Best and worst moments from the Redskins’ 17-10 win over the Rams in St. Louis.
Best Standings: Could have gotten pretty nice odds on the proposition that the Redskins would have a two-game lead over the Eagles going into the bye. The Eagles were prohibitive NFC East favorites, while the Redskins had the longest preseason odds to win the division. Washington will host Philly coming out of the bye. And honestly, Redskins fans may have gotten as much satisfaction from the Eagles and Cowboys both blowing 20-point leads at home as from their own team hanging on for dear life on Sunday.
Worst Interception: Rex Grossman. Fourth quarter. In his own territory. Trying to preserve a lead. Although, “You blame Kyle Shanahan for making the call at that point,” Brian Mitchell said on the Comcast SportsNet postgame show. A lot of fans will agree.
Best Series: After that horrific interception, which gave the Rams the ball at Washington’s 20, Grossman was bailed out by his defense, like so: Incompletion, penalty, Stephen Bowen sack, Brian Orakpo sack. St. Louis didn’t even manage a field-goal attempt.
Worst Pre-Game Prediction: Larry Michael’s prediction on the Redskins Radio Network was 35-14 in favor of the road team.
Best Tweet: “Letting Rex pass with the lead and five minutes left in the game is the new blitzing on 3rd and 21.” (Via @dcuniverse)
Worst Team: St. Louis Rams. Unless they’re being judged on false starts, dropped passes, dropped interceptions, missed tackles, passes to nowhere, fake handoffs to nobody, empty seats, third-down failures and general incompetence, in which case they were awesome.
Best Duo: This Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan pairing might work out. Sunday, they combined for 9 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble, plus a boatload of holding penalties, some called and some not. It’s possible that they’re the two best players on the team; certainly, if you were trying to make one of those cheesy ‘80s-vintage sports posters featuring multiple players at the same position dressing up in dopey costumes, these guys would be first on the list. Most likely dressed as supermarket sackers or the guys from Rush or something.
Best Return to the Backfield: Ryan Torain turned the Redskins’ two-headed backfield monster into a three-headed backfield monster late in the first half. His first two carries? A seven-yard jaunt in which he flattened Darian Stewart, and a 20-yard touchdown sprint, Washington’s longest rushing score of the season. By his second drive, he had a 39-yard run, the team’s longest of the season. “He exploded onto the scene,” as Grossman put it. And on one third-quarter drive, all three backs received playing time. Mike Shanahan, fantasy football killer, has officially returned.
Worst First-Drive Playcalling: Kyle Shanahan. Courtesy the Washington Times’s Rich Campbell, against the NFL's worst run defense, the Redskins started the game like this: pass, pass, pass, pass, false start, punt. In contrast, the Skins started the second half run, run, run, run, run, and wound up with a field goal.
Best Stat: The Rams gained negative-four yards in the third quarter. Or maybe they lost positive four yards. That’s one yard lost per 3:45.
Worst Disappearances: Through two games, Tim Hightower had 168 rushing yards, and Fred Davis had 191 receiving yards. In the two games since, Hightower has 65 rushing yards, and Davis has 57 receiving yards.
Best Punt: Sav Rocca’s 63-yarder late in the fourth quarter prevented the Redskins from facing what figured to be excellent field position on St. Louis’s final drive.
Worst Prediction, Part II: “This thing has gotten disastrous,” Fox’s Tim Ryan said after St. Louis’s second unsuccessful drive. I’ve seen worse NFL disasters than seven-point losses.
Best Hits: Niles Paul and Lorenzo Alexander combined to annihilate Rams punt returner Austin Pettis in the first quarter. It was the sort of hit where you expected spare body parts to flutter out onto the field. In the second quarter things got even worse, when Perry Riley splattered Pettis, forcing a fumble and getting called for unnecessary roughness. Tough competition for the hit stick this week.
Worst Penalty:Speaking of which, I thought tacklers were allowed to tackle punt returners once they field the punts. Riley’s hit did not appear to be helmet-to-helmet. Later, Paul smashed into Pettis’s helmet, deservedly getting a 15-yarder. Maybe Pettis should look into the fair catch, just for fun?
Best Third-Down Receiver: Jabar Gaffney? Two first-quarter conversions for a total of 37 yards? Another eight-yard catch on a third down in the fourth? We all made fun of the idea of Grossman-to-Gaffney back in August. Apparently, we all were wrong.
Worst Camera Work: Much of that game felt unwatchable. Both in the sense that it was kind of boring, and in the sense that the camera was often showing things other than the actual football. Of course, if I were Fox, I probably wouldn’t send my A team to St. Louis, either.
Best Streak: After Larry Fitzgerald’s brutal 73-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter of Week 2, the Redskins’ defense suddenly put a stone wall in front of the end zone. No opponent scored a touchdown for more than 126 minutes after that Fitzgerald score, until Steven Jackson got into the end zone late in the fourth quarter. (Via @GrantPaulsen.)
Worst Line: After Pettis was wobbly leaving the field following one of the crushing hits, Fox play-by-play man Chris Myers said he was “seeing stars, and I don’t mean Sam Bradford.” First of all, making fun of head injuries isn’t a great topic for jokes. Second of all, that wasn’t funny. Third of all, Bradford didn’t seem like much of a star.
Best Motor: Ryan Kerrigan. That’s what they tell me. Motor motor motor motor motor. He also has a sack in three straight games.
Best Throw: Grossman’s first-quarter touchdown pass to Santana Moss, while backpedaling, with a leaping Ram in his face, could hardly have been more perfect.
Best Redskins Defensive Back: I thought Mike Sims-Walker did an awesome job repeatedly knocking the ball to the ground, preventing completions and ending drives.
Stat That Most Surprised Me: This is the fifth time in the last nine years the Redskins have started a season 3-1. In 2005 and 2007, that led to the playoffs. In 2003 and 2008, it did not. (Via @davidelfin)