Anyone who’s watched the Redskins play a prime time game in recent years would have obviously predicted the opening moments of tonight’s game: rookie Montae Nicholson took off from somewhere near the middle of the field and leaped over star wide receiver Amari Cooper to intercept quarterback Derek Carr. They would certainly have predicted the steady offensive performance, seemingly possessed defense, and shut-out that lasted until the final few minutes of the third quarter, too, right?
Probably not. The Redskins seemed to take the field tonight with something to prove after their recent not-so-great history in prime time, and, with few exceptions, mostly on the special teams side, the game felt in control for the Redskins from the very beginning. The team’s sense of control started with the defense.
Thanks to pressure and smart play, the defense never let Carr find a rhythm or get comfortable behind his offensive line. He threw two interceptions in the first half alone, including the opener to Nicholson and one to Kendall Fuller. (It’s worth noting that the offense turned both of those turnovers into touchdowns, something they’ve struggled to do in the past.) Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, and Junior Galette all made their way into the backfield for sacks, and linebackers Zach Brown and Martrell Spaight combined for 19 tackles. When all was said and done, the defense limited Carr, Cooper, running back Marshawn Lynch, and the rest of the Raiders’ offense to just 120 yards and zero 3rd downs.
The Redskins’ offense made up for numbers where the Raiders’ fell short, and they did so with picture-perfect balance in the play calling. Quarterback Kirk Cousins fired the ball through the air for an impressive 365 yards passing by the game’s end. When you combine the yards earned on the ground by Samaje Perine (who exited the game in the second half with a hand injury) and other running backs, Cousins and his offense tallied 472 yards. All of this happened as they attempted 30 pass plays and 34 rushing attempts. In the first half alone, Cousins went 17/19, passed for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns, and earned a 139.7 passer rating. His first touchdown of the night went to none other than running back Chris Thompson, who was the team’s leading receiver with 150 yards. Thompson’s standout play of the night was, of course, a 74 yard touchdown reception on a 3-and-19. Other standout plays included a touchdown by the ageless tight end Vernon Davis, a much-anticipated Josh Doctson sighting and touchdown, which happened to be against former Redskin David Amerson, and an impressive sideline catch by Terrelle Pryor Sr., who has had drop issues in recent weeks.
The only real areas of concern tonight were fumbles and special teams, and those two things overlapped in one instance. All of Oakland’s points came off turnovers; the first was a touchdown that followed Jamison Crowder’s fumble on a punt return, and the second was a field goal following Perine’s fumble. Lastly, kicker Dustin Hopkins had a chance to put the Redskins up by three more points, but he missed a 52 yard field goal attempt, wide left. The unit will have until next Monday night to iron out the wrinkles before the Redskins take on the Kansas City Chiefs in their second prime time game in as many weeks, but if they can get things rolling to match what the offense and defense did tonight, the Redskins may just prove they have a chance as an unexpected contender.
How would you grade the Redskins’ performance against the Raiders?
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