Best and worst moments from the Redskins’ 20-15 win over the Cardinals on Sunday at FedEx Field.
Best hit: Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger denied his former team a comeback victory and officially eliminated the Cardinals from playoff contention by breaking up a fourth-down pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald deep in Washington territory in the final seconds. Swearinger celebrated the play by removing his helmet, which is a penalty, but all it did was back the Redskins’ victory formation up 10 yards.
Worst scare: The Cardinals had several close calls on their final possession, including a pass that squirted out of tight end Troy Niklas’s grasp near the goal line. Two plays later, Kendall Fuller, who committed a crucial pass interference penalty earlier in the drive, broke up another pass intended for Fitzgerald with his helmet.
Best or worst goof: Fox analyst Ronde Barber apologized for mistakenly referring to Fuller as reality television star Kendall Jenner multiple times during the Cardinals’ final drive.
Best sack: The Redskins were in Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s grill all afternoon, including on a key play late in the fourth quarter. With Arizona trailing 20-15 and three minutes remaining, the Cardinals faced third and five from the Washington 35-yard line. As the pocket collapsed, Gabbert scrambled and fumbled the ball. He eventually fell on it before Ryan Kerrigan touched him down for a sack, but the 18-yard loss took Arizona out of field goal position. With all three of their timeouts remaining and the two-minute warning, the Cardinals elected to punt.
Worst series: The Redskins went three and out on their ensuing possession and punted the ball away. A 15-yard return by Brittan Golden set the Cardinals up at their own 48-yard line with two minutes and a timeout to go 52 yards for the potential game-winning score.
Best apparent interception that was ruled a completion: Linebacker Zach Vigil appeared to seal Washington’s sixth win with an interception on the first play of the Cardinals’ final drive, but officials ruled Niklas came down with the ball. The officials ruled incorrectly.
Best play by someone you might not have known played for the Redskins: Running back Kapri Bibbs, who was signed to the Redskins’ practice squad in November and promoted to the active roster Tuesday, scored his second career touchdown on a 36-yard catch and run on a screen pass in the second quarter. It was sweet redemption for Bibbs, who spent the first three seasons of his NFL career with the Denver Broncos and committed a false start earlier in the drive. Bibbs and fellow former practice squad member Maurice Harris have now combined for as many touchdown receptions (two) as Jordan Reed this season. It’s been that type of year.
Best play by someone you might have forgotten played for the Redskins: The Cardinals were threatening to score late in the second quarter when one of Gabbert’s several off-target passes wound up in the arms of Preston Smith. The outside linebacker, who had 4.5 sacks in the Redskins’ first five games but entered Sunday’s game with only half a sack in the eight weeks since, had quite the first half. In addition to his second career interception, he had a fumble recovery and three quarterback hits. He was credited with a sack in the second half.
Worst turnover: The Redskins gave the ball right back to the Cardinals on the next play, when Tramon Williams recovered a Vernon Davis fumble and returned it 18 yards.
Best deflection: With no timeouts left, Arizona moved the ball to the Washington 1-yard line, but the Cardinals’ short drive stalled there. One play after Gabbert drilled running back D.J. Foster in the back of the helmet with a pass, Redskins defensive lineman Anthony Lanier batted a sure touchdown pass to Foster down at the line. A Phil Dawson chip shot as time expired in the first half cut the Redskins’ lead to 14-9.
Worst running game: Washington ran five times for four yards in the first half. Samaje Perine finished with 14 carries for 37 yards and saw a 23-yard carry nullified by a holding penalty.
Best points per play: The Redskins ran seven plays, had 24 yards of offense and had the ball for 2:41 in the first quarter but still led the Cardinals, who ran 21 plays in the first 15 minutes, 7-3. Washington ran 15 plays and had the ball for 6:34 in the first half, the lowest time of possession by a team in a half this season.
Worst mismatch: Arizona ran 47 plays in the first and second quarters, tied for the most in a half by any team this season. The Redskins ran 47 offensive plays in the entire game, their fewest since they ran 46 plays in a win over the Eagles last December.
Worst giveaway: With apparently no interest in adding to their comically low time of possession, the Redskins didn’t even bother fielding the second-half kickoff. Cardinals safety Budda Baker pounced on the ball, giving Arizona excellent field position, but Washington’s defense held strong yet again. A fourth Dawson field goal pulled Arizona to within 14-12.
