The 5 o’clock club is published from time to time during the season, and 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.
In Week 15 of the 2022 season, the Commanders faced the Giants in a game that had a huge impact on the playoff race. The winner would be virtually assured of a playoff spot by virtue of the win & the tie-breaking procedures, while the loser would face a tough road to qualify as the 4th place team in the division.
The Giants had the 27th-ranked run defense in the league in 2022, and when Brian Robinson carried the ball in this game, he was almost unstoppable. He had only one negative-yardage play in 13 total touches. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry when he ran the ball, and he picked up 18 yards on his only reception of the game.
Washington outgained the Giants 408 yards to 208, but a defensive score by the Giants and a second fumble by Taylor Heinicke late in the game ultimately proved too much to overcome. The Week 15 loss to the Giants was the 2nd of 4 critical games in which Washington went 0-3-1 and dropped out of the playoff race.
Brian Robinson, however, did everything in his power to get the “W” in this game. He ran with vision and power. Statistically, Robinson put up better numbers in Weeks 12 & 13, but I think this Week 15 game was the most dominant of his career to date; he took on the NYG defenders time and again and simply overpowered them.
Let’s look at what he did in this critically important game in Week 15 of his rookie season.
1st & 10 at WSH 25
(15:00 - 1st) (Shotgun) B.Robinson up the middle to WAS 32 for 7 yards (J.Smith)
This is a simple handoff up the middle on the first play of the game. Robinson is contacted about 4 yards downfield but bulls his way for another three yards to set up 2nd & 3.
Commanders v Giants in Week 15— Bill-in-Bangkok (@billhorgan2005) June 28, 2023
1st & 10 at WSH 25
(15:00 - 1st) (Shotgun) B.Robinson up the middle to WAS 32 for 7 yards (J.Smith) pic.twitter.com/HSUu8yCIyL
2nd & 3 at WSH 32
(14:30 - 1st) (Shotgun) T.Heinicke pass short right to B.Robinson pushed ob at 50 for 18 yards (J.Love; N.McCloud)
On the next play from scrimmage, Robinson got his only reception of the game, and one of the nine he had in 12 games in his rookie season.
The Giants brought a 5-man rush, but it was handled immediately by the Commanders OL, so Robinson went out through the middle of the line and turned to his right. Taylor Heinicke laid a nice ball in exactly the right place about 1 or 2 yard beyond the line of scrimmage. The linebacker had started to follow the tight end who was crossing right to left, so the RB’s route put the defender in a blender where there was no ‘right’ choice.
With the ball in his hands and plenty of green grass in front of him (and a wide receiver blocking for him), Robinson galloped 18 yards to midfield.
2nd & 10 at NYG 46
(12:49 - 1st) (Shotgun) B.Robinson right tackle to NYG 41 for 5 yards (J.Smith; J.Love)
Two plays later, running out of shotgun, Robinson looks like he has nowhere to go when he is three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Three Giants defenders are engaged with 2 offensive line blockers and the play looks like a bust.
Robinson stops his feet, shows a little fake to the left, steps right, and bursts through a crease between two potential tacklers. He initiates contact about 3.5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and, although he is pushed backwards by 3 tacklers, he never goes down and earns 5 yards with forward progress.
4th & 1 at NYG 37
(11:27 - 1st) (Shotgun) B.Robinson left tackle to NYG 32 for 5 yards (K.Thibodeaux)
Two plays later, still on the initial drive of the game, the Commanders were facing a 4th & 1 in field goal range. Showing faith in the offense and in Brian Robinson, Ron Rivera elected to go for it.
The tight end in motion from left to right gets a nice wham block on the crashing safety, and the rest of the line blocks well enough to get the required yard for the first down.
Robinson wants more. He is met by a defender at the line to gain, but keeps his legs churning. Everyone in a burgundy jersey that is standing gets behind him to help push, and the play goes for another 4 yards after contact to continue the drive.
