Redskins-Falcons best and worst

(Via Fox)
(Via Fox)

Best and worst moments from Washington’s 27-26 loss to the Falcons in Atlanta.

Best Decision: Much love to Mike Shanahan for going for the two-point conversion and the win when Washington scored with less than 20 seconds remaining. That’s possibly the only decision of his I’ve agreed with over the last week. Or maybe month. Or season. I know many disagreed with this one, too, but what’s more common in the NFL: seven-point underdogs winning on the road, or teams converting two-point conversions? It’s the latter. With the offense cruising and Kirk Cousins in rhythm, go win the game.

Best Drive: Down by a touchdown, on the road, Kirk Cousins led the Redskins 80 yards in just over three minutes, taking his team to the brink of victory. Cousins was 10-for-13 for 85 yards and a touchdown on the drive. Well done. Of course, it all ended in familiar fashion: with a loss.

Best Timeout Preservation: The Redskins never have timeouts at the end of the game. Ever. Somehow, entering their final drive on Sunday, they had all three. It was a pleasant surprise.

Worst Ball Security: Washington set an NFL record by turning the ball over every single time they touched it on Sunday. Ok, not quite. But there were an amazing five lost fumbles and two interceptions. That was the most turnovers Washington has committed during a season lousy with turnovers. The Redskins now have 29 turnovers this season, after turning it over just 14 times in 2012. Also, the Falcons had forced 12 turnovers in their first 13 games this season. That’s a slightly slower rate than they went with on Sunday.

Worst Day: Alfred Morris had lost four fumbles in 29 regular-season games before Sunday. He lost a pair on Sunday, both deep in Atlanta territory.

Worst Rule Following: Among the penalties called in this game: a personal foul against DeAngelo Hall, an unnecessary roughness against Sean Weatherspoon, an illegal block above the waist against Stansly Maponga, a face mask against Steven Jackson, a clipping call against Lamar Holmes, a personal foul for blocking out of bounds against Dominique Franks, and a pass interference call against London Fletcher. Those were all major penalties.

Best Turnaround: Down 14-0 in Atlanta, turning the ball over on virtually every play, the Redskins somehow rallied, and the Falcons began playing like a much worse three-win team, and the Redskins ran into the locker room with a 20-17 lead. I truly believed the Redskins would lose that game by 21 points. I was wrong.

Worst Quarter: Washington’s explosive offense disappeared in the third quarter. The Redskins went three-and-out, interception, three-and-0ut, three-and-out. They also went from having a lead, to trailing by four.

(John Bazemore/AP) (John Bazemore/AP)

Best Pass Rush: Brian Orakpo gets a lot of grief from Redskins fans — for not showing up in big games, for celebrating during losses, for not living up to his draft status — but his final numbers this season will look pretty good. He had 1.5 more sacks on Sunday, giving him 10 for the season. That gives him double digits for the first time since his rookie year in 2009.

Best Goal-Line Stand: The Falcons went for it on 4th-and-goal from just a few inches shy of the goal-line in the third quarter. Perry Riley blasted Steven Jackson, and kept the big back from getting there. Hard to run with “this team has quit” narratives after seeing a stand like that.

Worst Interception: On the next play, throwing from his own end zone, Kirk Cousins tossed a bad one to William Moore. Hard to know the route exactly, but the ball was a good two Aldrick Robinsons away from Aldrick Robinson. Atlanta scored on the next play to take the lead.

Worst Decision: Playing terribly, trapped deep in their own territory, with less than a minute left in the first half, the Falcons decided to throw deep. Matt Ryan was intercepted by Jose Gumbs. The Redskins wound up with a field goal to take the lead. It’s not like the Falcons covered the field with glory on this day.

Worst Opening Drive: With Kirk Cousins on the defensive line, Kirk Cousins at outside linebacker, and three Kirk Cousins in the defensive backfield, the Redskins somehow allowed Atlanta to stroll down the field on the game’s opening drive. Despite the spark provided by Cousins, the Falcons converted three third downs, and moved 83 yards in 14 plays.

Worst Other Opening Drive: Ohhhhh, you want the worst thing to happen in Washington’s opening drive? How about constant pressure on Kirk Cousins, culminating with him fumbling the ball right after a near-interception, leading to Atlanta’s second touchdown. RGIII could have done that. A particularly well-trained corgi puppy could have done that. Very low to the ground, though. Hard to sack a corgi.

Best Quote: ESPN 980’s Kevin Sheehan to Sonny Jurgensen, during the Redskins Radio Network pre-game show: “I’d ask you for a prediction, but who cares.” If that didn’t make you think of Major League….

Best Pass: How about that pass from Cousins to Fred Davis near the end of the first quarter? Nice play fake, but immaculate delivery. Two months ago, you would not have predicted that the Redskins would be relying on Cousins-to-Davis to save themselves from being blown out on the road.

Best Other Pass: Or how about that 62-yard second-quarter bomb from Cousins to Aldrick Robinson, who caught the ball virtually in stride? Griffin tried to hook up deep with Robinson several times this season; it mostly didn’t work. That was Washington’s longest pass play of the season.

