The Redskins improved to 4-11 with a 27-24 win over Philadelphia on Saturday (Dec. 20, 2014). Here were the 10 most important items from the game:
1. It’s alright to enjoy this
Does this victory fundamentally change the way you should look at this season or the state of the organization? Of course not. Would the Redskins from a long-term standpoint have been better off losing this game in order to help their draft position? Yes.
But I still wanted the win. Snapping a six-game losing streak felt good. Guaranteeing that the team wouldn’t lose each of its final eight games and finish 3-13 for a second straight season felt good. Beating an NFC-East rival five days before Christmas felt good. Sometimes it’s OK to go with your heart and not your head.
The loss helped to doom the Eagles, who were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday (Dec. 21) with Dallas’ NFC East-clinching 42-7 rout of Indianapolis.
2. The Redskins’ defense was good enough
No way should you call this a good game for the Redskins’ defense, as the Eagles produced 495 total net yards of offense and 30 first downs on 84 total offensive plays (including 45 in the first half) and went 9-for-16 on third downs. Additionally, tight end Zach Ertz had a single-game franchise-record 15 receptions for 115 yards on 18 targets.
But the Redskins generated two big takeaways and finished with three sacks:
• Rookie corner Bashaud Breeland made perhaps the defensive play of the Redskins’ season, a late-fourth-quarter third-and-four diving-forward interception of a pass intended for receiver Jeremy Maclin with the score tied at 24 and the Eagles with the ball at the Redskins’ 48. The ensuing Redskins drive resulted in Kai Forbath’s go-ahead 26-yard field goal with five seconds left. The Redskins blitzed on only nine of quarterback Mark Sanchez’s 56 dropbacks in this game, but the Redskins blitzed on his last three dropbacks, including the one that resulted in Breeland’s pick.
• Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan had a third-and-14 sack-strip-recovery that concluded the game’s opening drive. The ensuing Redskins drive resulted in Forbath’s first-quarter 25-yard field goal. Kerrigan now has a career-best 13 ½ sacks, including six over the last five games. And he now 15 career forced fumbles.
• The Redskins’ other two sacks came from linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat (who was signed by the Redskins off their practice squad on Dec. 16) and linebacker Trevardo Williams (who was signed by the Redskins off their practice squad on Dec. 9).
Rookie linebacker Trent Murphy left the game in the first half with a broken right hand.
3. Quarterback Robert Griffin III played well
Griffin registered a Total QBR of 76.2, his best in a game with at least 10 pass attempts since the overtime win over San Diego on Nov. 3, 2013. That was also the last time that Griffin started and finished a Redskins victory.
The biggest positive was that he was sacked just twice, and each sack was the fault of the offensive line. Griffin entered this game having been at fault on at least 18 of his 28 sacks this season. The Redskins entered this game having allowed five or more sacks in six consecutive games.
Griffin also made plays.
• Second-and-14 55-yard under-center completion to receiver DeSean Jackson on the drive that resulted in fullback Darrel Young’s second first-and-goal-at-the-1 I-formation-handoff touchdown run of the third quarter
• Second-and-nine 51-yard shotgun play-action completion to Jackson on the late-first-quarter drive that resulted in running back Alfred Morris’ first-and-10 28-yard pistol-handoff touchdown run
• Second-and-seven 17-yard shotgun read-option play-action completion to receiver Pierre Garcon on a “drift” route and a first-and-10 13-yard I-formation play-action completion to Jackson on the drive that resulted in Young’s first first-and-goal-at-the-1 I-formation-handoff touchdown run of the third quarter
• Third-and-seven 14-yard shotgun completion to receiver Andre Roberts on the Redskins’ first offensive drive, which resulted in Forbath’s first-quarter 25-yard field goal
Also, the Redskins’ offense operated with a nice tempo for most of the game. One instance in which this was not the case, though, was Griffin receiving a first-and-goal-at-the-8 five-yard delay-of-game penalty coming out of an injury timeout on the drive that resulted in Young’s first first-and-goal-at-the-1 I-formation-handoff touchdown run of the third quarter.
The negatives for Griffin:
• Griffin was not impactful as a runner, totaling five carries for 11 yards, all on scrambles
• Griffin’s fourth-quarter third-and-10 shotgun pick to safety Nate Allen came as a result of a bad decision by Griffin, who threw the ball to Jackson despite Allen being in the vicinity
• Griffin had a near-pick on the drive that resulted in Forbath’s first-quarter 25-yard field goal, making a risky throw on a third-and-goal-at-the-7 shotgun incompletion intended for Garcon
• Griffin threw behind tight end Jordan Reed (who made a rather nonchalant attempt to catch the ball) on a third-and-three shotgun incompletion on a late-second-quarter three-and-out
4. Jackson’s excellent season continued
Jackson had four receptions for 126 yards on six targets. The 100-yard receiving game was his sixth of the season, and he now has registered the 28th 1,000-yard receiving season in Redskins history. Jackson exited Week 16 first in the NFL in yards per reception (20.1).
Jackson’s ball-tracking skills were on full display on his third-quarter second-and-14 55-yard and first-quarter second-and-nine 51-yard receptions. He now has recorded seven receptions of 50-plus yards this season, the most by any member of the Redskins in records dating back to 2000. Jackson exited this game tied with Maclin for the most receptions of 50-plus yards this season (seven) and now has 29 receptions of 50-plus yards since entering the NFL in 2008, the most in the league in that time frame.