4th & 1 at NYG 37— Bill-in-Bangkok (@billhorgan2005) June 28, 2023
(11:27 - 1st) (Shotgun) B.Robinson left tackle to NYG 32 for 5 yards (K.Thibodeaux) pic.twitter.com/aS6ISo2GZg
This was Washington’s 8th offensive play of the game — 4 of which went to Brian Robinson. Robinson had picked up 40 yards; the other 4 plays accounted for a combined 8 yards. Robinson did not touch the ball again on the drive. The next three plays netted -2 yards, and the Commanders punted on 4th & 12 from the Giants 34 yard line in one of the more puzzling coaching decisions of the NFL season.
1st & 5 at WSH 35
(7:43 - 1st) B.Robinson right guard to 50 for 15 yards (C.Flott; R.Anderson)
Initially, it appeared as if Robinson might have a blocking back ahead of him, but the upback went out on a route. Heinicke handed off the ball on a straight ahead power run.
Robinson is initially contacted about 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, but he’s wedged himself between two blockers (Trai Turner and Cornelius Lucas), so the three of them combine to form an 867-pound locomotive that simply overpowers the Giants tacklers.
Enough guys in white jerseys get their hands on Robinson by the time he reaches the 45-yard-line to slow him down, but Logan Thomas and Charles Leno join the push, and Robinson ends up at midfield for a 15-yard gain and a first down.
1st & 5 at WSH 35— Bill-in-Bangkok (@billhorgan2005) June 28, 2023
(7:43 - 1st) B.Robinson right guard to 50 for 15 yards (C.Flott; R.Anderson) pic.twitter.com/bHz2aV22Zd
1st & 10 at NYG 25
(4:18 - 1st) (Shotgun) B.Robinson right guard to NYG 27 for -2 yards (K.Thibodeaux)
On this play, Taylor Heinicke is running a zone read with a pass option. Two offensive linemen pull to the right, leaving Kayvon Thibodeaux, who played really well in this game, unblocked. Thibodeaux read the play all the way, and was in position to tackle Robinson before he even touched the ball.
Robinson tried a stiff arm to break loose, but KT was having none of it, and Robinson was dumped for a 2-yard loss — his only negative-yardage play of the day.
1st & 10 at NYG 25— Bill-in-Bangkok (@billhorgan2005) June 28, 2023
(4:18 - 1st) (Shotgun) B.Robinson right guard to NYG 27 for -2 yards (K.Thibodeaux) pic.twitter.com/oFyhxeDOBH
Robinson did not touch the ball again on this drive, which ended up with Washington kicking a field goal to score the first points of the game.
On the following drive, Thibodeaux scored a defensive touchdown to put the Giants ahead 7-3.
1st & 10 at WSH 32
(13:05 - 2nd) (Shotgun) B.Robinson right tackle to WAS 45 for 13 yards (J.Love; J.Pinnock)
When Washington got the ball back after the defensive touchdown, Scott Turner went back to what had been working all game — he put the ball in Brian Robinson’s hands on 3 straight plays.
On first down, the play works just like it was drawn up, with the OL opening up a huge hole for Robinson to run through. He gets 11 yards downfield before being tackled by two Giants defenders.
1st & 10 at WSH 45
(12:31 - 2nd) B.Robinson left end to WAS 45 for no gain (L.Collins)
Having just run a picture perfect rushing play, the Commanders went back to the well with a run wide left. One player who was unblocked read the play perfectly and moved aggressively to intercept Robinson — Giants S/LB Landon Collins, who undoubtedly had seen the play in practice plenty of times when he was with the Commanders.
Collins, playing from a linebacker position, simply gets ahead of the play by flanking the left side of the offensive line and meeting Brian Robinson behind his blockers and stopping him for no gain. This was good defense by the Giants, and in particular by Collins.
