Monday, October 09, 2006

Anyone Seen Last Week's Redskins?

Washington 3, New York Giants 19
Oy vey, this was a tough game to watch, and not just because the hulking Washington offense that posted more than 70 points and a gabillion yards in two weeks reverted into a feeble, three-point weakling Bruce Banner. No, this game was also a snore because, from beginning to end, the Redskins never looked like they had a legitimate chance to win this game. As a fan, you kept waiting for some big play (maybe try throwing a long forward pass to Santana Moss?) to happen, and...and...

[still waiting]

Reasonable minds might differ, but my biggest concern is with the Redskins defense. My boy BigWes argued that when you can keep a team under 20 points, your D has done its job. True, but this defense isn't supposed to be this porous, this lenient, this, dare I say, breakable. The Giants won the time of possession battle by nine minutes, but it sure felt like 20: they converted 9 of 16 third downs while Washington managed a poor 27% of theirs.

Every game has singularly critical moments that define the eventual outcome. On Sunday, there was a series of drives that, once finished were unofficial permission for you to turn off the TV and do yard work.

The score is 6-3, Giants. With 4:28 left in the second quarter, New York began a drive at their own 2 yard line. After a false start penalty, the Giants were left with the entire field to cover for a score. Over the next 4:22, Eli Manning and company covered 85 yards, converted three third downs and kicked a field goal to send the game into halftime.

The Giants receive the second half kickoff and begin their drive at their own 31. Who-dat running back Brandon Jacobs converts two third-and-shorts. With the ball on the Redskins' 26, facing 3rd and 16, Manning completes a pass to Amani Toomer for 21 yards. Two plays later, Plaxico Burress catches a touchdown. 13-3, Giants.

The Skins get the ball and mount their best drive of the day (which isn't saying much: they never cracked the opposing red zone). On third and one on the New York 24, rather than pound the ball up the middle with Dolemite--I mean, Clinton--Portis, Washington elects to have Mark Brunell attempt a pass into traffic, intended for Chris Cooley. This is the same Chris Cooley, mind you, who was the intended receiver on four out of five of the passes on this drive. The ball drops incomplete, and I begin yelling at the screen "Man up! Do not settle for a long field goal! Run the friggin' ball for ONE YARD! It's just ONE YARD!"

John Hall lines up for a 42-yard field goal. Shanked. I'm now holding my head in my hands and considering spending time with my in-laws.

Speaking of things that give a fan bubbling gas...

Unlike the Skins/Giants, Sunday's battle against the Philly Eagles (hard to call them the Egos when you-know-who's not on the sidelines) was one for the NFC East Classic video vault. Despite the look of the final score, Donovan McNabb's statistics, and Terrell Owens' lack of production, Dallas has every reason to feel confident that they could have won this game.

...Except that their quarterback is Drew Bledsoe. You know how its said that a single player can't make a team...but he can sure sink one? Drew is exhibit A. If I root for the Dallas Cowchips, the only reason I'm not calling for his immediate benching is because Tony Romo would then have to play quarterback. Oh, he was horrific. If it wasn't his statuesque posing in the pocket that led to seven sacks, it was him ignoring Owens for the first half, or one-hopping passes to other receivers. And then there were the interceptions. It's no secret that you can win if you pressure Bledsoe; how Dallas didn't compensate (they ran the ball well enough) by rolling him out is beyond me. If this game qualifies for NFL Replay honors, keep an eye out for Terry Glenn and T.O., independently shown, sighing and looking like they want to strangle Drew.

Yet, despite the play of the Dallas quarterback, the Eagles couldn't put this game away. Sure, they had some big throws to L.J. Smith and some guy named Baskett, but those were on blown coverages. The Philly run game was average, their passing attack was spotty. If I'm a Philly phan, I'm not feeling all that confident in my team. Even if they only have one loss.

Then again, as a Redskins fan, I have no idea which coaching staff and team will trot onto the field, week to week.

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