The drive that resulted in Young’s second first-and-goal-at-the-1 I-formation-handoff touchdown run of the third quarter included Jackson drawing a second-and-eight 10-yard pass-interference penalty on Allen in addition to the second-and-14 55-yard reception.
5. The Eagles were co-conspirators
The Eagles had 13 accepted penalties for 102 yards. The Redskins had three accepted penalties for 15 yards.
• The Redskins’ game-winning drive, which resulted in Forbath’s 26-yard field goal with five seconds left, included a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on defensive end Vinny Curry and a five-yard offside penalty on linebacker Connor Barwin
• The drive that resulted in Young’s first first-and-goal-at-the-1 I-formation-handoff touchdown run of the third quarter included an eight-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on linebacker Brandon Graham and a two-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on Curry
• The drive that resulted in Young’s second first-and-goal-at-the-1 I-formation-handoff touchdown run of the third quarter included Jackson drawing the second-and-eight 10-yard pass-interference penalty on Allen
Rookie Cody Parkey missed two field goals in the third quarter: a 34-yard attempt and a 46-yard attempt.
6. Two special-teams mistakes could have been very costly
Forbath’s kickoff that followed his go-ahead 26-yard field goal with five seconds left was a squib kick gone wrong, and the Eagles got the ball at midfield with three seconds left. Corner David Amerson, though, knocked the ball down on a deep shotgun incompletion by Sanchez.
Roberts had a lost fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half. The ensuing Eagles drive, though, resulted in Parkey’s third-quarter missed 34-yard field-goal attempt.
Roberts did have a 42-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter, though the ensuing Redskins drive resulted in a punt.
7. But Forbath and punter Tress Way continued their quality seasons
Forbath went 2-for-2 on field goals: the first-quarter 25-yarder and the go-ahead 26-yard field goal with five seconds left . He now is 23-for-26 on field goals this season and 58-for-66 on field goals over his three seasons with the Redskins.
All three of Way’s punts landed inside the Eagles’ 20.
8. The Redskins’ running game produced three touchdowns but modest overall numbers
The Redskins totaled 29 carries for 100 yards and three touchdowns.
Morris had 21 carries for 83 yards but was magnificent on his first-and-10 28-yard pistol-handoff touchdown run, literally tossing linebacker Mychal Kendricks aside en route to the end zone. Morris surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the season, joining Stephen Davis (1999-2001) as the only players in Redskins history to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
Young’s two third-quarter first-and-goal-at-the-1 I-formation-handoff touchdown runs were his only two carries of the game. He became just the third NFL player since the 1970 merger to finish a game with two touchdowns on two carries with only two rushing yards, joining Cleveland’s Brian Sipe (Nov. 3, 1974) and Philadelphia’s Norm Snead (Nov. 23, 1970).
9. Gutsy performances by the Redskins’ top two offensive linemen
Left tackle Trent Williams, who was listed as questionable for this game with a right shoulder injury, exited the game during the fourth-quarter drive that resulted in Griffin’s pick but soon returned to the game.
The drive that resulted in Young’s second first-and-goal-at-the-1 I-formation-handoff touchdown run of the third quarter included center Korey Lichtensteiger suffering a stinger but then returning to the game and providing a key block on Young’s touchdown run.
10. Absentee report:
Inactives for the Redskins were:
• defensive end Jason Hatcher for a second straight game due to inflammation in his right knee. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee this past June.
• linebacker Keenan Robinson for a third straight game due to an MCL sprain suffered in the Week 13 loss at Indianapolis
• running back Roy Helu Jr. for a second straight game due to a big-toe sprain suffered in the Week 14 loss to St. Louis
• receiver Leonard Hankerson for the fourth time in five games
• guard Josh LeRibeus
• linebacker Gabe Miller, who was signed from the Redskins’ practice squad to their active roster on Dec. 6
• corner Kenny Okoro, who was signed from the Redskins’ practice squad to their active roster on Dec. 6
The Redskins also played this game without:
• linebacker Brian Orakpo, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Oct. 21 due to a torn right pectoral muscle suffered in the Week 7 win over Tennessee
• corner DeAngelo Hall, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Sept. 22 due to a torn left Achilles injury suffered in the Week 3 loss at Philadelphia. We learned on Oct. 31 that he had torn the Achilles again.
• safety Brandon Meriweather, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Dec. 19 due to a big-toe sprain suffered in the Week 13 loss at Indianapolis
• corner Tracy Porter, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Nov. 26 due to a right AC-joint separation suffered in the Week 12 loss at San Francisco
• safety Duke Ihenacho, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Sept. 22 due to a fractured heal bone suffered in the Week 3 loss at Philadelphia
• linebacker Adam Heyward, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Nov. 24 due to a tibial plateau fracture in his right leg suffered in the Week 12 loss at San Francisco
• linebacker Akeem Jordan, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Oct. 18 due to a sprained left MCL suffered in the preseason-ending win at Tampa Bay on Aug. 28 and then re-aggravated in the Week 6 loss at Arizona
• nose tackle Chris Neild, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Aug. 30 due to a torn right ACL suffered in the preseason-ending win at Tampa Bay on Aug. 28
• rookie offensive tackle Morgan Moses, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Dec. 11 due to a Lisfranc injury suffered in practice on Dec. 10