As we eagerly anticipate the 2013 season, we spend a lot of time kicking around the things we did and didn’t see in 2012. Yet because it was so long ago, unless you go back and watch each game, some details blur together, and others are forgotten entirely.
There are 18 weekdays in July before training camp gets underway, giving us a great opportunity to rewatch last year’s 17 games. If you have access to NFL Rewind, or a home DVR that hasn’t since been overrun with Real Housewives of Wherever episodes, please play along. Here are my instant observations from watching the condensed version of the Redskins-Saints game, the first time I’ve seen it since the week it took place. They’re just meant to bring back a few memories and start conversation, not provide deep analysis:
As I begin, I vaguely remember that the Saints — bounty punishments and all — were still supposed to be mighty, and the Redskins a work in progress. I’m expecting to rewatch and see much more amazement at Griffin than anyone at the time anticipated. I’ll go quarter by quarter and see if that’s the most interesting way to do this.
The 2012 season starts with the defense forcing a three-and-out. Always a good omen.
Brandon Banks sighting. Had started to forget about him.
Redskins show off their new toys right away. Robert Griffin to Pierre Garcon completions sandwiched around a Griffin run. It was five plays in before Alfred Morris got a touch, seven before Santana Moss, and the first play of the second quarter before Griffin threw downfield.
Billy Cundiff sighting. Had started to forget about him.
The Redskins come right back following the TD with The Griffining play. The 88-yard TD to Garcon. As good a play as it is by Griffin and Garcon, I’m left wondering what the heck the Saints defense was looking at during that play. Way out of place. Anyway, two possessions for the Redskins, 10 points, all positive plays.
Three possessions and it’s 17-7. Griffin caps a long drive with a TD pass to Aldrick Robinson. Roy Helu, Fred Davis and Darrel Young all got touches during the drive. The offense is looking like a juggernaut. The benefit of hindsight reminds us that every offense looked like a juggernaut against the Saints.
Another possession leads to another field goal. Four touches, 20 points. The 7:50 mark of the second quarter is the first time we get to see Griffin make something out of nothing. To this point, he’s been an efficient passer and a game manager who can run. There hasn’t been a need for Robert Griffin III, Magician to show up yet.
The defense is having a pretty nice series. Even though it’s pretty hard to get to Drew Brees, he’s being forced to get rid of it, hit checkdowns or throw short and have his playmakers make something happen. And usually a gang of burgundy jerseys are there.
Graham just stiff-armed DeJon Gomes bad. Ouch.
Brees hits Marques Colston over the middle for big gains twice in the span of four plays. The second time, Colston fumbles before crossing the goal line, and the ball squirts through the back of the end zone for a touchback. Redskins dodge a bullet there. It’s 20-7 when it could easily be 20-14.
Griffin broken play, a nice Evan Royster run and Royster coming up short on third down behind Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery. The Saints execute a textbook blocked punt and it is 20-14. A rusher comes right up the middle and takes the ball off Sav Rocca‘s foot, and it bounces right to Courtney Roby for the easy TD. Big momentum play for the Saints.
First interesting play is at 13:03. Griffin keeps on a designed option, and lets the play get strung out toward the sideline, where he is drilled high-low by LB Curtis Lofton and FS Malcolm Jenkins. It starts with a fake handoff to Morris on the short side of the field, then Griffin reverses out and tucks the ball pretty quickly like he’s running. Helu trails like it’s an option play, but Griffin isn’t holding the ball like he plans to pitch it. I’m guessing that wasn’t how they drew it up.
Later, Helu comes up short on third and two, and the Redskins go for it on fourth and inches from the Saints’ 33. New Orleans doesn’t bite on the play action, and Griffin, as he rolls out, heaves toward Robinson in the end zone. Robinson is blanketed by Roman Harper. Two pass interference flags come out, the Redskins line up first and goal and Morris walks in untouched. 27-14 11:24 of the third.
Cedric Griffin nearly draws a pass interference penalty. The Redskins hold on third and 20. Banks muffs the punt, but falls on it.
First great Morris run follows; he bounces an inside run outside for a big gain. Helu gets a carry the next play, which might be a reminder of how Washington would like to use its backfield, if it has experienced players healthy. A field goal makes it 30-14 with more than seven minutes to go in the third.
Pierre Thomas breaks through a few tackles. Fletcher and Ryan Kerrigan miss a sack of Brees, and a few plays later Barry Cofield does, on first and 20. Then Brees hits Kerrigan in the hands in the flat, but the linebacker drops it. Wouldn’t have been a pick-six, but Kerrigan had room for a return. As much as we focus on stats like sacks and interceptions, there are so many nearly-made plays during the course of a season that could have padded said stats.
A Jarvis Jenkins illegal hands to the face penalty gives New Orleans a first down it was having trouble earning. Brees avoids Brian Orakpo and Hall for a deep completion to Colston, then eludes Cofield for a short completion. Another penalty puts New Orleans inside the 5, but the Saints muster just a field goal.
Washington goes deep to Robinson with 1:50 left in the quarter. Interesting that they go killer instinct up 13, but it’s incomplete. So is another throw toward Robinson on third down.
Morris looks better running the ball now than he did in the first quarter. The drive leads to a 45-yard Cundiff field goal. Right down the middle, actually. 33-17.
Kerrigan sacks Brees on second and 20 with just more than 10 minutes left. Up two scores, the D can pin its ears back. New Orleans punts and Banks fumbles, but the Redskins manage to recover. The Redskins go three and out, and Rocca has to run to the side and rugby-style punt it — though a penalty makes him kick again.
Madieu Williams dislodges a sure Graham completion over the middle of the field. Two plays later, Orakpo is in his drop … and drops an interception. Brees is slinging it though, and you kind of know the Saints are going to score here. Eventually Brees hits Lance Moore with a rainbow, Sproles converts the two-pointer and it’s 33-25.
With less than five minutes left, Griffin trips on himself to set up second and 16, but nearly gets it all back on a nifty third-down scramble. Redskins punt with 3:50 to play.
Brees has been killing it over the middle all game, and he goes to the well once more. Gomes snags the INT, returns it inside the five — surely you were yelling a lot at this point — and Morris does a home-run celebration on the next play. 40-25.
Williams draws a penalty for hitting Graham in the helmet area, setting up the Saints’ final TD. New Orleans cuts it to eight with 2:25 left, but Washington puts the game away with the help of a Griffin-to-Logan Paulsen play-action pass. The Redskins actually punt in the final seconds, and the Saints cross the 50, but Reed Doughty picks off Brees’s final jump ball, and the Redskins are 1-0.
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.
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