Redskins-Ravens best and worst

December 9, 2012

Best and worst moments from Washington’s 31-28 overtime win over the Ravens at FedEx Field.

Best Game: That one seemed pretty exciting. As I write this, still trembling and hiding under my desk, I’m not sure I remember a December Skins game in which more insane, thrilling, agonizing and unexpected things happened. The good guys won and the franchise QB got pummeled. Do you smile? Do you cry? Do you just keep hiding under your desk? Please advise.

Best Fourth-round pick: Kirk Cousins? I mean, first he came in on a 3rd-and-6 and got a first down via pass interference. Then he went back to the bench. Then he came back in, facing a 2nd-and-20, and needed just two completions to reach the end zone. Then he ran in the two-point conversion. With the game on the line. In the fourth quarter. In December. Kirk Cousins. Yes, that rookie quarterback. Maybe Rex Grossman does that. But I’m not so sure he does.

Best Two-point Conversion Call: There were 11 men on the field for the Redskins on that crucial conversion. I probably would have listed nine of them as more likely to score the conversion than Cousins.

Best Stat: Comcast SportsNet reported that this was the first time the Redskins won back-to-back games after trailing in the fourth quarter since 1989.

Best Forbath: Kai Forbath still hasn’t missed a field goal. And his successful kicks include field goals from 50, 45, 43, 45, 48, 47, 48 and — on Sunday’s messed-up field — 48 and 49 yards. Oh, and then he hit a game-winning 34-yarder in overtime. Of course, his kickoffs weren’t great on Sunday. Can’t have everything, I guess. “I’m glad he’s on our football team, that’s for sure,” Mike Shanahan said after the game.

Worst Play-by-Play Call: Marv Albert after an RGIII sack: “And he’s hurt!” If he was, it didn’t keep him out of a play, but way to put cardiologists on alert all over greater Washington, Marv.

Worst Play-by-Play Call, II: And then, on the first play after the two-minute warning, Griffin’s leg got bent up all weird. Watch it here. “Uhhhhhh, that didn’t look good,” Rich Gannon said. The rookie phenom missed a play, and then came back. Then he went down again, and did not return. “He appeared to suffer a right knee injury,” Albert said.

Worst Limp: Griffin could barely even walk up the field on Washington’s last drive of regulation. He stumbled. He hobbled. He still was competing passes, but in general, ohno ohno ohno ohno ohno ohno ohno ohno ohno ohno ohno ohno. Nothing else matters.

Best Inactive List: No Brandon Banks. No punts fielded at the 1. No kickoffs run back from the end zone to the 14. No snarky special teams comments (besides this one). We all win.

Best Replacement: On punts, Banks’s replacement was Richard Crawford. He averaged 33 yards on 3 punt returns, including a massive 64-yarder in overtime that essentially won the game. Banks this season has averaged 6.8 yards on 26 punt returns, with a long of 27.

Worst Replacement: Banks’s other replacement was Niles Paul, on kickoffs. Paul fumbled a late kickoff return, a play that could have ruined the day. Yes, the Redskins kept the ball, but you’re not allowed to fumble right there. Maybe the return game issues have not yet been solved.

Best Ball Luck: Fumbling the ball and forcing fumbles seems to involve skill. Fumble recoveries seem to involve a lot of luck. The Redskins could have been toast after the Ravens recovered that late Paul fumble near the sidelines. But David Reed was just barely still corralling the ball as he rolled out-of-bounds, and Washington kept the ball.

Worst Drop: On a 3rd-and-3 late in the game, Griffin delivered the ball into a terrific spot for Pierre Garcon to gain the first down. No, it wasn’t absolutely perfect, but your No. 1 receiver has to make that play and keep the drive going. Garcon dropped it.

Best Second-half Defense: After being handed a massive first-half lead on Thanksgiving and then let the Cowboys score 28 points after intermission, the Redskins defenders have become closers. Against the Giants? Just a field goal after halftime. Against the Ravens? Just a touchdown after halftime, and that on a short field.

Worst Tackling: But on perhaps the game’s most important play to that point, Anquan Boldin caught a 3rd-down pass around the Washington 28. He already had the first down. DeAngelo Hall grabbed hold of Boldin around the 23. The play ended on the 7. That was a weird 16-yard dance those two did together. Baltimore scored on the next play to go up by a touchdown.

Worst Use of a Second-half timeout: John Harbaugh? On a stupid fake punt you were never gonna run? Hahahahahahahahaha.

Best Re-emergence: Ryan Kerrigan has had several quiet games this season since his partner, Brian Orakpo, went out for the year. But Sunday he showed up when his team needed him most, ruining a lengthy Baltimore third-quarter drive by getting in Joe Flacco’s face. London Fletcher caught the deflected pass, and somehow what seemed like a sure touchdown drive resulted in zero points. Improbably, it was Fletcher’s third interception of the season.

Best Revelation: Linebacker Rob Jackson has emerged as Washington’s most dynamic defensive presence over the last two weeks. He had an absolutely crucial sack of Eli Manning last Monday night, and forced and recovered a Joe Flacco fumble on Baltimore’s first drive of Sunday’s second half to switch the momentum.

