Alexander: Teams 'Want to Be the Spark'
In this week's installment of Special Teams Saturday with Lorenzo Alexander, we'll take a look at how the Redskins intend to rebound after two momentum-shifting plays on teams helped the Carolina Panthers rally from a 15-point deficit for a 20-17 victory over the Redskins.
Trailing, 17-2, in the third quarter, Carolina broke a 55-yard kickoff return and scored their first touchdown shortly thereafter. "Not to make excuses, but once we watched the tape, Kareem [Moore] got blocked in the back, he got held on that play, and he was in the gap that the guy ran through," Alexander said. "We turned it [the tape] into the league, and once we got the [ruling] back, they said it was blocking in the back - holding. But it doesn't matter because we still need to get off blocks and make plays. We just got back to the basics this week: Low pad level, just getting off blocks and getting to the ball."
And things only got worse for special teams coordinator Danny Smith after a strange sequence of events on a punt in the fourth quarter that resulted in a turnover that Carolina quickly capitalized on to score the go-ahead touchdown. The play, on which punt returner Antwaan Randle El signaled for a fair catch, ended with the Panthers recovering the ball on the Redskins 12-yard line after Byron Westbrook was pushed into Randle El and the ball hit Westbrook's foot. "It was just a fluke play," Alexander said. "There was really nothing you could do. That happens but once in a blue moon."
As some of the Redskins learned the hard way, the play adhered to NFL rules. Carolina Coach Jox Fox said his team's players are instructed to block opponents into punt returners under the rules, but that's hard to execute. "It's so hard for you to be thinking about, 'Okay, well, this guy's got me blocked, so let me push him into him.' It kind of has to be set up like that, where it was a 5.0 hang time on a like a 30-yard punt, so they had more then enough time to kind of just jam him in.
"When you're in the flow of a game, it's hard to kind of think about, 'Oh, let me jam him and try to get him into the returner.' Everything that happened, the hang time, short punt, made it perfect to have that happen. I don't think you can really teach that. Now, if it happens like that for us, well, hopefully somebody makes that play."
At 2-3, the Redskins need a spark in an effort to even their record Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs at FedEx Field. After the late letdown on teams against the Panthers, that group hopes to be a catalyst for change.
"We kind of took that loss on us," Alexander said. "Those two plays right there put those guys in position to get the two touchdowns they had, which, ultimately, ended up winning it for them. Me and [special teams co-captain] Rock [Cartwright] were talking and just saying we've got to step it up. We want to be the spark and not the scapegoat for why we lost."
The Capital Weather Gang has the latest update on Sunday's forecast. Remember: There's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriately dressed people.
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