1st & 10 at WSH 45— Bill-in-Bangkok (@billhorgan2005) June 28, 2023
(12:31 - 2nd) B.Robinson left end to WAS 45 for no gain (L.Collins) pic.twitter.com/oYxZC6dSdR
2nd & 10 at NYG 44
(11:51 - 2nd) B.Robinson left end to NYG 44 for 11 yards (J.Pinnock). FUMBLES (J.Pinnock), ball out of bounds at NYG 44
On 2nd down, Robinson gets the ball again. I’m no film analyst, but to my untrained eye, this looks like the same play they had run on first down (two plays earlier), with Dotson running jet motion to the right and a receiver or tight end crossing right to left behind the line to help with the blocking.
This time, the Giants linebacker or safety rushes straight at the hole that the OL is trying to create, so Robinson heads left, where the OL has gotten some push, and where Robinson can follow the WR (Curtis Samuel?) who acts as a lead blocker. Robinson steps left to get around the big DT (#71) and follows a beautiful lead block thrown by the WR, turns the corner and rumbles 11 yards before he initiates contact with the defender and gets knocked out of bounds for another first down.
2nd & 10 at NYG 44— Bill-in-Bangkok (@billhorgan2005) June 28, 2023
(11:51 - 2nd) B.Robinson left end to NYG 44 for 11 yards (J.Pinnock). FUMBLES (J.Pinnock), ball out of bounds at NYG 44 pic.twitter.com/nE440mwa58
Robinson went to the sideline at this point. Two quick incompletions and a 4-yard run by Antonio Gibson ended the drive, and the Commanders punted.
When the Commanders next had the ball, trailing 14-3, Scott Turner went away from the Brian Robinson ground game that had been nearly unstoppable; instead, he opted for 5 straight passes, which netted 15 yards and resulted in another stalled drive and another punt.
1st & 10 at WSH 25
(3:11 - 3rd) B.Robinson right guard to WAS 32 for 7 yards (J.Smith; M.McFadden)
On Washington’s first offensive drive of the 2nd half, they came out on fire, with three 1st downs on three plays. They also got their first touchdown of the day on a 19-yard pass to Jahan Dotson. Brian Robinson’s only touch on the drive was negated by an illegal shift penalty.
When the Commanders next got the ball, they were trailing 17-9, and Scott Turner decided to get back to what had worked all game — he called a Brian Robinson run.
The LG and TE (Cole Turner) both pull across the formation to block, and Robinson hits the hole right behind them. He gets contacted by the defense about 2.5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Robinson hits the defender with a ton of inertia, and is helped along by Turner. Churning his legs, Robinson muscles forward for a 7-yard gain.
1st & 10 at WSH 25— Bill-in-Bangkok (@billhorgan2005) June 28, 2023
(3:11 - 3rd) B.Robinson right guard to WAS 32 for 7 yards (J.Smith; M.McFadden) pic.twitter.com/P9nfop3mes
Despite the fact that Brian Robinson is moving piles of defenders with regularity, Scott Turner calls a pass on 2nd down (incomplete) and then hands the ball to Curtis Samuel on 3rd & 3, and the Commanders end up punting the ball again when the drive stalls.
1st & 10 at WSH 42
(0:22 - 3rd) B.Robinson left end to WAS 46 for 4 yards (C.Flott; K.Thibodeaux)
As the 3rd quarter comes to an end and the 4th quarter begins, Scott Turner opens up the drive by calling Brian Robinson’s number on 1st & 2nd down.
On first down, Logan Thomas motions right to left across the formation, and Brian Robinson follows him, getting 4 yards.
1st & 10 at WSH 42— Bill-in-Bangkok (@billhorgan2005) June 28, 2023
(0:22 - 3rd) B.Robinson left end to WAS 46 for 4 yards (C.Flott; K.Thibodeaux) pic.twitter.com/OtIBI2TkHs
2nd & 6 at WSH 46
(15:00 - 4th) B.Robinson left end to NYG 49 for 5 yards (J.Smith; J.Ellis)
On 2nd & 6, there’s a lot of motion at the start of the play, with jet sweep action from Curtis Samuel and the tight end crossing behind the line of scrimmage for a cut block on the LDE. Robinson carries the ball left, and finds himself facing three defenders with three blockers in front of him, but the defensive line has penetrated a yard or two, and things look grim.
