Redskins-Lions, Best and Worst
Best and worst from the Redskins' 37-25 loss to the Detroit Lions.
Worst Destination: The Detroit Lions have been one of the NFL's shoddier outfits in recent years, and yet in three straight trips over three straight seasons, the Redskins have flirted with disaster. In 2008, they were largely saved by a Santana Moss punt return. In 2009, they lost in horrific fashion, breaking Detroit's 19-game losing streak. This time, they frittered away much of the season's good feelings with a dreadful fourth quarter and a 12-point loss.
Worst Decisions: I'd prefer to call them "weirdest decisions," but the format doesn't allow for that, so I'll go with worst. The early two-point conversion attempt with more than 11 minutes to go, the decision not to punt trailing by just three points with two timeouts and the two-minute warning
conversion in your pocket, and oh yeah, the decision to bench your starting quarterback on the game's most important drive in favor of a dude renowned for flightiness...that was all weird. Mike Shanahan said he thought Rex Grossman gave the Skins "the best chance to win" in that two-minute situation, and repeatedly cited his knowledge of the offensive terminology. If Jim Zorn was making those decisions, this town would be in flames.
Wait, Worster Decision: And yet, worse than all of that was Donovan McNabb throwing an interception into triple coverage with the Redskins ahead in the fourth quarter. This team can win games if it limits turnovers. It can't win with junk like that.
Best Player: If Brandon Banks played any snaps on offense, I missed it, but he was still the Redskins' best offensive weapon by 100 yards. He set up the Redskins with field position that led to 17 of their points, recorded the team's first touchdown return for a touchdown in 70 games, and had another brilliant return for a touchdown called back by penalty. Plus, he's as lovable as a toddler dressed as a bumblebee. Aside from LaRon Landry's resurgence, Banks has been the single best thing about this season.
Worst Offensive Line: A week ago, I jokingly noted that the Redskins did not, in fact, have the worst offensive line when facing the Bears. This week, they did again. Seven sacks, two fourth-quarter penalties, 7,000 pressures. (Fox said it was 11 hits and 10 hurries in 36 McNabb dropbacks, and Grossman didn't fare much better.)
Best Minute: The final minute of first half was a perfect example of how the Redskins have been winning games this season: with random slop. Matthew Stafford missed a wide-open Calvin Johnson on third down. Banks put the offense in business with a 24-yard punt return. Two quick passes to Santana Moss and Ryan Torain put the Redskins in range for a long field-goal try, and Graham Gano converted. Then the Lions were booed going into their locker room, and I was convinced the Skins would win.
Worst Start: Casey Rabach stepped on McNabb's foot on the first play from scrimmage, and McNabb fell awkwardly and lost nine yards. On the next play, he missed Torain with a poorly thrown screen attempt. After another screen, the Redskins punted. McNabb would be hit on four of his first six dropbacks.
Worst Start, Part II: Does the start of the second half count as a start? Because the Redskins offense looked just as bad then with a botched and fumbled handoff, a short completion and a poor pass to a wide open Chris Cooley.
Best Streak: London Fletcher played in his 200th consecutive game. He managed to do it without any fake pre-game posturing, without limping over injuries that miraculously disappeared after good plays, without any TV analysts having to take smelling salts in order to behold his majesty, and without any stupid ads for jeans. At least he got repeated praise in Sunday's broadcast.
Worst Hands: Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith had about the easiest pick-six you could imagine late in the first half, a softly tossed McNabb ball to the flat with no one between Smith and the end zone. He botched it, and the Redskins wound up with a field goal. Had Smith caught that, a weird performance by McNabb would have been even weirder.
Best Hands: DeAngelo Hall could not possibly be on a better turnover roll. His first-quarter interception gave him six on the year, tying his career high and leading the NFL. Rick Maese reported that it's the most for any Redskin since 1999. Saying Hall has better hands than any Skins wide receiver started as a hyperbolic joke, but it might actually be true.
Worst Tackle: And yet, after a season of mostly solid tackling, Hall was victimized by a Calvin Johnson broken tackle in the second quarter, which gave the Lions a touchdown.
Best Run: With the Redskins' offense showing the liveliness of a Giant African Land Snail, McNabb came to the rescue, tying the Redskins longest rushing play of the season with a 36-yard gallop in the second quarter. That was his longest run since 2007, and it led to Washington's first touchdown.
Worst Celebration: Love LaRon Landry. Love his goofy celebrations. Hate his goofy celebrations when they come after the other team has gained a first down.
Best Strip: Phillip Buchanon's strip of Nate Burleson ended a Detroit trip into scoring position. I'm not sure if the 3-4 helps harden Buchanon's fist of fury, but man, they do have a knack for getting turnovers right now.
Worst Punting: Last week, Hunter Smith's atrocious punting numbers had an explanation: the Redskins were punting away from Devin Hester. This week, I can't think of a good excuse. Smith averaged 40.1
31 yards on 9 punts, and when he got off a long one in the second quarter, it appeared to have poor hang time, leading to a 71-yard return.
Best Run Stop: The Lions had a 3rd-and-1 late in the first quarter, and Albert Haynesworth flung some puny 300-pound offensive lineman away and swallowed Kevin Smith whole, without any condiments. Not too many 350-pound dudes can make a routine tackle on a running play up the middle look awesome.
Worst Penalty: After holding the Lions on 3rd-and-short in the third quarter, the Redskins seemed to have forced a field-goal attempt. But Phillip Daniels jumped offsides on the attempt, and with a 1st-and-goal, Detroit wound up with seven points instead of three.
Worst Penalty, Part II: And on the ensuing kickoff, a 95-yard Banks touchdown return was negated by a block-in-the-back call against Reed Doughty.
Best One-Liner: Tracee Hamilton, on Twitter: "Albert Haynesworth dressed up as a nose tackle for Halloween."
Best Offense: Washington Capitals. Ok, this isn't the right place for this, but if you stayed up to watch the second period in Calgary on Saturday night, you saw why this hockey team is winning over D.C.'s kids. I watched much of John Wall on Saturday night, and he was captivating. I've watched every Redskins game this season, and they're certainly a much more respectable team than they were in the past. They're 4-4, and have been competitive every week. But the Caps can do things on offense that are more entertaining than anything else going in this town. They can do things that just make you marvel at their talent and skill. That second period on Saturday night was one of them.
Best Bye Week: This one. I think it'll be good for McNabb to rest. I think it'll be good for the team to catch its breath. And I think it'll be good for sports-talk radio in this town to have 14 full days to chew over this one. Sports-talk radio lives on benched quarterbacks.
| October 31, 2010; 5:01 PM ET
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