Best and worst moments from the Redskins’ 24-17 loss to the Giants Sunday night at FedEx Field.
Worst Chain Gang: Officials seemed to give the Redskins a first down on their final drive, and so the chain gang seemed to move, and so the Redskins then threw deep (and incomplete) on 1st-and-10, but then officials said that had actually been 3rd-and-short, which meant it was now 4th-and-short, and the announcers went crazy, and Mike Shanahan went crazy, and fans went crazy, and a terrible game ended in terrible fashion. Put this game tape into an incinerator and let’s try again tomorrow.
Worst Fumble: Pierre Garcon was irate several times during the game. He appeared to show frustration toward teammates, or toward the field, or toward himself, or toward the terrifying unknowns of human life. When you do that, you’re not allowed to fumble away the ball during the game’s final drive.
Worst Drops: Everyone in charge of catching the ball during Washington’s final, desperate drive, in which all ball catchers appeared desperate to not hold onto the ball.
Worst Record on Primetime: RGIII and the associated excitement earned Washington five primetime appearances this season. The Redskins lost ’em all.
Worst Job Maintaining Double-Digit Leads on Primetime: You tell me. No, seriously. You, dear reader, tell me which team that is. Use the Vikings game for assistance.
Worst Enthusiasm: Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth kept trying to convince each other that the close score meant this was actually a good and compelling football product. It was not. This was mom and dad, taking the family to Arby’s when the oven explodes on Thanksgiving, and trying to convince each other that this was actually better than being at home. Look how nice those posters are on the wall! See how juicy this beef stuff is! I admired their effort, but they clearly were more excited about next week’s matchup between two good teams than this week’s matchup between two blah ones. I kept imagining brave interns pinching the announcers on their ankles every time they got a tad listless.
Worst Sound: When Victor Cruz caught passes, the fans chanted “Cruuuuuuuuuz” and it was easy to hear on the television. The only problem was — get this — the game was played in Landover. Like, the Giants were the road team. Weird stuff. You could also hear a pretty decent “Let’s Go Giants” chant during Washington’s final drive.
Worst Slides: Robert Griffin III slides with the grace of a three-legged elk on ice.
Best Misleading Use of an Image: Me. (The top image was taken early in the game, before things went bad. But it felt appropriate.)
Worst Challenge: Mike Shanahan wins this award again. He wins this award a lot. This week, he won for challenging forward progress on a Giants completion, and losing both the challenge and a timeout late in a one-score game. Washington was out of timeouts with more than three minutes left in the fourth quarter. If you didn’t challenge calls that were called correctly, you would have more timeouts. Theoretically.
Best Player: Justin Tuck had four sacks. That’s too many. He had 2.5 sacks in 2013 entering this game. He also chased down Robert Griffin III from behind. Tuck weighs a lot more than RGIII. But I guess he had a head of steam.
Best Job Eluding Defenders and Completing a Pass: Eli Manning. Hahahahahah I’m funny and make funny jokes. No, seriously though. Manning was kind of wrapped up and still stayed up and completed a third-down pass in the fourth quarter and the Giants went on to get a crucial field goal.
Best (Washington) Play: When things seemed grim in the third quarter — a tie score, and the Giants appearing to have momentum — Brandon Meriweather snatched a tipped passs and returned it 32 yards to the New York 12.
Worst Series: On the ensuing series, the Redskins went with a short RGIII run, an RGIII incompletion, and an RGIII incompletion that really should have been intercepted. I kind of thought the Redskins had one of the most productive running backs in the NFL, but whatever. Anyhow, the Redskins didn’t get a first down, and then Pierre Garcon kicked the ball into the stands in frustration, and then — after a penalty — Kai Forbath kicked the ball through the goal posts. Possibly in frustration. Not sure.
Worst Other Series: Well, maybe it was actually the one early in the fourth quarter, when the Redskins went sack, pitch to Santana Moss, sack, punt. Your “sacks” should not out-number your “non-sacks.”
Worst Other Other Series: But hold on just a second. Because there was another series in the fourth quarter in which the Redskins got a first down, and then went sack, dropped pass to Pierre Garcon, ball thrown the length of Aldrick Robinson past the actual Aldrick Robinson.
Worst Field: Always and forever, friends, always and forever. Like I said a week ago, maybe all East Coast natural grass fields will look poorly in December. I watch Redskins games much closer than I watch other games. But it sure seemed like multiple players slipped, and multiple players kicked the ground in frustration, and multiple big honking pieces of mud and grass were gouged out of the playing surface, which is something we’ve seen for several years in a row around this time. Just turn the thing into an obstacle course with hurdles and ponds and stuff. Make it distinctive, at least.
Worst Composure: Always and forever, friends, always and forever. In one stretch of the third quarter, the Redskins committed five infractions in 11 snaps. (Not plays, because plays don’t count if there are penalties, except in our hearts and souls, and in this item.) The pinnacle, of course, was the above-mentioned Garcon kick, which would have been great in some strange Australian sport, but is not legal in American football. Later, DeAngelo Hall added a personal foul for good measure.
Best Early Drive: The Redskins scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the first time this season, and the first time since Dec. 9, 2012. It was a great drive, too! Robert Griffin III completed all five of his pass attempts, and also converted a fourth-down run. Fred Davis got involved, with a 12-yard grab. And eight different skill-position guys touched the ball.
Best Passing Start: In fact, Griffin completed his first 12 passes, for 111 yards and a touchdown. That’s 12-for-12. Against the 49ers a week ago, he was 16-of-26 for 118 yards and zero touchdowns. So his first 20 minutes this week were better than his entire 60 minutes a week ago.