Best Third Pass: Or maybe it was the time Cousins hung in the pocket, shifted a bit, and delivered a perfect pass to Pierre Garcon for a 53-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The Redskins hadn’t had two 50-plus-yard completions in a game this season; against Atlanta, they had two in the first half.

(/David Goldman/AP) (/David Goldman/AP)

Worst Prelude to a Controversy: I mean, we haven’t heard this on the record yet. But stay tuned for another week of controversy.

Worst Beginning of a Controversy: “All the Cousins thing is doing is backing what Shanahan has said all along,” Terry Bradshaw said at halftime. “If you run through your progressions and run this offense properly, then this offense is a winning offense….Maybe a little controversy?”

Worst Fumble: Right after the bomb to Robinson, Alfred Morris fumbled. Atlanta recovered. That was Washington’s third lost fumble in the game’s first 20 minutes. That’s not easy to do.

Best Fumble: I don’t know, best follies? Best JV NFL game? Best way to spend an afternoon if you like humorous hijinks? Anyhow, on the next play, Atlanta fumbled — credit Ryan Kerrigan with the force, and Brian Orakpo with the recovery — and Washington wound up just losing nine yards.

Worst Fumble: Hold up! Because on the very next play, Santana Moss fumbled! That made it four lost fumbles for Washington in 21 minutes!  The Falcons were also guilty of two personal fouls after that play.

Best Non-Fumble: On the next snap, the Falcons didn’t fumble. They did commit a false start, though.

Worst Would-Be Fumble: Matt Ryan was scrambling for a sure first down a few plays later when he maybe attempted to pass the ball underhand or maybe it slipped out of his hand or maybe he was just thinking about the Austro-Hungarian Empire and whether or not they had soy milk back then. Anyhow, it could have been called a fumble or an incompletion or a ZX-Mango-3, and I wouldn’t have argued. I don’t really know if any of this stuff is best or worst. It’s just stuff.

Best Summary of All That: Here ya go.

Worst Injury: Trent Williams briefly exited the game with an injury that was never exactly explained. Tom Compton entered. On his first play, he helped force a fumble in a collision with Alfred Morris. It was one of those fumbles mentioned above. Just scroll up. Hard to keep track.

Worst Matchup: London Fletcher and Tony Gonzalez are both old. Both have more than 15 years of NFL experience. They were often matched up on Sunday. Gonzalez often got the better of it. He finished with 6 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown, and also drew a long pass interference call against Fletcher.

Worst Tackle: Josh Wilson was at the goal-line. Steven Jackson wanted to go past the goal-line. So Steven Jackson ran into Josh Wilson, and Wilson fell over. A bedsheet backed by a particularly sturdy piece of cardboard could have provided a similar level of resistance.

Worst Penalty: DeAngelo Hall got a personal foul penalty for a late hit. No I’m serious guys. I promise. That’s a thing that really happened. In an NFL football game. DeAngelo Hall, believe it or not, hit a guy later than you’re allowed to and he was penalized. For a late hit. A hit delivered by DeAngelo Hall. Not making this up.

Worst Special Teams Blunder: And get this, the Redskins had a disastrous turn of events on special teams. Kind of hard to tell exactly what happened on Santana Moss’s second-quarter fumbled punt return, but the end result was Atlanta ball at the Redskins’ 14-yard line. The defense rose up, though, and held Atlanta to a field goal.

(John Bazemore/AP) (John Bazemore/AP)

Worst Insight: Ohhhhhhh, so he’s not going to just burn that $7 million he’s owed in the middle of the Redskins practice bubble and then storm out while cursing at Dan Snyder, Bruce Allen the the secretaries? Cool insight.

Best One-Liner: People, there were so many one-liners. Here was one good one. It was so good that at least three NFL people came up with it.

Worst Atmosphere: That Georgia Dome place looked deader this week than FedEx Field looked last week, in a snow storm. At least FedEx Field was kind of atmospheric, briefly, when the flakes were coming down. Were I in charge of Atlanta: fake snow. True story: I was Tiny Tim in the Christmas Carol once, and I swallowed a piece of fake snow during the closing credits, and I was all like gagging and stuff when I was supposed to be bowing.

Worst Misinformation: Art Monk once had 106 receptions in a season. That means that Pierre Garcon has not broken the franchise single-season receptions record. At least, not yet. (He is now second, though.)

Worst Pre-Game Report: Every week, there is a bad pre-game report. Here’s a highlight from this week’s, via Jason LaCanfora:

Conversations with several people within the organization have revealed a similar perception of Kyle Shanahan as someone who was empowered and enabled by his father, spending an abundance of time in his father’s office, given a wide swath of power, and rubbing many people — players, fellow coaches and members of football operations — the wrong way….“Kyle is the head coach, it’s just that no one knows he is,” said one member of the organization. “He gets whatever he wants. And he has no relationship at all with (quarterback Robert Griffin II). So how could it work?”

Worst Season: The Redskins have now lost six straight games, moving from 3-5 to 3-11. They need to win one of their final two games to avoid 3-13. Washington has not finished 3-13 since 1994, Norv Turner’s first season. Aside from ’94, the Redskins have won at least four games in every season since 1964. This one could be truly memorable.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.

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Dan Steinberg · December 15, 2013