Best drive: Washington nearly doubled its time of possession on its next drive, going 88 yards on 11 plays in more than six minutes. After Tramon Williams nearly ended the drive with a leaping, one-handed interception in the end zone, Dustin Hopkins booted a 24-yard field goal in his first game since he was placed on injured reserve with a hip injury in Week 6.
Worst play-call: Jay Gruden dialed up a reverse to Josh Doctson from the Redskins’ 32-yard line late in the third quarter. Cardinals linebacker Kareem Martin wasn’t fooled on the play and dragged Doctson down for a loss of 14.
Worst penalty that didn’t hurt the Redskins: With Washington clinging to a fourth-quarter lead, a 15-yard penalty on A.J. Francis for pushing off a defender to gain leverage on an attempted field goal block prolonged a Cardinals drive that appeared to have ended with a 54-yard field goal by Dawson. Arizona accepted the penalty and took the points off the board but failed to capitalize on the gift. Four plays later, Dawson kicked his fifth field goal of the game to pull the Cardinals to within two.
Best defensive series: Kirk Cousins and the Redskins went three and out on their next possession, putting a tired defense that lost Bashaud Breeland to a shoulder injury earlier in the fourth quarter back on the field. Greg Manusky’s unit answered the call again. Swearinger set the tone for the series by dropping Elijhaa Penny in the backfield for a four-yard loss on first down. Smith chased Gabbert out of bounds and was credited with a sack on second down before Junior Galette batted down a third-down pass intended for Fitzgerald.
Worst third-down execution: The Redskins had a chance to put the game away on their next drive, and while they burned more than three minutes off the clock, Cousins’ third-down incompletion from the Arizona 14-yard line brought on Hopkins for another short field goal. It was still a one-score game. To make matters worse, Cousins was shaken up on the play after a taking a shot to the back from Chandler Jones. Washington was 1 for 9 on third down in the game.
Worst red zone offense: The Cardinals weren’t much better on third down, converting only 4 of their 19 attempts. Arizona hasn’t scored a touchdown since the second quarter of a 32-16 loss to the Rams in Week 13.
Best start: A Cardinals offense without running back Adrian Peterson and led by Gabbert was just what the doctor ordered for a struggling Redskins defense that has allowed at 30 points in four of the last five games. Lanier ended Arizona’s first possession with a sack-fumble of Gabbert in the red zone. Preston Smith recovered the loose ball and returned it inside the Arizona 10.
Best capitalizing: The Redskins took advantage of the early turnover, with Cousins finding Jamison Crowder for a five-yard touchdown pass two plays later. It was Crowder’s second touchdown of the season and marked the first time Washington has scored first in the last four games.
Worst decision: The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Gabbert with the 10th pick of the 2011 NFL draft, one spot ahead of J.J. Watt and six spots ahead of Ryan Kerrigan. Whoops. Gabbert finished 16 of 41 for 189 yards and an interception.
Best pressure: The Cardinals marched all the way to the Washington 12 on their second drive before Gabbert was sacked on consecutive plays. Junior Galette got credit for the first one, while Lanier and Smith combined on the second. Arizona ultimately settled for a 40-yard Dawson field goal to cut the Redskins’ lead to 7-3.
Worst injury report: Redskins left tackle Trent Williams missed his fourth game with a knee injury. Fellow Pro Bowler Zach Brown, the NFL’s leading tackler, was inactive for the first time this season.
Best color: The Redskins planted a new kind of grass seed since Thanksgiving, when the Redskins beat the Giants on a dirt track and a team official said the condition of the playing surface was a “nonissue.” If nothing else, the new field looked a lot greener.
Worst crowd? Not exactly. The smallest announced crowd in FedEx Field history was 56,247 on Dec. 8, 2013, when the 3-9 Redskins lost to the 9-3 Chiefs, 45-10, in a blizzard. It was 49 degrees Sunday, so the weather couldn’t explain all the empty seats at kickoff, but the announced attendance was still a respectable 71,026.
Best dude: Fitzgerald made one young fan’s day by running over to say hello during a timeout in the first quarter.
Best milestone: Vernon Davis had two catches for 18 yards to become the ninth tight end in NFL history to go over 7,000 yards receiving.