Best and worst moments from Washington’s 38-31 win over the Cowboys in Dallas.
Best Drive: With Redskins fans hyperventilating and a few old-timers getting ready to break out the Clint Longley memories, the Redskins finally settled down on their final real drive of the game. The Cowboys had just cut what was once a 25-point deficit to just seven. Then Washington ran 10 plays, gained 50 yards, took more than five minutes off the clock, and wound up with a 48-yard field goal. Alfred Morris carried the ball five times for 18 yards on the drive, and Santana Moss caught two passes for 27 yards, and there was lots of exhaling and happiness.
Best Forbath: I’m not sure that Kai Forbath hasn’t been the second most-important Redskins player this season. I guess that’s a bit much, but 10 straight field goals? Field goals from 50, 45, 48 and 47 yards? And then a cool-as-ice 48-yarder on national television with the game and season possibly on the line, a kick right down the middle with plenty of distance? That’s something else.
Worst Time to Throw a Single Bad Pass: Robert Griffin III sometimes seems like he’s as close to perfect as an NFL quarterback can be. That interception in the fourth quarter was not perfect. With a two-touchdown lead, the worst case there is a three-play drive that takes a minute or two off the clock. The worst case CANNOT be an interception that’s brought back to your 22-yard line.
Best Six Quarters: From the start of the Eagles game until halftime of the Cowboys game, RGIII was 25-for-29 yards passing for 408 yards, with seven touchdowns, no interceptions, and 93 rushing yards. That’s impossible.
Best Quotes: “He is my new favorite player to watch in the NFL,” Michael Strahan said at halftime. “The most valuable player in the entire National Football League,” Jimmy Johnson said. “It’s amazing. I’m not getting carried away. I haven’t seen anything like this.” The “he” didn’t even need to be mentioned.
Worst Overreaction: I thought Mike Shanahan’s speech after the home loss to the Panthers was weird, no matter his explanation. He sounded, to the whole world, like he was done with this season and planning for the future. But who cares now, because since then, the Redskins have fairly comfortably beaten NFC East rivals in back-to-back weeks. It sure isn’t evaluation time any more.
Best Audio: Redskins fans, in Dallas, chanting “RGIII, RGIII” as their team embarrassed their biggest rival throughout the first half on national TV. A lot of people have waited a long time for a moment like that.
Best Stat, I: The Redskins scored 28 points in the second quarter. That was their most points in a quarter since Oct. 3 of 1999. That’s more than 13 years.
Best Stat, II: Since the bye week, Robert Griffin III has thrown eight touchdown passes, and nine incomplete passes.That’s impossible, too.
Best Stat, III: Griffin became the first Redskins quarterback in franchise history to throw four touchdown passes in consecutive games. He also became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw four touchdown passes in consecutive games, via STATS LLC.
Best Stat, IV: The Redskins have now scored 295 points in 2012. They scored 288 points in 2011. They still have five games left.
Best Catch: Pierre Garcon’s grab-and-go 59-yard touchdown was amazing for several reasons, but it all started with Garcon reaching behind him and snatching the ball out of the air. It was an absurd play, and his subsequent wheels made it clear how much he can add to this offense.
Worst Punt Return: You don’t often see a guy field a punt at the goal line and then run it out to his own 7. That’s literally a ground-breaking punt return strategy. Add in his insistence on taking kickoffs out from the end zone and failing to reach the 20, and Brandon Banks is re-writing the special teams handbook.
Worst Job of Stepping on the Gas: Or whatever mangled phrase you’d like. The Redskins started the third quarter by going three plays for four yards and punt, six plays for 14 yards and punt, and three plays for four yards and punt. Then the fourth quarter happened.
Best Hit: Dallas cruised down the field on its first drive before stalling at the goal-line, thanks in part to a false start penalty on Jason Witten. On 3rd-and-11 from the Washington 12, Tony Romo threw to Miles Austin in the end zone; a vicious hit by London Fletcher made sure that Austin wouldn’t corral the ball. The Cowboys wound up with a field goal.
Best Hit, II: A late heave by Tony Romo was in Dez Bryant’s hands in the end zone; it seemed for a moment like a touchdown that would bring the Cowboys within three points. Then Madieu Williams came in and forcibly separated Bryant from the ball. The Cowboys wound up with a field goal, and wouldn’t score again.
Worst Hit: Nothing dirty about it, but DeMarcus Ware absolutely leveled Griffin on a completion in the fourth quarter, and you had to sort of wonder whether parts of his body exploded. He got up, was soon laughing about it, and moments later threw his fourth touchdown. But for the next decade, Washingtonians will hold their breaths every time something like that happens.
Worst Weather Forecasting: Rain inside a stadium that has a roof? A decision to open it that can’t be reversed? Jerry Jones looking pained on national television? Hahahahahaha.
Best Helmet on Football Contact: Josh Wilson’s well-placed helmet jarred loose the football from Dez Bryant’s arms early in the second quarter, stopping a promising Dallas drive and — with the subsequent DeJon Gomes return — giving Washington the ball past the 50. Washington marched in for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead.
Best Sack: Griffin got hit and wrapped up about seven or eight yards behind the line of scrimmage late in the first half. Somehow, the play didn’t end. It took two more Cowboys defenders to bring him down, and — with thanks to a big push from Kory Lichtensteiger — he only lost a single yard. It was not a typical NFL sack, and it allowed the Redskins to later convert on third down, and later score their third touchdown.
Best Hug: Awwww.
Best Pass: We all knew Robert Griffin III had a howitzer of a right arm, but there also seemed to be some timing issues on deep routes early in the season. Take another look at Aldrick Robinson’s 68-yard touchdown catch. Not too many timing issues there. Sure, Robinson was open by five yards, but RGIII plopped that ball into his arms in stride.
Best Speed: For the first few weeks of this season, we were hearing about the advantages of a roster filled with speeders, from Griffin to Robinson to Garcon to Davis. Then Robinson fell out of the gameplan, and Garcon and Davis got hurt, and the speed seemed to disappear. Well, the last two weeks have seen touchdown passes of 49, 61, 68 and 59 yards, all to wide receivers.
Best Punt: We all mocked Sav Rocca for several flubs earlier in the season, so here’s to Rocca bombing a 58-yarder early in the second half from deep in his own territory. It looked like Dallas would get terrific field position, but instead the Cowboys started at their own 33.
Worst Job Hurrying Up to Snap the Ball: Redskins. A bad spot gave Washington a first down early in the third quarter. Everyone at home was screaming “snap it, snap it, snap it!!!!” Instead, the Skins just chilled out, and Jason Garrett got a nice long look at the replay. He threw the red flag, and the call was overturned.
Best Job Running a QB Sneak to Get Six Inches on First Down: Cowboys. Seems they were convinced it was 3rd-and-Short.
Worst Drop: On Washington’s first drive, tight end Logan Paulsen muffed what would have been a first-down catch that hit him right in the gut. The Redskins wound up going three-and-out.
Worst Block: On Washington’s next drive, Paulsen was charged with blocking Anthony Spencer one-on-one. He pretty much whiffed entirely on the linebacker, leading to the second Dallas sack of the quarter.
Best Sunday: No stress. No anxiety. Just putter around the yard, and watch TV casually, and if the Packers happen to win, there’s a Monday Night Football game next weekend with first place in the NFC East on the line.
(Top image via this CSN video.)