Redskins-Titans, Best and Worst
Best and worst from the Redskins' 19-16 overtime win over the Titans.
Best Summary: I'll turn to Grant Paulsen from 106.7 The Fan, who wrote this on Twitter:
Redskins were without 4 starters when day began. Lost 1 guy pregame and 8 for the game during play. And won...a week after losing by 31.
That's what happened. The rest is just commentary.
Worst Field: The Titans' strategy of sprinkling the Redskins' side of the line of scimmage with land mines, banana peels, oil slicks and really really pointy tacks worked brilliantly. Seven Redskins players had suffered leg injuries by halftime, including a pair of offensive linemen and a pair of running backs.
Best Patch Job: And yet, for all that mayhem, the team held together, the offensive line held together, and no one was using the word "embarrassed" this week. Stephon Heyer at guard? Maybe that's his natural position. Three different offensive line groups in the first half? Sure, whatever. Washington racked up 14 first downs and 242 yards in the first half, amid the carnage, and Donovan McNabb had plenty of time to pass for much of the second half. How that happened? I have no idea. Might as well let these guys play another week, though, right?
Worst Start: The Redskins' past three games have all started horrendously, ridiculously, atrociously, diabolically. Against Detroit, there was a three-and-out, highlighted by Donovan McNabb slipping and falling on the first snap. Against the Eagles, DeSean Jackson scored on the game's first snap. And against the Titans, McNabb again fell on the first snap, and the Redskins again went three-and-out.
Best Fourth Quarter:: After being shut out through three quarters, Chris Cooley had seven catches for 91 yards in the fourth (and overtime), all for first downs. And on each of them, the salute from Redskins fans in Tennessee was easy to hear.
Worst Tackle: Some guy named Rusty Smith, apparently a quarterback, hit Nate Washington for a deep ball in the fourth quarter, and what was already a big gain got bigger when Kareem Moore ricocheted off the receiver. The play went for 52 yards, and the Titans wound up with a go-ahead field goal on the drive.
Best Look: My initial opinion was that the white tops and gold pants worked. That, no matter what you say about the team's new front-office structure, they've just nailed the uniform thing. But when someone suggested online that the Redskins looked like the official pro football team of McDonald's, I couldn't stop thinking of that. Seriously, that's what they looked like. I still think I approve of the combination, but I need to purge that McDonald's image from my mind.
Worst Opportunism: Smith's godawful interception gave the Redskins the ball in Tennessee territory late in the fourth quarter. The Redskins went 3-and-out, and the game lasted a lot longer than it needed to.
Best Penalty Sequence: The Titans went heel in overtime, drawing back-to-back 15-yarders to move the Redskins from 3rd-and-forever in their own half of the field to the brink of field-goal range.
Worst Penalty Sequence: The Redskins' special teams somehow lined up in an illegal formation on the team's second punt of the day. After offsetting penalties, they kicked again. This time, the Titans took it back for a touchdown, although it looked for all the world like Reed Doughty was blocked in the back. The Fox analysts praised the above block, so maybe I'm wrong.
Best Forgotten Play: Graham Gano's last-second miss will be the lasting memory from the final drive of regulation, but let's not forget the 15-yard pass to Brandon Banks, in traffic, for a first down. Banks is the smallest player in the NFL, but his first career catch for positive yardage was large. If that had been Danny Woodhead getting creamed and holding on over the middle of the field, several broadcasters might have been overcome with emotion.
Worst Job of Playcalling, Part I: The Redskins have an atrocious pass defense, and were without LaRon Landry and Carlos Rogers. The Titans didn't throw a pass in the first quarter.
Worst Job of Playcalling, Part II: Easy for me to say, but Washington's third-down give to Mike Sellers from about the 3-yard line in the first half seemed entirely hopeless. Sellers didn't come close to the end zone.
Worst Job of Play-by-Play Calling: When the Titans were called offsides on the ensuing field-goal attempt, Dick Stockton freaked out. "THIS IS GONNA BE A FIRST DOWN!!!!!" he said. Turns out it was half-the-distance, and still fourth down. Later, Stockton was ages late in realizing that the Titans' lack of timeouts meant they were out of challenges.
Best Two-Minute Drill: Not sure about his cardio, or about the terminology, or about anything else, but McNabb looked pretty slick getting his team into field-goal position at the end of both halves. Gano missed both field goals, but still.
Worst Drop: The Redskins called a timeout to prepare for a crucial 3rd-and-long early in the fourth quarter. Hate to see the timeout used there. Still, they came out of it well, with McNabb finding Anthony Armstrong for a first down. Armstrong dropped it. No first down, bye-bye timeout.
Best Emergence From Oblivion: Joey Galloway was supposed to be benched, or cut, or sent to Siberia this week. Instead, the 39-year old caught a 20-yard ball on a 3rd-and-16 at the end of the first quarter, eventually leading to a field goal. He finished with 3 catches for 32 yards.
Worst Disappearances Into Oblivion: Randy Moss. Zero catches for 0 yards. Not that great.
Best Run After Catch: Fred Davis hasn't exactly had the breakout year many were predicting, but he sure makes interesting plays. This week, it happened twice. First came a 23-yard catch-and-run, in which he seemed to run through about half of the Tennessee defense. Later there was a screen, and after breaking a tackle near the line of scrimmage, Davis went for 21 yards.
Worst Push-Off: Randy Moss didn't make any effort to hide his push-off on DeAngelo Hall in the third quarter. He just pushed him, directly in front of an official, negating what would have been a soul-crushing fourth-down touchdown grab.
Worst Warmup Routine: I have a call in to the Elias Sports Bureau to ask when the last time an NFL team lost a running back for an entire game due to an injury from warm-ups two weeks in a row. Ok, not really. But that's bizarre. What exactly are they doing during warm-ups? Do you need an extra jolt of cardiovascular endurance to endure these warm-ups?
Worst Return From Injury: For brief moments in the first quarter, Clinton Portis looked like he had spent his time off in a chamber of youth. He ran five times for 32 yards, caught a 14-yard pass, and looked far more explosive than he has in recent appearances. Then he got hurt, and didn't come back. That's makes the second straight week an injured Redskins runner has returned from injury only to get injured again.
Worst Overthrow: Santana Moss was open deep midway through the first quarter. McNabb appeared to overthrow him, badly. All the "McNabb has been bad" stories have noted that he's been excellent with the deep ball. This one didn't look excellent.
Best Save: The Redskins were reeling early in the first quarter, having endured a bad offensive series, a bad punt, and a bad first defensive play. Titans Coach Jeff Fisher had already fist-pumped at least twice. Then Lorenzo Alexander forced a Vince Young fumble, temporarily salvaging the season. Alexander would later hurt a hamstring, but he earned his check with that play.
Best Drama: The three weeks starting with the loss in Detroit and ending with the loss to the Eagles were pure agony for the Redskins, filled with soap operas and hand-wringing and tears and a dull pain in that little spot above your kidney. But, as a whole, this season has been about unaesthetic football games decided in the final minute. Those days are back. The Skins have played 10 games, and seven have been decided by less than a touchdown. Four of the past six games have been decided by three points.
Best Advice: On last week's Football Insider Live podcast, I advised listeners to bet the mortgage on the Redskins +7. This is a bounce-back league. The Redskins bounced back.
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