Best and worst moments from Washington’s 27-20 loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field.
Worst Momentum Shift, I: Duh. Robert Griffin III threw a perfect 57-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, whose grab gave Washington the lead and sent the FedEx Field crowd into a frenzy. Then officials called it back, on a somewhat controversial call, deciding that the ball was moving on the ground. Then the Redskins botched a snap, leading to a third-and-long. Then the Redskins punted. The frenzy, by this point, had ended. It never really came back.
Worst Momentum Shift, II: Duh. Several minutes after that awful sequence, the Redskins stopped the Lions on a 3rd-and-inches, and everyone was thrilled. Then the Lions converted on 4th-and-inches, and everyone was sad. Then the Lions lost yardage on 1st-and-goal, and people were excited. Then Calvin Johnson somehow caught a touchdown pass in between four defenders, and the game was essentially over.
Worst Drop: Back up for one second: Robinson has to have that ball. He just has to. It’s a perfect pass. His team is potentially fighting for its season. They haven’t had a second-half lead all season. Sure, no one knows exactly what an NFL catch is anymore, and sure, that could have been called a catch. But don’t leave it up to someone else.
Worst Drop, Honorable Mention: Niles Paul dropped a would-be touchdown in the end zone in the final two minutes. It was a wicked tough pass, and Paul’s feet might not have been in-bounds anyhow, but there is a pattern here. Of course, Paul then displayed amazing hands on an ensuing onsides kick attempt, although he was a couple yards short of making a legal play on the ball.
Worst Slide: Robert Griffin III started the second half with a four-yard run. He slid to the ground as he neared the sideline, if you can call collapsing onto your bum like an imploding folding chair “sliding.” Later in the game he dove face-first instead of feet-first, failing to give himself up and then fumbling the ball deep in Detroit territory. The play was a disaster. Bring back Jim Zorn as full-time sliding coach. Bring out the Slip ‘N Slides. Hire Jason Campbell as Senior Sliding Consultant. Do something.
Worst Decision: The Redskins had possibly their best first-half drive of the season going on Sunday. The running game was working, the passing game had time, several receivers were involved, blood-pressure levels were dropping. Then Griffin rolled out, was under duress, had an opportunity to simply throw the ball harmlessly out of bounds, and instead tossed his fourth interception of the season. He had five during his entire rookie campaign. Also, Willie Young, the player who was chasing RGIII down, is a 251-pound defensive end.
Worst Decision Part II: Joshua Morgan, getting rare duty fielding kickoffs, caught a ball like 17 rows deep in the stands, behind an exit row, and then and decided to bring it out. He was tackled at the 13. Tip: If there is enough painted ground in front of you to bury multiple corpses, do not proceed. Take a knee. Someone should come up with a handy phrase about that.
Worst Injuries: The Redskins have four tight ends, and it should be a strength. Sunday, Fred Davis was inactive with an ankle issue, and rookie Jordan Reed went out late with a leg issue. Four became two.
Best Playmaker: How does DeAngelo Hall do it? He is maligned again and again, often for good reason, and yet he manages to score like three touchdowns a year. His 17-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter on Sunday gave him two touchdowns in three games. At that point, he was the only Redskins player — on either side of the ball — to have scored a first-half touchdown this season. (He actually only has eight touchdowns in his career, but it sure feels like more. He and Ronde Barber are now the only players in NFL history with at least four interception returns and four fumble returns for touchdowns.)
Worst Division: The Eagles lost on Thursday. The Giants got stomped on Sunday. The division has one victory against non-NFC East teams. That’s helpful. Maybe it lessens the SEC-of-the-NFL talk, but it’s helpful.
Worst Trend: Observation: Washington teams that win division titles have not been starting their subsequent seasons particularly well in recent months.
Best First Field Goal: John Potter’s first NFL field goal attempt came last week in Green Bay, and it did not inspire confidence. As I recall, it actually traveled parallel
perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. His second NFL field goal attempt came on Sunday, and in a key situation, he hit from 43 yards, straight down the middle, with plenty of length. He hit a second field goal late in the game.
Worst Return Game: Whatever the Redskins are attempting to do in the return game, it doesn’t seem to be working. Kickoffs were returned to the 19, the 22, the 13 and the 25. Punt returns went nowhere. There was nothing even suggesting the potential for a game-breaking play.
Worst Surprise: “Being 0-3,” Mike Shanahan said after the game.
Worst Penalties: All of them. They extended Detroit drives. They nullified multiple Redskins first downs
ends. They led to 3rd-and-long. They ruined an onsides kick. They crushed momentum. They silenced the crowd. Washington finished with 6 penalties for 45 yards, both moderate totals, but they all seemed crucial.
