While the loss to the Saints on MNF in week 5 stands out as an ugly stain on an otherwise pretty good season, the team is poised to make a run towards the playoffs and has what one writer recently described as a “tissue soft” remaining schedule. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but the Redskins suddenly don’t look like a long-shot for double-digit wins, following an offseason where many analysts and fans were projecting between 6 - 8 wins for the entire season.
Adrian Peterson rushed 26 times for 146 yards and 1 TD, which was a 64-yard scamper that pretty much sealed the victory. He passed Tony Dorsett to reach #9 on the all-time career rushing yards list. He pulled to within one of John Riggins, who is 7th on the all time career rushing TD list. He also notched one more 100-yard rushing game (and has just missed 3 other times this season, with games of 96, 97, and 99 yards on the 2018 resume).
Oh yeah, he also caught one pass for a touchdown.
Adrian Peterson is on pace for 1,341 yards and 9 touchdowns this season.
Per Elias Sports, Peterson finished with 149 rushing yards today, tied for the 3rd-most in a game in NFL history by a player at least 33 years old. Only John Riggins (165) and John Henry Johnson (200) had more at that age
Also, according to Adam Caplan, RB Adrian Peterson is the oldest player in NFL history to record at least 100 rushing yards and both a rushing and receiving touchdown in a single game.
The Redskins defense is ranked 5th in yards per game:
5th in points per game
2nd in rush defense
Also, Washington ranks 3rd in Time of Possession, 3rd in turnover differential, 4th in forced fumbles, 10th in sacks.
As talented as Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley are, the defense held them largely in check, and limited the Giants offense to just 13 points.
Beckham did catch 8 passes for 136 yards, but he didn’t score, and on a critical play in the red zone, Swearinger beat him to the ball and grabbed one of his two interceptions for the game.
Barkley had less success than OBJ, rushing 13 time for 38 yards, and catching 9 passes for 73 yards. Again, his 111 yards might be decent fantasy stats, but the fact is that Barkley didn’t score, and never really hurt the Redskins. Barkley did okay as a pass receiver, but he was shut down as a rusher.
In fact, in the last three games, the Washington Redskins have held Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley under 100 yards.
Just to let you guys know the Redskins have the best rushing defense in the NFL:— Skins SZN (5-2) (@HTTGuice) October 28, 2018
David Johnson - 37 yards
Marlon Mack - 34 yards
Jones/Williams - 78 yards
Kamara/Ingram - 77 yards
McCafrey -20 yards
Zeke - 33 yards
Barkley - 38 yards pic.twitter.com/3NLYFKKJUk
The Redskins sacked Eli Manning seven times for the game. It’s true that the Giants offensive line has struggled all year, and may possibly be the worst in the league, but they had given up 24 sacks in the first 6 games, for an average of 4 per game. The Redskins Defensive Linemen and Outside Linebackers spent more time inside Eli’s jersey that Eli did.
Here’s the list of defensive players that got into the sack party:
- Matt Ioannidis 2.5
- Daron Payne 1.0
- Josh Harvey-Clemons 1.0
- Ryan Kerrigan 1.5
- Jonathan Allen 1.0
D.J. Swearinger, meanwhile, grabbed two interceptions — the first one on a great play that resulted from film study, hard work, and simply out-hustling the Giant’s players to the spot.
Safety D.J. Swearinger picked off two passes and is having an excellent season thus far. Swearinger: "It's just my hard work paying off. You know I’ve been grinding for a long time. I’m a guru in the film room, that’s something I take pride in. I feel... https://t.co/UUmnPVJ8hF— John Keim (@john_keim) October 28, 2018
D.J. Swearinger baited Eli Manning into the INT in the red zone. Said he disguised it as if he was playing man, then shot into his zone where he knew manning would be throwing to Beckham. Film study folks.— John Keim (@john_keim) October 28, 2018
From pillar to post
For the third straight game, and the fifth time this season, the Redskins were never once behind on the scoreboard. After scoring a 1st quarter touchdown, the Redskins were ahead on the scoreboard until the final whistle. In fact, the Redskins have not had a lead change in a single game this season. In their five victories, aside from being 0-0 to start each game, the Redskins have only been tied once — and that happened when the Cowboys scored just before the half in Week 7 to tie the game at 7-7.
