Redskins-Vikings, Best and Worst
Worst Fate: In this, of all seasons, to lose on a Brett Favre third-down scramble....that hurt. Smarts. Stings. Smells. Reeks.Tastes like rancid turkey casserole. Favre's Vikings entered the week with the NFL's worst turnover differential, a -13. They didn't turn the ball over once.
Best Trend Bucking: The Redskins have been converting third downs at a historically awful rate this season, and entered the game last in the NFL with a putrid 25 percent. But on their first drive against the Vikings, they converted all four third-down attempts, leading to jubilation in the stands.
Worst Trend Returning: And after that? The Redskins converted two of their next 10 attempts, which is actually worse than their season average.
Best Player: Ok, ok, ok; not best, per se. But for at least the third or fourth time this season, Brandon Banks made the most exciting individual plays, the plays that could cause a horrible momentum deficit to lessen and fans to smile and the sideline to bounce. It's hard to imagine what this season would have been like without him. One return set up a field goal. Another would have been a touchdown but for an accursed block-in-the-back flag for a totally meaningless block.
Worst Block in the Back: Perry Riley. Yeah. Next time, please do block in the front. That's a great place to block.
Best Quote About That Play: "That's football in the National Football League," Mike Shanahan said. And that's a quote in a press conference in FedEx Field in Landover in Maryland in the U.S. on planet earth.
Best Start: Last week, one of the hot jokes was about how the Redskins' first drives of games were marked primarily by Donovan McNabb falling over on his own. This week, he went 8-for-8 for 84 yards in about the prettiest opening drive the rules allow.
Worst Follow-Up: And yet, before everyone could finish saying "That was the Redskins' best drive of the season," the defense watched the Vikings march down the field for their first opening-drive touchdown of the season. The balance of this always-near-.500, always-in-overtime team was restored. Eight of this team's 11 games have now been decided by less than a touchdown.
Best Pre-Game Tweet: Banks, in a rout:
So I just woke up and out of no where and I was using my playbook as a pillow! Lol gosh I love the game!
I do that with my laptop all the time, Brandon.
Worst Half-Time Speech: Whatever happened in the locker room during halftime, it didn't seem to work. The Vikings came out and drove down the field for a touchdown, the first time they'd done so in their first drive after halftime this season. The Redskins, meanwhile, gained 11 yards on their next two possessions.
Best Three-Years-Late Innovation: Say, look! It's the Wildcat! That's weird! I didn't know Washington-based teams were allowed to do that! And in a related story, credit to Tom Boswell for immediately wondering whether a Banks-led Wildcat should properly be called the "Wild Kitty."
Worst Pre-Game Trend: For the third time in three games, a Redskin went down before the game. Against the Eagles, it was Ryan Torain, who aggravated a hamstring injury. Against the Titans, Chad Simpson went down during warmups. And against the Vikings, Albert Haynesworth got ill before kickoff, although he was on the field before the first half was over.
Best Downfield Coverage by a Linebacker: London Fletcher, keeping up with tight end Visanthe Shiancoe 40 yards downfield. If I had to bet on a 4000-meter race between those two, I think I'm taking Fletcher. In the marathon, I'll go with Haynesworth, I guess.
Worst Best Play: The 45-yard bomb to Anthony Armstrong in the fourth quarter was great. The fact that it might have been a touchdown if it traveled a few more yards wasn't. Maybe it was on McNabb, or maybe it was on his lack of protection, but whatever the cause, the Redskins didn't get another first down on the drive and were stuck with a field goal that left them behind by four.
"I tried to get as much as I could into it," McNabb said later. "I didn't want to overthrow him. Maybe I pulled the string on it a little bit."
Best Haynesworthiness: A sack on 3rd-and-goal to force a field goal? That's the reason you make him run 75 conditioning tests and give him 17 bazillion dollars.
Worst Pre-Game News Break: Favre has pneumonia!!!...Favre has pneumonia!!!...Favre has pneumonia!!!... But will play. Of course. Next week, expect him to be run over by a dumptruck, covered with scalding oil, harvested for organs and shipped to Tahiti an hour before kickoff, only to be named the surprise starter at the last minute.
Best Action: The press box sprung to life in the third quarter when several fans started brawling about 20 rows up from field level. Event staff appeared disinterested in intervening. There was blood. Finally the cops showed up. Were I in the middle of that mess with my family, I'd sure be wondering what took so long.
Worst Dropsies, Part I: The Redskins saw a second-quarter drive fizzle when Chris Cooley and Santana Moss both dropped balls that appeared would go for first downs. They're lucky they're not named Carlos Rogers, or they'd have to answer a lot of questions this week.
Worst Dropsies, Part II: Moss did himself one worse in the third quarter, when a bullet from McNabb bounced off his chest and into the arms of E.J. Henderson. Later, James Davis dropped a screen that seemed to be right in his arms.
"Things happen in this game," McNabb said of the interception, which is a quote Mike Shanahan would love.
Best Homecomings: The Vikings' win was assistaed by a pair of Maryland natives. Blair product Shiancoe had 3 catches for a game-high 54 yards, while Aberdeen's E.J. Henderson had the interception that led to the Vikings' third-quarter field goal.
Worst Quarter: It's not fair or logical, but we often equate offensive football with attractive football, and vice versa. In the second quarter, the two offenses combined for 110 yards and 0 points. It felt unattractive.
Worst Stat: One Redskins tailback averaged 1.8 yards per carry. The other averaged 1.7 yards per carry. The team totaled 29 rushing yards for the game. And Favre's final 10-yard run would have been Washington's longest on the day.
Worst Omen: The Redskins have five games left. They'd need to win four to have any shot at the playoffs. Four of their final five opponents have winning records.
Worst Celebration: Favre. Blech.
| November 28, 2010; 4:15 PM ET
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