Worst Tackling: The Redskins missed at least four tackles on a 37-yard pass completion to Joique Bell in the first quarter. A few players later, Bell carried the ball 12 yards into the end zone, breaking at least two tackles on the way. Possibly three. Possibly 14,000. This after a week of constant attention paid to the issue of missed tackles. A mannequin made entirely of feathers and Super Glue would bounce off attempted Redskins tackles. In fairness, there were lots of prompt and effective tackles in the second half.
Best Tackle Breaking: When the other team does it, you blame the defenders. When your team does it, you praise the tackle-breaker. Thus, how about that fourth-quarter catch by Pierre Garcon, who was several yards behind the first-down marker, but threw off one would-be tackler and dove through another. That gave the Redskins a first down, and nearly led to a go-ahead touchdown. See above.
Worst Missed Tackle: Brandon Meriweather managed to crash into Brian Orakpo’s head while attempting to make a tackle in the first half. (Watch it here.) The play sidelined Orakpo for the remainder of a touchdown drive, although he soon returned. Still, Meriweather is hitting a lot of people in the head thus far this season.
Best Pre-Game News: Reggie Bush did not play. The running back had averaged 130 all-purpose yards a game through the season’s first two weeks. He also made many Redskins fans very nervous. His replacement, Joique Bell, had not started a game since November of 2009, against Grand Valley State, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Worst Realization: It didn’t matter. Bell still amassed 132 all-purpose yards. He had not started a game since November of 2009, against Grand Valley State. Bell had 150 all-purpose yards in that game, by the way.
Worst Touchdown Dance: Tight end Joseph Fauria leaped to grab a touchdown catch over two Redskins defenders early in the second quarter. Then he did some sort of dance that paid tribute to N’Sync. Not a good thing when rookie tight ends are doing N’Sync dances in your end zone.
Worst Quickness When Being Pursued by Large Defensive Linemen in the Backfield Despite 4.3 Speed: RGIII.
Best Recovery: I joined many others in criticizing Sav Rocca a few times this season. He was great on Sunday, placing shorter punts at the 9 and the 10 and launching longer punts of 60 and 63 yards.
Best Touchdown: Alfred Morris trucked to the right for a 30-yard rushing touchdown late in the first half. It tied the score. It gave Washington its first offensive touchdown in the first half. It got the crowd back into the game. And it set up a second half in which the Redskins would not be out of contention.
Worst Streaks: Heading into their bye week in 2012, the Redskins lost three straight games. Then they went on that memorable run, rattling off seven straight victories to storm into the playoffs. And going back to that playoff game, they have now lost four straight.
Worst Streak Talk: Why did the Fox broadcast crew spend 400 hours talking about Detroit’s history of losing in Washington most of those games were played decades ago many of them were played in different stadiums no one cares about dumb stats like that stupid stupid stupid stupid.
Worst Other Streak: Griffin now has more than 300 passing yards in every Redskins game this season. And the team is 0-3. There could be a correlation.
Worst Title: Dick Stockton called RGIII “Robert Griffin Jr.” Twice. He has the most distinctive nickname in the NFL, and Stockton botched it twice. And he called the Redskins “the Red Sox.” And he said Garcon caught a 27-year pass. No, I’ve never misspoken or had a typo, why do you ask?
Worst Analyst: Stockton’s partner, Ronde Barber, offered several bits of analysis that left me wondering what he was talking about. He made lots of people wonder the same thing online. That’s bad analyzing. An analyst should properly offer white noise that doesn’t catch your attention in between trying to figure out which way replay decisions will go.
Best Defensive Start: For two weeks, Redskins fans have pointed out that London Fletcher’s name was rarely called by game announcers. He seemed completely missing. On the first play Sunday, Fletcher sacked Matthew Stafford for a seven-yard loss. After a single first down, the Redskins forced a Detroit punt, which was a massive victory.
Worst Description: Stockton then called Fletcher “The Old Man From the Sea.” What sea? He’s from Cleveland. He lives in Virginia. Seriously, I don’t get it. The Sun Also Rises, though.
Best Offensive start: On their first play, the Redskins gave the ball to Pierre Garcon for a 10-yard rushing gain. On their second play, Alfred Morris ran for nine yards. On their fifth play, RGIII kept the ball on an option-read and gained seven yards. It was like 2012′s dominant rushing offensive attack all over again. It was A Moveable Feast, A Clean Well-Lighted Place.
Worst Ending: But in the end? Death in the Afternoon, as a smart person noted. Can’t do any better than that.