Monday, December 06, 2004

Week 13: Finally!

Washington 31, New York Giants 7

It's been a long time comin', but the Redskins put together their most complete, dominating performance of the season on Sunday, turning the Giants into Lilliputians. We haven't seen this kind of football since week one versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It felt euphoric then, in the newness of the season, but Sunday it felt like a step into positivity. This wasn't lost on Coach Joe "Man Under Fire" Gibbs, who could only utter "Finally!" in his post-game interview with Sonnny Jurgensen. He and all 90,000 fans knew that what we witnessed Sunday was a full demonstration of the power of Redskins Football.

It is the power running, accented by a calculated passing attack, that have defined Redskins game plans for the Gibbs era. It works--and has worked--for multiple running backs and quarterbacks from Doug Williams to Earnest Byner to John Riggins to Mark Rypien. How appropriate that the Redskins front office featured a picture of injured tackle Jon Jansen on fans' tickets for this game. It was the offensive line who simply owned the Giants yesterday, allowing Clinton Portis to have his most complete day (31 rushes for 148 yards, three receptions for 14 yards, two touchdowns, no fumbles). When Mr. President needed a breather, Ladell Betts got loose for 64 additional yards on 11 rushes. Conventional football wisdom says that if you run the ball well, you own the clock. Boy, did we: 40:29 to the Giants' 19:31. Washington ran 30% more plays than New York.

Patrick "Pharaoh" Ramsey had the best day of his career under this scheme, completing 19 of 22 passes for 174 yards and three--that's right, three--touchdowns. Credit due again to the offensive line who allowed but one sack and gave Ramsey enough time to make some great throws. He even hit eight different receivers. Perhaps the most suprising kudos is that none of those receivers dropped a pass! Aside from one questionable throw into coverage on 3rd and 3 in the middle of the 3rd quarter, Ramsey looked sharp, comfortable, and even a little daring. His long touchdown to Chris Cooley (Chris Cooley!) was a textbook no-no; Ramsey scrambled eight yards to the right off of a play fake and found his tight end lightly covered going left. The Pharaoh threw across his body and across the field...perfect pass and Cooley was off to the races. (The points from Washington, and my fantasy team, were removed because of a holding penalty. Fudge.)

I noted during the game that the offense was so uncharacteristically efficient that when facing 1st and 20 and 2nd and 20 we still converted those drives into points. In previous games, one holding penalty would guarantee a punt. On Sunday, three of our touchdown drives were over 70 yards, and we began the game with a 93 yarder. That is how you demoralize a defense from the outset.

It's easy to focus on the offense because, frankly, they've stunk like fresh rabbit poop. (Don't ask me how I know this.) But let's not forget that the second-ranked defense, led by linebacker Antonio Pierce, pitched a shutout of the suddenly-feeble Giants offense. Jeremy "Low Voltage" Shockey was limited to two catches, disappointing the Big Blue faithful who arrived en masse wearing his number. Tiki Barber was ineffective, posting only 38 yards on 15 carries and almost losing a fumble. (That's the Tiki I know and love.) Ron Dayne only showed up for one catch and, um, one special teams tackle. Attaboy. Eli "Boy Wonder" Manning only proved that he still has some learning still to do. Apart from one well-placed 48 yard bomb to Amani Toomer, Eli looked mediocre, particularly in the face of blitzes by rookie phenom Sean Taylor. Excellent work today, Gregg Williams. Your boys finally got to work to keep a lead, rather than hope to create one.

What made this near-perfect game all the more special was that it was won on my birthday. Kinda felt like Gibbs and company waited three months to open this gift of a game. (Note to Gibbs: Don't do that again. I'd gladly trade this win for a loss, but an 8-4 record.) I shared this game with my good friend D-Trux, a loyal Giants fan. Poor guy. Until kickoff, this game was close. To his credit, he stood firm in the face of continuous ribbing by every Redskin fan as we made our way to our seats. Even the stadium staff pretended to throw him over a balcony. Trux's final review of the game: "This is a travesty and a shamocracy!" Shamocracy indeed.


OFFENSE: A+ (I pled with Gibbs last week to run the ball. Another 100 yard day for Portis, another win. The truth is--and I know it's water under the bridge--that if Washington had attempted this same game plan every week between weeks 2 and 12, we'd be knocking on Philly's door for NFC East supremacy and guaranteed an NFC wild card spot.)


Sp. TEAMS: B (I won't say you all should Hang Your Head, but your lapse may have prevented this game from going into the archives of great Gibbs wins.)

COACHES: A+ (Ain't it great when you draw up a plan and it goes exactly as you wanted?)

The Young Avengers opened up a fresh can of Shut-Yo-Mouth this week on the hapless BestMan squad, 138-65. Most weeks, it's my Steelers defense and Mike Vick putting up 2/3 of my points. This week, they each posted poor numbers, earning me only 10 fantasy points. The other 128 came most from T.O. (Cannot. Be. Stopped.), Brandon "I Love Peyton" Stokely, Mike Vanderjiggy, and free agent pickup Ravens back Chester Taylor. With the playoffs right around the corner, the Avengers appear to have secured a post-season place. My competitors, Roy's Boys and D-Trux's Juggernauts, look like they'll win too. Once I figure out the cryptic playoff requirements, I'll post whether we get in.

The Egos fly into Maryland for ESPN Sunday Night Football. What a difference a week makes. After the Pittsburgh snore-fest, I would have had serious doubts that Washington could keep up with McNabb and the boys, much less win. Now? Well...I dunno. I'll look at how Philly performed and post my thoughts later. Should be a good game, and the FedEx Field staff informed us that security at the stadium will be doubled. Oh yeah. Just for fun, I'll announce a Redskins win, 20-17.

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