Robinson actually runs into #44, who is engaged with the slot receiver (not sure who it is) who is doing a solid job keeping the defender tied up. Robinson slips away and moves to his right, getting north and south. At the line of scrimmage, he puts a brutal fake on the tackler, who ends up flat on the ground grasping at air. Three yards beyond the line of scrimmage, Robinson lowers his shoulder and takes on three tacklers, coming up about a half-yard short of the line-to-gain.
2nd & 6 at WSH 46— Bill-in-Bangkok (@billhorgan2005) June 28, 2023
(15:00 - 4th) B.Robinson left end to NYG 49 for 5 yards (J.Smith; J.Ellis) pic.twitter.com/oXU3VNmOI2
Once again, Robinson goes to the sideline. Heinicke runs for a 1st down, but then two incomplete passes and a negative-yardage run by Antonio Gibson end the drive, and the Commanders settle for a field goal to make it 17-12 midway through the 4th quarter.
1st & 10 at NYG 30
(8:17 - 4th) (Shotgun) B.Robinson left end pushed ob at NYG 11 for 19 yards (F.Moreau)
Trailing by 5 points with about 8 minutes left in the game, Robinson gets the ball again on 1st & 10 (his 8th first-down run of the game).
The play is well-blocked, and Robinson bursts through the hole and runs free to the left sideline for a 19-yard pickup and a valuable first down.
1st & 10 at NYG 30— Bill-in-Bangkok (@billhorgan2005) June 28, 2023
(8:17 - 4th) (Shotgun) B.Robinson left end pushed ob at NYG 11 for 19 yards (F.Moreau) pic.twitter.com/5omWqbFkV9
This was Robinson’s last recorded touch of the game. Three plays later, Taylor Heinicke was sacked, and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Giants.
On the final drive of the game for the Commanders, trailing by 8 points with time winding down, Brian Robinson did get one carry on 3rd & goal. A touchdown was signaled, but it was negated by a penalty flag thrown on Terry McLaurin, whom the official said was not on the line of scrimmage.
I’ve included the disgraceful lowlights of that final drive below for anyone who has forgotten what happened, or who is just having a good day and wants to ruin it.
BONUS COVERAGE — REMEMBERING HOW THIS GAME ENDED
2nd & Goal at NYG 10
(1:08 - 4th) (Shotgun) T.Heinicke scrambles right end to NYG 1 for 9 yards (K.Thibodeaux). The Replay Official reviewed the runner was inbounds ruling, and the play was REVERSED. (Shotgun) T.Heinicke scrambles right end pushed ob at NYG 1 for 9 yards (K.Thibodeaux).
3rd & Goal at NYG 1
(1:03 - 4th) (Shotgun) B.Robinson right guard for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN NULLIFIED by Penalty. PENALTY on WAS-T.McLaurin, Illegal Formation, 5 yards, enforced at NYG 1 - No Play.
4th & 6 at NYG 6
(0:56 - 4th) (Shotgun) T.Heinicke pass incomplete short left to C.Samuel (D.Holmes) [D.Lawrence].
4. Terry McLaurin— Dead Serious (@Deadseriousness) December 19, 2022
McLaurin thought he and the ref shared a moment and he was given the thumbs up to line up illegally only to immediately receive a penalty that erased the game-tying touchdown. Shout out to this referee gaslighting McLaurin. Gaslight. Gatekeep. Girlboss. pic.twitter.com/3wyZrrT7Sp
Should Brian Robinson, who averaged 7.4 yards per carry in this game, have gotten more than 12 carries?
This poll is closed
Were the Commanders robbed of the potential game-tying touchdown (still needed a 2-pt conversion) TWICE on the final drive by horrible officiating decisions?
This poll is closed
Yer dam right they were
Does a bear poop in the woods?
All of the above
No. Stop whining you crybaby. It was last season. It’s done. MOVE ON already.