The Redskins are playing a smothering defense for 3 1⁄2 quarters, then protecting the lead in the last 6-8 minutes of each of their wins, forcing opposing offenses to run out of clock before they can score enough points to tie or win.
A winning attitude?
A number of journalists who have spent years covering the team spent the offseason commenting on “a different vibe” around the team.
Recently, similar comments have surfaced, as journalists talk about the team having a different approach, and having come away from the Monday Night Football “debauchery” against the Saints with a new commitment.
Gruden: “After the Saints game, this could’ve gone a lot of ways. The leaders stepped up and said ‘enough is enough.’”— Craig Hoffman (@CraigHoffman) October 28, 2018
There has been a lot of talk about leadership from players like D.J. Swearinger, Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne.
An article in last week’s Washington Post focused on the players from Alabama bringing a lot of lessons they learned from Saban and his national championship program to the Redskins.
People have noticed that Daron Payne doesn’t talk a lot, but he gives great quotes. He pretty much goes right to the heart of the matter. This past week, he said that because Saquon Barkley is a powerful runner, the Redskins were going to have to tackle him hard. Gotta love that home grown wisdom, man.
One thing that has jumped out at me about the #Redskins three-game winning streak? The players (rightfully) have been at the facility/open locker room on "Victory Monday." In years past & on a bunch of teams, healthy players were not always required to be at team HQ day after.— Chris Russell (@Russellmania621) October 28, 2018
It takes a little getting used to, but this Redskins team, coached by the offensive-minded Jay Gruden, is led by the defense, and a lot of that leadership appears to be coming from the first and second-year Alabama linemen, along with fiery competitors like Mason Foster and Swearinger.
In the end, the offense only needs to put up enough points to win.
This week, Tampa Bay scored 34 and lost, the Raiders scored 28 and lost, the Packers 27 in a loss. The Redskins are winning by controlling time of possession, protecting the football and winning the turnover battle, winning field position, and winning on the scoreboard.
The Redskins did exactly what they needed to do vs. the New York Giants. The 20-13 win might have looked ugly at times, but there's nothing ugly about this: They're 5-2, still in first place in the NFC East and own a 2-0 mark in the division. It's the... https://t.co/2wZCrGjNcA— John Keim (@john_keim) October 28, 2018
Personally, I saw a lot of functional offense, and another great team win. This isn’t the kind of football that wins fantasy games, but it’s the kind that is winning real games.
Was curious about Alex Smith's scoring production last year vs. this year.— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) October 28, 2018
Smith has thrown 1 TD or less in 4 of 7 games this year for the #Redskins.
Despite a career year with the #Chiefs in 2017, he threw 1 TD or less in 8 of the 15 games he played in. This is who he is.
Personally, I’m thrilled to see the 5-2 record and the division lead. I think that Alex Smith knows a lot about winning football games.
The season has been shaped by the need to face and overcome a number of obstacles this season. The one huge failure was the collapse on MNF, and the two losses this season came against the Saints, ranked 8th in total offense, and the Colts, ranked 11th.
The Redskins did beat the 5th ranked Packers, but that was with a hobbled Aaron Rodgers in a driving rain.
Other victories have come against the 19th ranked Panthers, 20th ranked Giants, 28th ranked Cowboys, and 32nd ranked Cardinals.
The next two games come against the Falcons and Buccaneers, who are ranked 7th and 1st in Total Offense at the moment. These two games will tell us a lot about whether the Redskins style of play can hold up against teams that can pile up the yards through the air (like the Saints) or whether those teams will simply overwhelm the Redskins on the scoreboard.
Happy Victory Monday!!