Second-Best Passing Start: And yet Eli Manning matched RGIII completion for completion. The Giants QB completed 1o of his first 12 passes, which meant the two quarterbacks were a combined 26-for-29 for 250 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions at halftime.
Best Emergence: As the focus turns to 2014, plenty of people have been wondering about Brian Orakpo’s future. The linebacker made one of his strongest arguments of the season Sunday night, recording two sacks, making four tackles and drawing a holding call. That all gave him 5.5 sacks in his last four games.
Worst Coverage: This was the Giants’ second touchdown. That’s a lot of burgundy guys, surrounding one blue-and-white guy, but not surrounding him too closely. (Via @xmasape)
Worst Two-Minute Drill: On the one hand, the Redskins turned nothing into something with their drive at the end of the first half, using the “eh, maybe we’ll try for a few plays and see what happens” philosophy to advance to the Giants’ 39-yard line in about 30 seconds. On the other hand, that something turned into nothing when RGIII decided to scramble for 20 yards and then step out-of-bounds with time expired. I guess that’s better than a Hail Mary returned for a pick six.
Best Running Threat: Helped in part by that run, Griffin finished the night as Washington’s most productive runner. He had 12 carries for 88 yards; Alfred Morris had just 11 carries for 26 yards.
Best Special Teams Play: So many bad special-teams plays this year. Here was a good one: E.J. Biggers batting the ball out of the end zone on Washington’s first punt, and Perry Riley downing it inside the 1.
Worst Special Teams Play: A horrendous snap on a third-quarter punt led to a bad, 18-yard punt punt. Plus the Redskins held on the play, which added 10 yards in the wrong direction. If you’ve already poured a glass of spoiled milk, you might as well add some expired pickle juice. “A very short, ugly little boot,” Al Michaels said. “It’s almost amazing to me that can happen on a play,” Cris Collinsworth added.
Best Field Position: Washington’s first three drives began at their own 27-, 47- and 41-yard lines. That’s a pretty drastic shift for a team that has had some of the worst starting field position in recent NFL history for much of this season.
Best Narrative Reversal: A week after drama about whether RGIII’s linemen pick him off after sacks, Griffin headed to the sideline, knocked over Josh LeRibeus, and then picked up the street-clothed offensive lineman. It couldn’t have been staged any better.
Best Addition to the Passing Game: I believe I have incorrectly argued that Alfred Morris is not a threat in the passing game. Turns out the Redskins just never gave him a chance. In Washington’s first 11 games of the season, Morris had 3 grabs for 22 yards. Sunday night, he had 3 catches for 27 yards.
Worst Missed Chance: Near the end of the second quarter, NBC cameras showed Roy Helu streaking down the sidelines, behind his man. Griffin instead scrambled for a five-yard gain.
Worst Slip: Of all the hits RGIII has taken this season, among the scariest was self-inflicted, when he slipped on the sidelines Sunday night and appeared to hit the wall awkwardly. He popped back up and was fine, but he was on the ground long enough for everyone to mention Gus Frerotte. (Via @DCSportShopped)
Best Early Defense: The Redskins, as noted, know an awful lot about terribly slow offensive starts. The Giants offense took over this week, but let’s chalk that up to defense, because why not? New York’s first six plays on Sunday night gained five yards. (Of course, the next six plays went for 74 yards, which was less good.)
Worst Third-Down Run: On 3rd-and-1 in the second quarter, Evan Royster gained zero. It never really appeared that he would gain more than zero on that particular play. “Play to gain zero” is a poor choice on 3rd-and-1. This was a running back running a play for a fullback, and it looked like it.
Best Milestone: Pierre Garcon set a career high for receiving yards on Sunday night. Burn every other part of his Sunday night game tape.
Best Jokes About Kick Returns: Ok, Adam Gettis’s second-quarter kickoff return wasn’t really that great. The 290-pounder fielded the ball at the 22, and returned it five yards to the 27. But that was still better than Washington’s typical field position.
Worst Play: One one third-down play, Santana Moss was flagged for a 10-yard holding penalty, and a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. The Giants only benefited from the latter call, but you never want to commit two infractions on one play.
Worst Pre-Game Inactive List: Tight end Jordan Reed, one of the team’s two biggest weapons in the passing game, was inactive after suffering a concussion and then pre-game headaches. Fullback Darrel Young was inactive too. So was tight end Niles Paul. That left running back Evan Royster as the fullback, and Fred Davis — long a resident of the doghouse — as a part of the offense.
Worst Pre-Game Results: In case you still cared, both the Cowboys and the Eagles won this week, moving to 7-5. That essentially eliminated the Redskins from playoff consideration before they even kicked off with the Giants.
Worst Pre-Game Excitement: Comcast SportsNet’s Rob Carlin, on the field during the network’s pre-game show, was asked to describe the atmosphere at FedEx Field. “There is none,” he said.
Worst Pre-Game Hype Man: “It’s two bad football teams playing each other,” ESPN 980’s Chris Cooley said during the Redskins Radio Network pre-game show.
Worst Pre-Game Omen: Via my pal Dan Graziano:
The inflatable Redskins helmet through which players run onto field appears to have malfunctioned and been put away. Tough year.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) December 2, 2013
See also this:
— Kent Zakour (@KZakour) December 2, 2013
Best Summary: “They’re just not a good team,” Shawn Springs said on Comcast SportsNet’s post-game show. “It’s disappointing. They’re just not good.”