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Five takeaways from Redskins' improbable win against the Seahawks

Five takeaways from Redskins' improbable win against the Seahawks

SEATTLE—Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ improbable 17-14 win over the Seahawks.

The power of positive thinking—All week long the Redskins were relaxed and confident that they could stay in today’s game. There wasn’t cockiness or anything but they certainly weren’t afraid of coming in to the loudest stadium in the NFL with key players missing on both sides of the ball and competing for 60 minutes. As it turned out they had to go at it for every one of those 60 minutes as it didn’t end until Russell Wilson’s Hail Mary pass fell incomplete as time ran out. If you think you can, well, maybe you just might be able to do it.

If this game felt different, that’s because it was—This was the first time since at least 1999 that the Redskins have started a game-winning touchdown drive in the last two minutes of a game. That’s as far back as the database at Pro Football Reference goes. I should be able to find out when the last one was but it will take some time. But I can almost guarantee that they didn’t have four substitute offensive linemen in the game at the time.

RELATED: Biggest observations from Redskins' stunning win against the Seahawks

They need to feed Josh Doctson—We thought that Kirk Cousins had some faith in the second-year receiver after they connected on the touchdown bomb against the Raiders. Doctson did have two hands on the game winner in Kansas City the next week but he couldn’t hang on as he hit the ground. Since then, Cousins has thrown him the ball on occasion but he hasn’t taken advantage of his incredible catch radius. Until today, that is. The Redskins need more of that.

Good field goal defense is valuable—Blair Walsh missed three makeable field goals, leaving the Seahawks empty after some good drives. Sure, that’s mostly luck except that the defense stopped the Seahawks far enough away from the goal posts that Walsh’s attempts weren’t chip shots (44, 39, and 49 yards, all wide left). And certainly the Redskins benefitted from the Seahawks shooting themselves in the foot constantly with penalty. They had an incredible 16 flags for 138 yards. They were the ones committing false starts and holding penalties while the Redskins line, held together by duct tape, had just one false start and no holding penalties on pass plays. There was some luck involved, no doubt. But you have to be in position to take advantage of good fortune and the Redskins were.

Maybe the Redskins can win when they don’t run—The rushing game wasn’t much today, with 23 attempts for 51 yards. They won after getting fewer than 90 yards rushing for just the fourth time since Jay Gruden has been the head coach. The last time they did it was against the Ravens last year, another improbable road win. The other two times were in 2015, the division-clinching win in Philadelphia the day after Christmas and the “You like that!” comeback win against the Bucs.

The road ahead is not quite as daunting—At 4-4, the Redskins have two more tough ones in the next two weeks, the Vikings at home and the Saints on the road. Both teams lead their divisions. If the Redskins can find their way to get a split of there, they go into a stretch run that includes the Giants twice, the Broncos, the Cardinals, the Chargers, and a Cowboys team that may be without Ezekiel Elliott. The should be getting healthier as time goes by and they could be set up for a run to get themselves into playoff contention.

More Redskins: Norman's 'Don't take no crap' mentality is culture-changing

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Per report, league admits to getting Kirk Cousins' intentional grounding call wrong

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USA TODAY Sports

Per report, league admits to getting Kirk Cousins' intentional grounding call wrong

NEW ORLEANS—The Redskins apparently were on the wrong end of a bad call late in their game against the Saints on Sunday and, according to a report, the league admitted it.

Per Mike Jones of USA Today, a league official told Redskins president Bruce Allen that intentional grounding should not have been called against Kirk Cousins with the game tied with 28 seconds left in regulation on Sunday.

The rule is clear. From the NFL rule book:

It is a foul for intentional grounding if a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage because of pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion.

There wasn’t a Saints defender within a few yards of Cousins when he threw the ball. The pass was not to prevent a sack, it was a mixup with receiver Jamison Crowder.

MORE REDSKINS: A BRUTAL FINAL SIX MINUTES

But the men in stripes conferred and dropped a flag. The penalty was 10 yards, a loss of down, and a 10-second clock runoff. So instead of second and 10 at the 34 with time to run a few more plays, it was second and 20 at the 44 with time running out. The Redskins have every right to believe that they were robbed.

However, they also robbed themselves. The litany of self-inflicted problems is there for anyone who watched the game to see. From not being able to get a touchdown on the board early after D.J. Swearinger’s interception in Saints territory, to committing a false start lining up for a field goal try near the end of the first half, to the inability to get a yard on third and one and to the helplessness of the defense against Drew Brees in the final six minutes of regulation. The mistake by referee Walt Coleman’s crew was glaring but it was far from the only entry on the list of reasons the Redskins lost.

RELATED: TANDLER'S FIVE TAKEAWAYS

The thing is, it shouldn’t have been on the list at all. At least one official on the field is always able to communicate with the suits at 345 Park Avenue. They handle the replays from the league office and we get all kinds of strange interpretations of what a catch is or isn’t. Why can’t someone in New York get in the ear of someone in stripes on the field and say, “Hey, don’t drop that flag, he wasn’t under pressure?”

The technology to prevent a misinterpretation of the rules by the officials on the field is in place right now. It could be done with minimal disruption to the game. It’s a crime that the league won’t use it.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Need to Know: Five Key plays in Redskins vs. Saints

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Five Key plays in Redskins vs. Saints

NEW ORLEANS—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, November 20, three days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden press conference 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 10
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 20
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 27

Five key plays in Redskins vs Saints

D.J. Swearinger interception in the first quarter—Although the Redskins didn’t fully capitalize on the takeaway in Saints territory—they got a field goal—the play helped the Redskins jump on top in what would be a back-and-forth first half. Swearinger has three interceptions in the last two games.

Fourth and six pass to Vernon Davis for 26 yards—This was the first of two fourth-down gambles Gruden took. This one was from the New Orleans 39. This one paid off in spades as Kirk Cousins found Davis for a first down at the Saints 13. Three plays later Samaje Perine got in from a yard out. That made it 17-10 and the Redskins would not trail again until, well, you know.

False start when lined up for field goal—Things were going great for the Redskins as they had a nice drive going at the end of the half. The advance stalled and they lined up for a 51-yard field goal try. But there was a false start on the play and the Redskins had to punt. Josh Holsey almost downed it inside the one but he shuffled his feet one too many times and he fielded the ball with his heels on the goal line stripe, resulting in a touchback. That gave the Saints the field position they needed to drive for a field goal as time ran out.  

Fourth and one fake punt—The Redskins had just seen Chris Thompson get carted off the field after suffering a broken fibula in his right leg. It was fourth and one at the Washington 15 and they lined up in punt formation. Niles Paul took the direct snap and powered up the middle for five yards. Apparently inspired by the big, uh, courage shown by Jay Gruden on that, the Redskins continued the drive and got into the end zone on a 40-yard pass from Cousins to Ryan Grant. That put the Redskins up 24-13 with 1:44 left in the third.

Third and one Perine for minus-1—I don’t think I need go into much detail here, you know what happened.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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