Redskins-Texans, Best and Worst
Best and worst from the Redskins' 30-27 overtime loss to the Texans.
Best Play: I don't care what team you root for, Andre Johnson's game-tying jump-ball touchdown catch while covered man-plus-man-on-man was ridiculous. "A great athlete making a play," was how Mike Shanahan described it.
Worst Play: When the Redskins got the ball back after the two-minute warning with the score tied, everyone was saying stuff like "This is why you got McNabb," and lightning bolts of anticipation were cascading around the stands. After Mario Williams sacked McNabb and injured Trent Williams on the same play, the stadium then turned into a morgue. You're probably not trying to win a Super Bowl this year, but you're sure trying to break in your left tackle of the future. Hint: His name isn't Stephon Heyer. Get well soon, Trent.
Best Joke Everyone Was Making: It involves Donovan McNabb and whether NFL games can end in a tie.
Worst Dagger: Less than four minutes left, third-and-long, and Joey Galloway breaks free deep. McNabb's bomb was a bit too deep, and Galloway didn't seem to get a great look at it, and everything fell down incomplete in the end zone. Dagger, sheathed.
Through two weeks, the Redskins have won the first-half scoring battle, 30-7, and lost the second-half-and-overtime scoring battle, 30-10.
Best Point Spread: Houston (-3). Well done, Vegas.
Worst Rookie Mistake: Dan Steinberg, checking during halftime to see the last time the Redskins had started 2-0. Anyhow, the Redskins are now 1-1 for the 6th time in 11 seasons.
Best Block: Clinton Portis, obviously. When he crushed Eugene Wilson 50 yards downfield during 62-yard pass to Fred Davis late in the second quarter, Wilson flew backwards and Portis went flying up the field, pumping his knees up in the air in celebration. That was far more celebrating than he did after either of his touchdown runs. Portis's mouth might cause 43 public-relations debacles a season, but I don't think you've ever read a story questioning his effort on Sundays. Or Mondays, I guess.
Worst Block: Bernard Pollard blocked a 29-yard field goal attempt that would have just about finished off the game midway through the fourth quarter. Those three points might have come in handy a bit later. Last week, the Redskins didn't even attempt a crucial 23-yarder after a poor snap, and almost wound up losing by a point. Failing to convert field goals of less than 30 yards is not often a great long-term strategy.
Best Resurrection: Wait, Joey Galloway's still alive? And catching 62-yard bombs? Pretty sure I stopped drafting him in fantasy due to age concerns when I was in middle school.
Anyhow, the Redskins pass catchers not named Moss or Cooley combined for three catches for 14 yards in Week 1. Galloway smashed that with one deep route. Fred Davis, Roydell Williams and Anthony Armstrong each added at least 20 yards receiving.
Worst Running Play: Clinton Portis was averaging about a yard a carry for most of the day, so when he went out and Larry Johnson came in, you figured it couldn't be worse. You were wrong. Johnson's first carry in the fourth quarter went for minus-10, forcing the offense's first three-and-out of the game.
For the game, the non-Portis members of the backfield rushed four times for minus-15 yards. Washington ran seven passing plays and zero running plays on its only possession of overtime. They have to find a way to move the ball on the ground.
Best Sign the Fan Base Is Changing: During an injury timeout late in the third quarter, the fans started chanting "Let's Go Redskins! Let's Go Redskins!" No one told them to do this. There were no blaring lights or exhorting PA announcer. It was just the fans chanting, on their own. Remarkable. Later, they did it again with a "De-Fense" chant.
Worst Sign the Fan Base Is Flighty: Well, I'm not blaming them, but hundreds or maybe thousands of fans started walking out after Joel Dreessen's catch put Houston into scoring position in overtime. I totally understand traffic, and school nights, and the laws of probability. Still, if you waited that long....
Best First-Drive Quarterback: McNabb's got to be in the running. A week ago, he was 3 for 5 for 32 yards, and also ran for 17 yards on the team's first drive. This week, he went 6-for-6 for 55 yards. Both drives ended with field goals, and neither drive ended with fans placing paper bags over their heads.
Worst Preseason Injury: The Redskins stayed pretty healthy this preseason, but they did lose Kareem Moore to that knee sprain. Turns out that was not a good thing for this defense. Reed Doughty is the nicest guy in the world, but he seems to be around a lot of celebrating receivers.
Best Friendship: Some of the Redskins' inactive players were noticeably absent from the sidelines. No. 92, for example. But some were there, like Moore, who enthusiastically cheered on the team in street clothes. He also continued to display his close relationship with LaRon Landry, performing the duo's barbershop handshake before the game and running out to slap hands with Landry at halftime.
Worst NFL Trend: Now and forever, I loathe the move where NFL coaches call timeouts just as the field-goal operation begins. Can't argue with the success, in this case, but man is that lame.
Best Defensive Formation: With the Texans driving late in the first half and facing 3rd-and-9, Houston called a timeout. Washington's look coming out of the timeout was something you might cook up on the playground: 6 linebackers and 5 defensive backs, by one count. The play resulted in a Lorenzo Alexander sack, And Neil Rackers missed the ensuing 47-yard field-goal attempt.
Worst Decision: Steve Slaton went out of his way to grab the Redskins' first kickoff as it headed toward the sidelines and jump out of bounds at the 1 yard-line. That was his second career kick return, and absent catching the ball and placing it in the end zone, it was about as poor a return as possible. Something about coming to Washington makes Texans act all crazy-like. See for example, the Cowboys last week. (And notice the maturity in not making any political remarks.)
Best Use of the Self-Bobble: Carlos Rogers finally came up with an excellent maneuver for making an interception: bat the ball up in the air, so that it can then gently land in his supple hands, which are roughly as soft as a waffle iron. Rogers's first-quarter interception, which he deflected to himself, was his first since December of 2008.
Worst Career Move: Some sort of intern or temporary employee wearing a Redskins Public Relations polo shirt was openly rooting for the Cowboys in the press box during the 1 p.m. games. I suggested that was a strange move, and the employee expressed open dislike for the home team. Maybe find another line of work.
Best Use of the New Big Screens: At halftime, the screens showed highlights from around the NFL. It's still such a jarring concept, having large highlights instead of small and grainy ads for pizza. But anyhow, when the rotation came to the Bears' 27-20 win over the Cowboys, the fans went crazy. Guess there are a lot of native Chicagoans who also support the Skins.
Worst Referee Call: "That's the end of the game," he announced at the end of regulation.
(And no, the Jacoby Jones instant-replay review doesn't count. That looked like a catch to me.)
Best Reason for Optimism: This was a gut punch of the worst variety, with a 17-point lead and a party atmosphere suddenly turning into a loss with all the gaiety of two-man Bingo game. But through two games, the Redskins have 40 points and one turnover. If you average 20 points a game and turn the ball over that rarely, you will be competitive in just about every game. That's more than we could say last year.
Best Mike Shanahan Quote: "When you lose, you lose."
Worst Mike Shanahan Quote: The last question of his press conference involved whether he ever sensed the Texans having the upper hand. "No," he said, and walked off the podium.
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