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.
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.