Here are four takeaways from the Redskins’ 16-13 win over the Jaguars on Sunday in Jacksonville:
Josh Johnson does just enough: It wasn’t pretty, but given that Johnson was making his first start in seven years, no one should’ve expected it to be. Washington’s fourth different starting quarterback in the last five weeks completed 16 of 25 passes for 151 yards. His lone touchdown, a six-yard strike to Jeremy Sprinkle, enabled the Redskins to tie the game with less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The 32-year-old Johnson was at his best on that 10-play scoring march, completing five of his six passes to three different receivers and scrambling for eight yards. Adrian Peterson came alive on the drive that led to Dustin Hopkins’s game-winning field goal as time expired, but for much of the afternoon, Johnson was Washington’s best running threat. He finished with nine carries for 49 yards and his first career win in his sixth start.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good: Johnson and the Redskins benefited from some good fortune in the fourth quarter. The drive that ended in Sprinkle’s game-tying touchdown nearly ended when Johnson was sacked in Washington territory, but Morgan Moses managed to pounce on the loose ball. Two plays later, on third and 15, Johnson fired a pass deep over the middle for Jamison Crowder, who made an improbable catch off a deflection for a 33-yard gain, the Redskins’ longest of the game. On Jacksonville’s ensuing drive, Redskins cornerback Fabian Moreau intercepted Cody Kessler’s pass after it was deflected by wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
Washington’s defense bounces back: After getting embarrassed by the Giants last week and struggling for more than a month, the Redskins defense showed up Sunday. It helped that Greg Manusky’s unit was facing the backup quarterback for a team that had managed 15 total points in the last two games. The Redskins had six sacks, including two by Ryan Kerrigan, who moved past Charles Mann and into second place on the franchise’s all-time sacks list with 82.5. Washington limited Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette to 11 carries for 46 yards, with 25 of those coming on one play in the fourth quarter. The Redskins’ tackling was ugly at times, but they held Kessler to 57 yards passing. Jacksonville’s 20 net passing yards were the fewest allowed by the Redskins since 1980, and the Jaguars’ only touchdown came on a punt return just before halftime.
Still alive: The Vikings’ win over the Dolphins means the Redskins remain on the outside looking in at the NFC playoff picture, but somehow, Washington remains only a half-game out of the second wild-card spot. The Colts did the Redskins a favor by shutting out the Cowboys, keeping Washington’s slim hopes of winning the NFC East alive. Up next: A visit to Nashville to play the 8-6 Titans, who are fighting for their own playoff lives and shut out the Giants on Sunday.
Game highlights and analysis
Final: Redskins 16, Jaguars 13
Dustin Hopkins kicked a 36-yard field goal as time expired to give Washington (7-7) an improbable win at Jacksonville (4-10).
Dustin Hopkins gives Redskins the win: Adrian Peterson came alive on the Redskins’ final drive. The 33-year-old running back picked up a key first down with a seven-yard catch and then moved Washington into field goal range with a 14-yard run on the next play. After the Jaguars burned all of their timeouts, the Redskins put Hopkins in position for the winning kick. His 27th consecutive made field goal from 40 yards or fewer snapped Washington’s four-game losing streak. (Redskins 16, Jaguars 13, End of 4th Quarter)
Washington takes the ball back with an interception: With the Jaguars driving for the potential go-ahead score, Cody Kessler’s third-down completion to Dede Westbrook for what would’ve been a first down was negated by an offensive pass interference penalty on Donte Moncrief. On the ensuing play, Kessler’s pass was deflected into the air and corralled by Redskins cornerback Fabian Moreau, who returned it to the Washington 45-yard line. (Redskins 13, Jaguars 13, 2:31 4th Quarter)
Redskins capitalize on lucky break and tie the game: Josh Johnson found tight end Jeremy Sprinkle for a six-yard touchdown pass at the end of a 10-play drive that featured one of the most fortuitous deflections of Washington’s season. On third-and-15 from the Redskins 40-yard line, Johnson threw deep over the middle for Jamison Crowder. A Jaguars defender tipped the ball, which Crowder caught for a 33-yard gain, Washington’s longest play of the game. (Redskins 13, Jaguars 13, 5:47 4th Quarter)
