Redskins-Chargers best and worst

November 3, 2013

(Alex Brandon/AP)

Best and worst moments from the Redskins’ 30-24 overtime win over the Chargers at FedEx Field on Sunday.

Best Coin Flips: The Redskins started this season by losing their first six coin flips. Then they won the flip in Denver. Then they won the flip against the Chargers. And then they won the flip that really really mattered: the one to start overtime on Sunday. Washington got the ball first, and marched down to score the game-winning touchdown, while Philip Rivers watched from the sidelines.

Best Drive: The offense was up and down again on Sunday, but the last drive was up up up. Of Washington’s 10 plays on that final drive, five went for at least nine yards, and a sixth was Darrel Young’s four-yard touchdown run. The pass-run ration was 6-4, which feels like the sweet spot for this offense.

Best Touchdown Vulture: I don’t play fantasy football anymore, but if I did, I imagine I’d confront someone complaining about Washington’s touchdown vultures. Against the Bears a few weeks back, Alfred Morris led the team in carries and yards, but Roy Helu Jr. had three touchdowns. Sunday, Morris again did most of the work — carrying 25 times for 121 yards. But Darrel Young — on just five carries — had a pair of one-yard touchdown carries, that overtime game-winner, and a dang good celebration.

Best Goal-Line Stand: In the final minute San Diego had the ball inside the Washington 1-yard line, with two timeouts, and every bit of momentum in the world. Somehow, a run and two passes got them bupkis, and the game improbably went to overtime. I would have bet my laptop the Chargers would have scored there. Then I’d have been forced to blog via megaphone on street corner.

Worst Playcalling: That said, if I’m the Chargers and I have two timeouts there, I’d probably choose to run the ball at least two times. And maybe the ball carrier I’d turn to would weigh more than a nutrition bar. Even more than one coated in yogurt.

Worst Pre-Goal-Line-Stand: Everything about that final Chargers drive in regulation, besides the result, ripped your guts out. (If you were a Redskins fan.) Receivers caught passes and made it out-of-bounds. Philip Rivers, who has the speed of a turnip, ran nine yards and made it out-of-bounds. The Redskins — the Redskins — called a timeout. Keenan Allen had more empty space around him than Mike Wise at a Redskins pep rally. And Danny Woodhead came a few sheets of lettuce shy of demolishing Washington’s season.

Best Replay Review: There were two controversial replay reviews involving Danny Woodhead. The first went against Washington; a possible fumble was ruled not to be a fumble. The second went in Washington’s favor, big-time. Woodhead’s crazed leap for the pylon in the final minute was (correctly, in my view) judged to have come up just inches short. Without that, there was no overtime, and no Washington win. “If that play would have stood, I would have been one pissed-off individual,” David Amerson told Comcast SportsNet after the game.

(Alex Brandon/AP)
(Alex Brandon/AP)

Worst Job Killing Time: When you have the ball with less than three minutes left and a three-point lead, here are things that don’t help: holding penalties on second down, and incomplete passes on third down. The Redskins chose both options on this day. That helped San Diego get the ball back outside the two-minute warning.

Best Third Down Conversions: Passes, runs, quarterback sneaks: everything worked. The Redskins were dominant on third downs on Sunday, and that’s largely why they won. They converted 12 of 17 third downs, including 7 0f 7 on their final three touchdown drives.

Best Interception: Another reason they won: they were on the right side of the turnover differential this time. There were two random interceptions in the game, one by each team, but David Amerson made a fantastic play on a Philip Rivers pass in the fourth quarter to stop a promising Chargers drive. He broke on the ball well, and he wrested the ball away from Keenan Allen. This was what people dreamed about when they saw Amerson’s 13-interception season at N.C. State in 2011. Things they did not dream about: Amerson watching Allen help the Chargers nearly win the game.

Best Player: And another big reason they won: Pierre Garcon. Whether he is or isn’t a classic No. 1 wide receiver is a classic sports-radio debate; he doesn’t dominate an entire game the way a Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant might, but he drove Washington’s offense on Sunday. He made seven catches — two of which were ridiculously good — which went for a career-high 172 yards. This from a guy who had just said his team’s passing game sucks.

Best Streak Breaker: By holding Washington scoreless in the first quarter, the Chargers set a franchise record with 12 consecutive quarters in which the opponents didn’t reach the end zone. Alfred Morris ended that streak in the second quarter, going in from five yards out to tie the game. The Redskins would reach the end zone three more times.

Worst Field Position: Washington’s first two drives started at the 1, and at the 1. I guess if you want to maximize your potential yards-per-drive, that’s ideal. Otherwise, not so much.

Worst Regression: The Redskins don’t win the NFC East without Kai Forbath last year. I’ll forever believe that. He was as perfect as perfect can be. That said, what the heck’s going on? Dating to last season, Forbath has now made just 5 of his last 10 field-goal attempts. (In fairness, one of those was a monster 47-yarder in the fourth quarter to put the Redskins up by 10 on Sunday.)

Best Momentum Stopper: Disaster seemed imminent in the first half, after a blocked field goal and then an interception caught for a touchdown. San Diego was driving again, when Philip Rivers suddenly threw a most excellent pass directly into the arms of E.J. Biggers. If the Chargers scored there, things could have gotten ugly early.

Worst Penalty Call: Maybe the announcers got the name wrong, or CBS got the shot wrong, but otherwise that was the weirdest pass interference call I’ve ever seen late in the first half. Rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen, who was named as the perp, did not touch any Redskins before catching a pass, nor was he touched. I mean, this was less contact than you’d see at a middle-school chess club formal.

(Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)
(Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

Best Hands: San Diego defensive end Lawrence Guy used his hands to block a short field goal, and to block a short pass that was then intercepted for a touchdown. (Well, that was more of his arms, really.) I’m not sure whether Guy has abnormally large hands and arms, or whether they somehow attract footballs at an abnormal rate, but those were two large plays from a guy who had just been waived by the Colts last month.

Best Hands (Runner-Up): Corey Liuget, another defensive lineman, blocked two consecutive Griffin passes near the end of the first half. Both batted balls flew up high in the air, leading to much stress and many heart palpitations. Then, at the end of that same drive, Liuget blocked another field goal. In other words, it didn’t take 11 years between blocks this time.

Worst Trend: For the second time in two home games, the Redskins were penalized for a false start from their own 1. I guess you’re not costing yourself too much real estate when you do that, but maybe just for confidence it’d be best to keep those extra few inches. Like, Papa John’s pizza is starting at your own 1; moldy Papa John’s pizza is taking a penalty from your own 1.

Worst Other Trend: CBS reported that the Redskins have allowed either a special teams or a defensive touchdown in five straight games. This time, the blow came early, with the Chargers intercepting that tipped pass in the end zone for a touchdown.

Worst Other Other Trend: The Redskins offense has still not scored a touchdown in a first quarter this season. Seeing as how there are only four quarters in typical NFL games, that’s not helpful. Of course, this game sort of had five quarters — quintiles, I guess — and the Redskins scored in each of the final four.

Best/Worst Play: Robert Griffin III’s 10-yard run-and-leap for a first down late in the third quarter was spectacular, and dangerous. I guess if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it on a third down, in the second half of a tied game that’s as close to a must-win as you can get. Still scary. And definitely spectacular. Watch it here.

Worst Job Taking a Timeout Right After a Delay of Game Penalty: The Redskins. Didn’t wind up hurting them this time, but geez, that seems like tempting fate.

Worst Helmet Bounces: Philip Rivers threw a bad pass that hit Perry Riley’s helmet; the ricochet, though, landed outside anyone’s reach. Griffin threw a pass that was batted into a helmet and then landed in the gut of Sean Lissemore for a touchdown.

Best Option Plays: Last year, the Redskins’ offense did fun and different stuff that was successful, and so everyone loved it. This year, the fun and different stuff hasn’t worked all that much, and everyone hates it. The first drive Sunday, though, included an option pitch to Jordan Reed — yes, to a tight end — who ran for 18 yards and a first down. Then, during the first drive of the second half, Griffin pitched right to Santana Moss, who also gained 18 yards rushing.

Worst Special Teams Breakdown: Well, no Chargers returned any punts or kickoffs or blocked punts for touchdowns. That was good. Also, the special teams coach didn’t run into any officials. Also good. But Washington’s first field-goal attempt — which followed an impressive 16-play drive — was blocked. San Diego hadn’t blocked a field-goal attempt in 175 games, the longest streak in the NFL, according to CBS’s broadcast. Before the first half ended, they blocked another one. If there’s a special teams play that hasn’t gone wrong at some point this season, I’m not able to think of it right now.

Best Special Teams Plays: There were two big ones when the Redskins really needed ‘em: a 47-yard Kai Forbath field goal to make it a two-possession game, and a Sav Rocca punt that put San Diego at its own 8 to start the Chargers final drive.

Worst Thing That Always Happens: DeAngelo Hall has been exceptional this year. Certainly one of the team’s best players. But dangitall, he does get those 15-yard personal foul penalties more than the average player, right? I mean, this isn’t just a perception unsupported by facts, is it? Someone do the research for me. After that crucial first-half interception by E.J. Biggers on Sunday, Hall somehow came up with a 15-yard personal foul penalty. The Redskins scored anyhow.

Worst Refrain: “And he’s brought down short of the 20″ is something that announcers seem to say after an awful lot of Redskins kickoff returns. Absent one all-guts punt return from Joshua Morgan, the return game has been a bust this year

Best Tight End Depth: A lot of Redskins fans would like to see Fred Davis on the field, because he seems to be a talented receiver. At the same time, the Redskins managed to complete passes to three different tight ends on Washington’s first drive of the game; Jordan Reed caught two for 22 yards, Niles Paul caught one for seven, and Logan Paulsen caught one for six. Not too many teams will involve three tight ends on one drive. At halftime, the Redskins tight ends had as many catches (five) as the Redskins wide receivers.

Worst Body Language: On Washington’s very first snap, Robert Griffin III’s throw was off-target and incomplete, and Pierre Garcon slammed his hands into the ground in frustration. After a week of some locker room turbulence, a jog back to the huddle and a pat on the butt may have been a better option.

Best Progress: Brandon Meriweather tackled a man in the open field by attacking a body part other than the head. Yes, it was the knees, and the CBS halftime crew debated whether this was good or bad for the NFL. Regardless, it’s clearly good for the Redskins, since he didn’t get penalized.

Worst Pre-Game Report: ESPN reported Sunday morning that there would be additional Prince George’s County officers behind the Redskins bench because of the recent controversies about the team’s name. Spokespersons for the Redskins and the Prince George’s County Police Department both said that was not true. Not sure how you get that one wrong.

 

Best Catch: For the second week in a row, Pierre Garcon made an absolutely absurd catch. This time, he was being interfered with, and he still came down with a 38-yard grab that seemed impossible.

Best Response: Griffin did plenty of things wrong on this day, from all the tipped passes, to several balls that were off-target, to the delay-of-game call. That said, after facing more criticism than ever over the past week, he completed 23-of-32 passes for 291 yards, and was back to looking like a franchise quarterback on the game-winning drive.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg · November 3, 2013