Redskins find a way against Green Bay
Monday, October 11, 2010; 12:18 AM
To understand how Mike Shanahan is pulling off this smoke-and-mirror job, you needed to be in the locker room Sunday afternoon before dusk. That's where London Fletcher stood in a circle of dried sweat and fresh blood, some still seeping from Kedric Golston's finger onto his game pants.
"A year ago, two years ago, that game would have been over with well, well before," said Fletcher, the veteran middle linebacker and, apologies to DeAngelo Hall, leader of the defense. "It just would have been a snowball."
To understand why the Redskins have now beaten three playoff teams from a year ago and turned a painful-looking start against Aaron Rodgers and the statistically superior Green Bay Packers into a pulsating 16-13 overtime finish, you needed to hear what Fletcher told his teammates afterward.
"He was like, 'Those are the games that we need to win, that's what the NFL's about,' " Golston said. "It comes down to three points or less, and we need to win those games if we want to be where we want to be."
Fletcher essentially told them they would have folded a year ago. "That's what he said," added Golston.
Seeing that unsightly first half in which Washington was fortunate not be trailing by two or three touchdowns at halftime, I'm willing to buy the character-over-talent-and-ability argument only because there is no other plausible answer at the moment.
Really, nothing about this team feels dominant or overwhelming.
The defense again gave up more than 400 yards. Missed tackles or blown coverage, it didn't matter; Jim Haslett's crew is on pace to cede more land than France in 1803.
Donovan McNabb doesn't have enough weapons and, at times, his passes look dreadful. Some of his winging-it throws have the compass of a 15th century explorer, whom we now know was lost before he got lucky and instituted the original Victory Monday.
The adjustment period for a new scheme is understandable. But they keep wasting costly timeouts because of miscommunication, including one with less than seven minutes left in the third quarter Sunday that seemed to leave Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinator barely 30 years old, fuming.
Sometimes, if you watch both their demeanors during the game, it feels like McNabb is the experienced employee, reluctantly taking orders from the new, young boss with an unnerving voice.
"Now Donovan, if you do it right once, you'll never have to do it again."