Kai Forbath extends Jaguars’ lead to seven: Forbath booted a 41-yard field goal to cap a nine-play, 65-yard drive that took more than five minutes off the clock. The key play of the drive was a 21-yard scramble by Cody Kessler on third-and-five that featured some atrocious tackling by Washington. Kessler has rushed for a game-high 68 yards on six carries. He’s also been sacked six times. (Jaguars 13, Redskins 6, 11:16 4th Quarter)
Redskins punt again: Josh Johnson leads Washington with seven carries for 43 yards, but a shoestring tackle by Jaguars safety D.J. Hayden prevented him from picking up a few more and a first down on a third-and-six scramble from the Washington 31-yard line. (Jaguars 10, Redskins 6, 1:44 3rd Quarter)
Ty Nsekhe injured: Late in the third quarter, Redskins offensive lineman Ty Nsekhe had to be helped off the field. He was replaced at left guard by Zak Kerin. (Jaguars 10, Redskins 6, 3:39 3rd Quarter)
Washington gets another sack, forces a punt: Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has moved past Charles Mann and into sole possession of second place on the franchise’s all-time sacks list with 82.5. Kerrigan’s second sack of the game was Washington’s fifth and forced another Jacksonville punt. (Jaguars 10, Redskins 6, 5:23 3rd Quarter)
Redskins pull within 10-6: Washington’s first drive of the second half culminated in a 33-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins. The 16-play, 60-yard march featured two first downs by penalty, including an unnecessary roughness call on A.J. Bouye that sent Vernon Davis to the bench to be checked on by trainers. (Davis is cleared to return.) Josh Johnson threaded the needle on third-and-10 with an 11-yard strike to Michael Floyd that gave the Redskins a first-and-10 at the Jacksonville 15-yard line, but Washington would get no closer. (Jaguars 10, Redskins 6, 7:32 3rd Quarter)
Halftime: Jaguars 10, Redskins 3
Jaguars take 10-3 lead on punt return touchdown: With 23 seconds remaining in the first half, Tress Way punted from deep in his own territory. Jaguars return man Dede Westbrook fielded the punt at the Jacksonville 26-yard line, weaved his way to the right sideline and raced 74 yards for the game’s first touchdown. Westbrook’s first career punt return for a score was easily the biggest play of a first half in which the teams combined for eight first downs. The Redskins and Jaguars offenses were responsible for 74 and 77 total yards, respectively, in the first two quarters. (Jaguars 10, Redskins 3, 0:04 2nd Quarter)
Washington avoids disaster on punt: After Washington’s defense forced a three-and-out, Maurice Harris had trouble fielding Logan Cooke’s punt. Harris managed to pounce on the loose football at the Washington 18-yard line, avoiding a potentially costly turnover just before the half. (Redskins 3, Jaguars 3, 0:42 2nd Quarter)
Tress Way remains the Redskins’ MVP: Jaguars safety Jarrod Willson swatted what would’ve been a long completion on third down out of Vernon Davis’s grasp, bringing Tress Way on the field for his fourth punt of the game. The Redskins’ punting game hasn’t missed a beat with recently signed long-snapper Andrew East, who is filling for Nick Sundberg after the veteran was placed on IR this week. Way’s latest punt was downed at the Jaguars two-yard line. (Redskins 3, Jaguars 3, 1:46 2nd Quarter)
Jacksonville ties the game with a field goal: Former Redskins kicker Kai Forbath, who was signed Friday to replace the injured Josh Lambo, drilled a 33-yard field goal to tie a game that seems destined to end with a final score of 6-3. Or maybe 9-6. The Jaguars had a first-and-1o from the Washington 17-yard line before an illegal motion penalty, sack and incompletion on three consecutive snaps set up third-and-long. It’s been that type of day for both offenses. (Redskins 3, Jaguars 3, 3:22 2nd Quarter)
Jaguars have excellent starting field position: Backed up deep in their own territory, the Redskins only made things worse on their latest drive with penalties. An illegal block on tight end Jeremy Sprinkle put Washington behind the chains and led to another Tress Way punt. Defensive end Lerentee McCray got a piece of Way’s kick, which rolled to a stop at the Washington 46-yard line. (8:42 2nd Quarter)
