for the Chiefs to have to score a touchdown.

Of course it was not to be. Doctson couldn’t hold onto the ball and the Chiefs kicker sealed the victory with just seconds remaining in the game.

But with no sacks, no fumbles, no interceptions, two touchdown passes, two scrambles for first down in the 4-minute offense on the final drive of the game, and a beautiful pass to Josh Doctson for what should have been his third TD pass of the game and the potential game winner, against a talented Chiefs defense playing in the hostile environs of Arrowhead Stadium on a Monday Night in in font of a fired-up crowd, I see Kirk Cousins as the difference maker for this brutal game.

I’ve never seen an NFL player have a perfect game, but Kirk did most things right on Monday night, didn’t make any blunders to cost the team field position or possession, personally kept the final drive alive with his feet and his arm, and inspired confidence in his teammates in the deafening roar of the Kansas City crowd. Kirk kept the Redskins alive to the end, and gave them a chance to win.

Captain Kirk is this week’s difference maker.

As he said in the post-game press conference, with the bye week upon us, he can go home and hold his son.

Now that’s a real difference maker!

Poll

Which Redskin (individual or group) will be most critical to the outcome of the game against the 49ers?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Kirk Cousins
    (37 votes)
  • 4%
    Jay Gruden
    (5 votes)
  • 8%
    Greg Manusky
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    Bill Callahan
    (1 vote)
  • 9%
    Offensive line
    (11 votes)
  • 6%
    Running backs
    (7 votes)
  • 3%
    Wide Receivers
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Tight ends
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Ryan Kerrigan
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    Preston Smith
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Junior Galette
    (0 votes)
  • 5%
    Defensive Tackles
    (6 votes)
  • 9%
    Defensive backs
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    Zach Brown / Inside Linebackers
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Dustin Hopkins
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Tress Way
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Jamison Crowder (punt returner)
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Kick Returners
    (0 votes)
  • 8%
    Redskins trainers and doctors
    (9 votes)
  • 3%
    Quinton Dunbar/Fabian Moreau
    (4 votes)
112 votes total Vote Now