Redskins vs. Jaguars: Washington damages Jacksonville's playoff hopes with 20-17 win in overtime

An interception by Kevin Barnes sets up Graham Gano's game-winning field goal.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 26, 2010; 11:56 PM

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. - Still playing hard despite their record, the Washington Redskins ended their losing streak at four games Sunday afternoon with a 20-17 victory in overtime against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field.

On a cold and windy day, place kicker Graham Gano's 31-yard field goal provided the winning margin with 12 minutes 13 seconds remaining in the extra session, and injury-weakened Washington won for only the second time since Oct. 24. Second-year cornerback Kevin Barnes - who started at safety with the top four players at the position sidelined - set up Gano's kick with his first NFL interception after the Jaguars won the coin toss and received the ball to begin overtime.

Barnes and third-year outside linebacker Rob Jackson, who recorded his first career sack after being activated from the practice squad this week, were among many young players who played key roles in helping the Redskins (6-9) move a game ahead of last-place Dallas in the NFC East. The Jaguars (8-7) have dropped two straight, and the loss dampened their playoff hopes in front of an announced crowd of 63,470.

Washington has failed to qualify for the postseason for the ninth time in its 11 seasons under owner Daniel M. Snyder. But Redskins players said they were playing for pride and would continue to fight.

"Yeah, man, we don't care what's goin' on, the Redskins go out to try to win," said outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, sidelined Sunday by hamstring and groin injuries. "You hear them [media commentators] say, 'Redskins can drop these two and get a top-five [draft] pick.' Or they say, 'The Redskins don't need to be playing [starters].' We ain't worried about all that. Guys came out fighting hard, fighting with pride."

Barnes was playing for Reed Doughty, who began the season as LaRon Landry's backup at strong safety. Landry is on the season-ending injured reserve list with an Achilles' tendon injury and Doughty was ruled out earlier in the week because of a concussion. Barnes made his first career start alongside the recently signed Victor "Macho" Harris, who started in place of free safety Kareem Moore (knee).

A former Maryland standout, Barnes struggled for much of the game. He whiffed trying to tackle Jaguars quarterback David Garrard, who rumbled 20 yards on a quarterback draw for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The extra point by Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee tied the score at 17.

Barnes, however, recovered nicely.

The Jaguars elected to receive on the first possession of overtime. On third and four from Jacksonville's 17-yard line, the Redskins blitzed. In coverage against tight end Marcedes Lewis, Barnes caught the ball at about Jacksonville's 22 and returned it to the 14. Ryan Torain rushed twice for one yard before Gano's kick ended the game.

"Marcedes was fighting real hard to get across my face to run his route," Barnes said. "I was pretty sure he was determined to get the ball. . . I just made the play."

Barnes earned his starting opportunity by working hard during practice, "and he balled out, man, he balled out," said cornerback and defensive co-captain DeAngelo Hall. "He made some mistakes, yeah, but at the end of the day, he made up for it."

The temperature at game time was 38 degrees - the coldest Jaguars home game in franchise history. The Redskins played without five defensive starters from their opening 53-man roster, and starting right tackle Jammal Brown was listed among the inactives because of what he described as flu-like symptoms.

Jacksonville star running back Maurice Jones-Drew (knee) also was out. When play began Sunday, Jones-Drew ranked second in the league in rushing with 1,324 yards.

The Redskins jumped to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter on Gano's 48-yard field goal and quarterback Rex Grossman's one-yard touchdown pass to Fred Davis. Washington also put together a time-consuming drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters to take a 17-10 lead.

Coach Mike Shanahan decided to go for a touchdown on fourth and goal from Jacksonville's 1-yard line, and Torain (20 rushes, 65 yards) took a deep handoff from Grossman (182 yards, 60.0 passer rating) and propelled himself into the end zone as if shot from a cannon. It was the Redskins' second-longest scoring drive of the season in both number of plays and time off the clock.

Washington converted three third-down attempts on the possession after failing on its first seven tries. Overall, the Redskins converted only 27 percent (4 of 15) of their third-down attempts.

Top wideout Santana Moss had another solid outing with five receptions for 85 yards. Moss has matched his personal-best total with 84 receptions this season and topped 1,000 yards receiving for the fourth time in his career.

But the Redskins' offense was mostly ineffective after its strong showing in the second half of a 33-30 loss to Dallas in Week 15. The Jaguars outgained the Redskins in total net yards, 336-251, and the Redskins twice squandered leads.

The Redskins, though, preferred to focus on the positives after six losses in their previous seven games - and Jackson was a bright spot. A member of Washington's unproductive 2008 draft class, Jackson, formerly a defensive end, played in three games as a rookie and five last season.

He failed to make the opening-day roster after being converted to an outside linebacker when Washington made the switch from the base 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme. Andre Carter started in place of Orakpo, but Jackson played and played well, the Redskins said.

"He set the tone for his week on Wednesday in practice," said inside linebacker and defensive co-captain London Fletcher. The offensive line "couldn't block him in practice and he carried it over to the game."

The Redskins finish the season Sunday against the New York Giants at FedEx Field. There's one more chance for the Redskins to win a football game this season, and players said that's what they'll work to do.

"This team has a competitive bunch of guys," center Casey Rabach said. "And there ain't no quit in us."

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