Best Yards-After-Contact: Alfred Morris turning a hit after two yards into a five-yard gain — as he did repeatedly — is old hat by this point. But Joshua Morgan is the unexpected winner of the week; the receiver caught a pass at the Baltimore 13, was hit at the 5, and managed to carry a pile of players to the 1. That set up a Morris touchdown to give Washington a 14-7 lead.

Best Yards-After-Contact, Part II: Nah, I take it back. Morris still wins. Morris always wins. In my unofficial stat, approximately 122 of his 122 yards came after contact. Yes, RGIII has helped Morris a lot, but the QB doesn’t help in yards-after-contact.

Best First Drive: Heavens to Betsy, as they say. Ten plays. Eighty yards. Alfred Morris starting the game with a 29-yard run. Morris carrying five times for 46 yards. RGIII extending a 3rd-and-goal play with his feet, re-setting the pocket, then tossing a perfect touchdown strike to Joshua Morgan. It was about the most impressive opening you could imagine.

Worst Response: With an early lead and momentum and excitement and everything else, the Redskins defense then allowed the Ravens to go 81 yards in five plays. Ray Rice carried three times for 63 yards. Joe Flacco completed his only pass for a touchdown. It was about the least impressive (defensive) opening you could imagine.

(And sure, you could give the Ravens defense the worst first drive prize, and the Ravens offense the best first drive prize, but I don’t work in Baltimore.)

Best Underthrow: I’m giving a best prize to the Ravens; Joe Flacco had Torrey Smith for a touchdown near the end of the first quarter, but he wobbled a weak attempt and Josh Wilson was able to get his hand in. That could easily have been a touchdown with a better pass.

Best Open Receivers: I watch a decent amount of hot NFL action. I don’t see receivers running free 20 yards from the line of scrimmage that much. But it seems to happen about every third play for the Skins now. I guess the Shanahani really are smart or something. Note: this seemed to end in the second half.

Worst Penalties: Multiple Redskins seemed to jump offsides on a Baltimore 3rd-and-13 in the first half. That made it a more manageable 3rd-and-8, which the Ravens converted. Later in the same drive, an offsides call against Jarvis Jenkins gave the Ravens another first down. They went on to score a touchdown.

Worst Penalty Call: Niles Paul got called for interfering with a Jacoby Jones fair catch. Niles Paul didn’t touch Jones, and was very nearly past him when Jones muffed the ball. Weird call.

Worst Playing by the Rules: All that said, the Redskins and Ravens entered the game as the NFL’s two most-penalized teams, as Marv Albert reminded us frequently. They didn’t make things much better on Sunday; both teams were flagged for eight penalties.

Best First Quarter: The Redskins gained 186 yards in the first quarter. According to CBS, that was the most yards gained by any team in any first quarter this season. It was the most yards the Skins have gained in a first quarter since a 1997 game against the Bears.

Worst Fumbling Issue: The Redskins’ success this season has had much to do with a positive turnover margin. Alfred Morris, who has been wonderful in nearly every way, isn’t helping that margin lately. His lost fumble in the first half on Sunday was his second lost fumble in his last four quarters.

Worst Get-Well Secondary: Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes in his last three games. He had three in the first half on Sunday. Also, according to ESPN 980′s Chris Russell, opposing tight ends have now caught nine touchdowns against the Redskins this season.

Best Bomb: You can decide for yourself whether Santana Moss should have caught that first-half bomb from RGIII that hit him in the chest, but the arm on this young QB works, even if the receiver is 60 yards away. That’s taking a raw pea and flicking it into a candlestick from 20 paces. It’s just impossible.

Best Non-challenge: No one watching the game understood why that 2nd-and-18 pass to Pierre Garcon in the second quarter — which sure seemed to go for more than 18 yards — gave way to a 3rd-and-1. This is what the admittedly non-exact TV line looked like. We never got a reverse view, but Garcon’s knee was down pretty early, and the ball sure looked like it wasn’t close to the first-down line.

Worst Pitch: So then the Skins were left with a 3rd-and-1 in Baltimore territory. With this offense, that’s four-down territory, and pretty comfortable four-down territory, at that. But Griffin attempted a pitch to Alfred Morris, and the pitch seemed off-target, and the ball squirted away. Morris lost nine yards, and the Redskins punted.

Worst Two-Minute Offense: What in creation were the Ravens attempting to do on their final drive of the first half? From deep in their own territory, they did this: short run, timeout, short pass, QB sneak, timeout, short pass, halftime. The Redskins were out of timeouts. The Ravens ran four plays and gained 18 yards in 44 seconds. Either try to score or don’t. I have no idea what they were up to.

Worst Coverage: Anquan Boldin caught his second touchdown against the occasionally effective coverage plan in which you don’t cover the wide receiver at all and count on his utter confusion to cause a drop and possibly an interception. It didn’t work this time. But you never know.

Best Out-of-town Result: The Buccaneers blew a double-digit lead against the Eagles.

Worst Out-of-town Result: The Cowboys rallied to win, and the Vikings won as underdogs.

Best Big Picture: The Redskins are above .500 in mid-December. That hasn’t happened since 2008.

Worst Big Picture: RGIII left the field in a brace. Hard to know what to feel. I’m going back under the desk.

(Image via @BmoreBrian)

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Sarah Kogod · December 7, 2012

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