The defensive struggle continues: Jacksonville managed one first down on its fourth possession before punting the ball back to Washington. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who has struggled mightily since being acquired in a trade with the Packers, broke up a third-down pass intended for Donte Moncrief (Redskins 3, Jaguars 0, 11:02 2nd Quarter)
Nothing doing for Washington’s offense: Josh Johnson, making his first start in seven years, scrambled for 18 yards and an apparent first down on third-and-long, but a holding penalty on Luke Bowanko wiped out the Redskins’ biggest play of the game and ultimately led to another Tress Way punt. (Redskins 3, Jaguars 0, 12:42 2nd Quarter)
Jacksonville goes three-and-out: Jonathan Allen stuffed Leonard Fournette on second-and-six and Zach Brown registered his first sack of the season on third down to close a dominant quarter for the Redskins defense. The Jaguars, who have scored an NFL-worst 32 points in the first quarter this season, ran 14 plays for a total of 17 yards. Washington has already sacked Cody Kessler three times and forced a fumble. (Redskins 3, Jaguars 0, End of 1st Quarter)
Redskins take 3-0 lead late in first quarter: Dustin Hopkins capped a nine-play, 28-yard drive with a 46-yard field goal to give Washington the early lead. Given how Jacksonville’s offense has looked of late, that might be enough. The key play on the drive was a 17-yard screen pass to Byron Marshall. The Redskins looked to be in position to score their first touchdown in the first quarter since Week 8, but Michael Floyd was called for offensive pass interference on what would’ve been a first down catch near the Jacksonville 10-yard line. (Redskins 3, Jaguars 0, 1:50 1st Quarter)
Jaguars forced to punt: The Alabama Wall has made an early appearance after a quiet couple of weeks. The Jaguars converted on their first two third-down opportunities, but Jonathan Allen ensured they wouldn’t make it three-for-three, dragging Cody Kessler down in the backfield for his sixth sack of the season. (Redskins 0, Jaguars 0, 6:53 1st Quarter)
Washington fails to capitalize on short field: The Redskins went backward on their first possession, and it cost them a chance to get on the scoreboard first. Facing third-and-six from the Jacksonville 30-yard line, Josh Johnson was sacked by Calais Campbell for a loss of 10. Rather than attempt a 57-yard field goal, Redskins Coach Jay Gruden elected to punt. Tress Way’s ensuing boot was downed at the five-yard line. (Redskins 0, Jaguars 0, 10:43 1st Quarter)
Redskins force an early turnover: The Redskins won the toss and elected to defer, giving the Jaguars the ball first. Jacksonville moved the chains on a 12-yard scramble by Cody Kessler on third-and-long, but the quarterback couldn’t escape the grasp of Ryan Kerrigan two plays later. As Kessler fell to the turf, the football came loose and was scooped up by Daron Payne, who returned it to the Jacksonville 34-yard line. The fumble was the Jaguars’ 14th of the season, most in the NFL. (Redskins 0, Jaguars 0, 12:53 1st Quarter)
Alex Smith is finally home. The Redskins quarterback had been hospitalized longer than anticipated while battling an infection related to the devastating leg fracture he suffered on Nov. 18. Smith’s wife, Elizabeth, posted an Instagram photo of Smith in front of a Christmas tree on Sunday morning.
Washington Redskins (6-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)
Kickoff: 1 p.m., TIAA Bank Field
TV: CBS | Radio: 630, 980 AM; 92.7, 94.3, 105.9 FM
Line: Jaguars by 7.5
Making his first start since 2011, quarterback Josh Johnson will look to keep the Redskins’ playoff hopes alive against the disappointing and offensively challenged Jaguars. Johnson, who last started a game in 2011, will become Washington’s fourth different starting quarterback in the last five weeks. Despite losing four straight, the Redskins are only a half-game out of the NFC’s final wild card spot.
Cody Kessler will make his third consecutive start at quarterback for Jacksonville, which has managed 15 points in its last two games. The Jaguars rode their dominating defense and running back Leonard Fournette to an appearance in the AFC championship game last season, but Fournette has missed six games due to injury and another game due to suspension for fighting this year. The Jaguars rank sixth in total defense, and they shut out the Colts two weeks ago, but they’ve forced only 14 turnovers after finishing second in the league with 33 takeaways in 2017. Expect points to be at a premium Sunday; the over/under opened at 36 points, the lowest total in six years.