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Flashback Friday—Arrington’s return sparks Skins’ win

Flashback Friday—Arrington’s return sparks Skins’ win

Yes, it's only Thursday but with the Independence Day holiday and most everything coming to a standstill as far as the Skins are concerned for another couple of weeks, here's FF a day early.

On October 21, 2001 the Redskins were 0-5 and staring 0-6 right in the face until LaVar Arrington made a play that turned around not just a game but the season as well.

From the pages of The Redskins From A to Z

FedEx Field—After three and a half quarters of football that strongly resembled the first 20 quarters of a dismal season, lightning struck twice for the Redskins in the final period as they tied the game on big plays by Lavar Arrington and Rod Gardner. Brett Conway's 23-yard field goal beat Carolina in overtime.

"You hate to say you don't believe it, but I really don't believe we won," Arrington said. "There were a lot of crazy turns and twists in that game."

Perhaps his ability to comprehend was somewhat affected by the concussion he had suffered in the first half. He went back into the locker room, rested until he regained his senses, and then went back into the game.

"I didn't think it would take this long, but it did," Marty Schottenheimer said. "We are growing. I'm more delighted, frankly, for the players than myself because they're the ones that had to endure in the circumstances that unfolded in the ballgame [today] and they wouldn't give up."

As mentioned, the game started out as though it would be no different from the futile experience of the first five games. The Panthers drove to a touchdown on their second possession after an exchange of punts gave them good field position at their own 47. It took them six plays to move the 53 yards and Wesley Walls caught a two-yard scoring pass from Chris Weinke to account for the score.

While the Redskin offense was utterly ineffective, the defense did step up with a pair of second-quarter interceptions by defensive linemen to snuff out Panther drives deep into Redskin territory. First, with the line of scrimmage at the eight, linebacker Antonio Pierce smashed into Weinke, forcing a fluttering pass that tackle Kenard Lang picked off. Then, with time running out in the half Carolina had the ball at the Redskin one. Out of timeouts, Weinke had to pass. Tackle Dan Wilkinson tipped the ball, however, and rookie defensive end Otis Leverette got the pick with eight seconds left.

No inspiration was drawn from the clutch defensive plays, however, and a sense that another loss was inevitable began to grow. An 83-yard drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters ended with Tim Biakabutuka's one-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0. Washington went three and out and a 27-yard Biakabutuka run had Carolina in Washington territory at the 31. Two plays later, it was third and seven at the 28.

It wasn't a particularly risky play that Carolina called, a little toss in the flat to Chris Hetherington. Arrington was nearby and zeroed in on the fullback as the ball came into his hands. The ball bounced out, though and, in a flash, Arrington went from tackler to pass defender, snatching the ball out of the air and taking off for the goal line. He cruised the 68 yards unchallenged and the game, perhaps the season, took on a new complexion.

Another play was needed, however, for Arrington's to do any good and the Redskins got it in short order. The Panthers failed to get a first down and their punt rolled dead at the Washington 15. On first down, Tony Banks, who had been booed lustily for most of the game, saw that rookie receiver Rod Gardner had worked his way past the Carolina zone. The quarterback delivered the ball on target and the receiver easily coasted into the end zone to tie it up midway through the fourth quarter.

The Panthers were clearly broken and meekly went three and out. The energized Redskins would eventually score the winning field goal, but it would take them two tries to get it. First they drove smartly to the Panther 13, but Conway missed a 32-yard field goal with 36 seconds left in regulation. After winning the toss in overtime, it took the Redskins just four plays to end it.

From the Washington 14, Stephen Davis carried for two yards and then Banks threw to fullback Bryan Johnson for 32 yards to the 48. On the next play, Banks connected with Gardner again. The rookie made a diving catch at around the five, bounced up and bolted into the end zone. A wild celebration was cut off, however, when replay revealed that Gardner had been touched while he was on the ground. The festivities resumed shortly as Conway came in and kicked the game-winner from 23 yards.

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

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

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

In case you missed it

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it