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The 5 O'Clock Club: Early reactions to the Saints game

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Some stat lines for the offense:

Points scored: 31

Cousins: 22/32, 322 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT

Perine: 23 rushes, 117 yards, 1 TD

Doctson: 4 catches, 81 yards

Crowder: 7 catches, 72 yards

Grant: 59 yards, 1 TD

Thompson: 16 yards, 1 TD

Sprinkle: 1 yard, 1 TD

With 02:38 left in the game, the Redskins had the ball 3rd & 1 with an 8-point lead.

Reading all that, I realize that there’s just no way the ‘Skins could lose the game from that position.

They lost.

Had the Redskins gone to New Orleans and gotten blown out, it would have surprised no one at all. But to have had the game in hand with under 6 minutes to play and lose — that really hurt. The Redskins outplayed the Saints for 54 minutes, and lost the game at the end, giving up back-to-back touchdowns on the final two Saints drives in regulation, then surrendering an easy 2-point conversion to tie the game. In OT, the offense stumbled and the defense bumbled, and the Saints too quickly and too easily kicked a field goal for the win.

Final score: 34-31.

The script for this movie was a familiar one.

  • Swearinger picked off Drew Brees to open the game.
  • The Redskins scored a field goal on their opening drive (they lead the NFL in points scored on the opening offensive drive this season).
  • Washington really controlled the game until around the 2 minute warning in the first half, when they had a 7 point lead, the ball, and a chance to go up by 14 points at the half, but instead, slowed the drive with multiple pre-snap penalties. Following a penalty for a false start on a 4th down field goal formation that gave the ball to New Orleans, the Saints marched down the field and kicked a field goal to send the Redskins in for halftime with a 4 point lead.
  • The ‘Skins played pretty well in the second half and made some big plays. Unlike most of the other games this season, the Redskins ran the ball successfully and set up the play action passing game. Perine looked like a legitimate running back.
  • Josh Doctson (especially in the first half) looked like the receiver he needs to be, with at least one excellent catch and another near-catch on a contested ball.
  • Vernon Davis continued to make big plays, though he let a key pass go right through his hands to help kill a drive late in the game.
  • But the team was haunted by pre-snap penalties that wounded or killed the Redskins drives & scoring opportunities, plus at least two defensive penalties that extended Saints’ offensive drives.
  • The Redskins had one great special teams play (a fake punt that earned a first down) but then had a number of misfires, including giving up too much return yardage in the second half, and one “it’s a game of inches” play where a player from the Redskins punt coverage team had his heel on the goal line when he fielded a picture-perfect Tress Way punt. One play already mentioned — a field goal attempt — was aborted by a pre-snap false start. At least there were no special teams fumbles this week.
  • The defense, given a chance to secure the win by stopping either of two Saints drives at the end of the 4th quarter, parted like the Red Sea, giving up two consecutive touchdown drives & a 2-point conversion to end the 4th quarter, then an easy drive to a field goal in overtime. They made Drew Brees look like Case Keenum!
  • The offense, with a chance to salt away the victory by earning a half yard on a third down play with an 8 point lead inside of 4 minutes, had Josh Doctson lined up on the left side of the formation, signalling to everyone around the world that the fullback & running back would be going right. The Saints tackled Perine for a loss. Sitting on my sofa in Bangkok, I knew what play they were gonna run from that formation.

More injury

Shawn Lauvao re-aggravated his shoulder stinger. I haven’t seen any other injury reports yet, except for the one that is the headline-grabber.

The biggest loss of the game may well have been Chris Thompson, who was carted off with a giant brace on his leg. He got rolled up on a Kirk Cousins scramble. Reports I read on Hogs Haven shortly after the game indicated that he broke a bone and his season is over.

I guess we’ll be learning a lot about Byron Marshall in the next 7 days. The front office has another RB roster spot to fill. By my (very quick and dirty) count, the Redskins healthy running backs have 14 career regular season NFL games, and 119 career NFL offensive touches between them.

A familiar pattern

On a day when the Redskins were within spitting distance of sealing a huge win that might have re-defined the season (again, after the redefining games vs the Raiders and Seahawks), they, instead, had to fly home scratching their heads and wondering why it is that they so often can’t finish a game when they seem to have it under control.

Add this game to the home loss to the Eagles, and losses to the Chiefs and Cowboys to the list of games where the Redskins had the ball at the end of the game with a chance to tie or win, but went home with a loss instead.

This is the seasons of injuries and could-have-been.

A fast turnaround in a season that’s quickly unwinding

They now have to turn around and play again on Thursday night. The Giants, who will be the opponents on Thanksgiving at FedEx field, also played an overtime game, though they came away with an unexpected 12-9 win against the Chiefs in a game that was devoid of any touchdowns.

I watched the Giants game on TV while I had the Redskins game on the computer. I was rooting for a late score by the Chiefs that would deflate the Giants and add to their dysfunction ahead of their first game with the ‘Skins. Instead, it was the Redskins who couldn’t close out, and the Giants who scored in overtime to secure an upset win that is likely to motivate them to show up and play on Thursday.

The Redskins have their work cut out for them.

Poll

Would you rather the Saints game have ended in a tie instead of taking the loss?

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    Yes, of course a tie is better than a loss.
    (246 votes)
  • 38%
    No, I’d rather have the loss than the tie. Ties suck!
    (153 votes)
399 votes total Vote Now