“My family, we’ve been through a lot,” Orchard said, fighting back tears. “So, to come out and represent myself and my family, it means everything. I’m just grateful for the organization giving me the opportunity to play the game that I love.”
Fail: Washington’s onside kick coverage
The Panthers hadn’t successfully converted an onside kick in 29 tries dating back to 1998, the longest such streak in the NFL entering Sunday. The drought ended with 1:51 remaining in the game, when linebacker Jermaine Carter dove to recover the ball at the Washington 48-yard line. Carter made a nice play on punter Michael Palardy’s bouncer, but it helped that Jeremy Sprinkle and Shaun Dion Hamilton, the two members of the Redskins’ hands team who were in the best position to, well, get their hands on the ball, turned their backs and went to block oncoming Carolina players instead. Interim coach Bill Callahan said there was a missed assignment on the play.
The botched onside kick recovery didn’t cost the Redskins, thanks to an impressive stand by the defense. The Panthers had a first-and-goal at the Washington 1-yard line with 40 seconds to play after Allen’s 21-yard completion to DJ Moore. Cole Holcomb tackled Christian McCaffrey for a loss of one on first down, and Orchard dropped the MVP candidate for another one-yard loss on second down. After an incompletion on third down, Allen took the fourth-down snap out of shotgun formation and didn’t see wide receiver Jarius Wright running free for what should’ve been an easy completion in the right flat before he was sacked by Chris Odom 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Redskins limited McCaffrey to 44 rushing yards a year after they held him to 66 total yards in a Washington win at FedEx Field.
Hail: Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson
Guice gained a career-high 129 yards and two touchdowns on only 10 carries. His 60-yard run in the first quarter seemed to wake the Redskins from their early-game slumber and his 37-yard gain in the fourth quarter, which included a stiff-arm of linebacker Shaq Thompson, set up his second one-yard touchdown run of the day. Peterson had 99 yards on 13 carries, including a 12-yard touchdown run that gave Washington a 29-14 lead with 4:26 to play.
For the second consecutive week, all three of the Redskins’ division foes lost. After the Cowboys lost at home to the Bills on Thanksgiving, the Giants lost in the snow at home to Green Bay and the Eagles blew a 14-point lead at Miami on Sunday. Despite a 6-6 record, Dallas maintains a one-game lead over the Eagles atop the division with four weeks remaining in the regular season. Every other NFL division leader is at least four games over .500.
Hail: Washington’s playoff odds — and draft position
Washington has played several fast games under Callahan, including a Week 7 loss to the 49ers that was the NFL’s fastest game since 2009. Sunday’s win took for-ev-er. The teams combined for only 11 accepted penalties, but there were multiple replay reviews and lengthy discussions between officials to sort out several calls. Callahan said he hoped to learn more from the league in the coming days about why Redskins linebacker Ryan Anderson was ejected for his helmet-to-helmet hit on tight end Greg Olsen, while Panthers wide receiver DeAndrew White wasn’t ejected for a similar hit on punt return man Trey Quinn.
Washington has won consecutive games for the first time since October of last season, when the Redskins improved to 5-2 with three straight wins, over the Panthers, Cowboys and Giants.
Fail: The black cat curse
Entering Sunday, NFL teams with cat nicknames were 0-12 since a black cat ran across the field and delayed the “Monday Night Football” game between the Giants and Cowboys on Nov. 4. The Jaguars and Panthers both lost Sunday, but the Bengals earned their first win of the year against the Jets to break the streak. Meanwhile, Washington ended its own Charlotte curse. The Redskins had lost four straight road games to the Panthers dating back to 1998, when Trent Green, who served as CBS’s analyst for Sunday’s game, passed for 257 yards and two touchdowns in Washington’s 28-25 triumph.