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Turning Point: It’s usually a joke to say this, but it was the opening drive: A sharp, crisp, impressive drive with a horrid ending. Thirteen plays, almost seven minutes, all for naught when Jarred Allen, not of the Canton Allens, whips Chris Samuels and knocks the ball out of Mark Brunell’s hand. No tuck rule here, although Brunell had started his passing motion. At least three points down the drain there. On the road, against a quality team, you can’t let chances like that get away from you. This drive set the tone for the game.
They made it look easy: The Redskins’ second drive was a case of them just forcing their will on the KC defense. The Redskins had good rhythm, they got a big play and a lot of moderate gainers and just got it in with what will probably be Santana Moss’ shortest TD catch of the year. It looked like the same play they’d scored a few times earlier on this year. For a brief moment, I thought that Mike Sellers had shrunk dramatically as he had made the last two TD catches on that rollout play. Brunell threw to the same spot, only it was Moss there and not the big TE.
It had to happen: You can only ask for so many third-down runs by Brunell before he eventually coughs it up. Unlike his efforts against Dallas, Seattle, and Denver, he had defenders in the vicinity before he got the first. He couldn’t slide and he probably wasn’t aware of Allen behind him. The Chiefs made a deli sandwich special #8 sandwich out of Brunell and lost it.
Maybe it’s just me: Tapping the helmet of the quarterback, like Marcus Washington did to Trent Green on Chiefs’ first drive of the second half is 15 yards for roughing the passer, but a blow to the middle of the neck like Patrick Ramsey got in the opening game is not. Does anyone else find that a bit odd? All that being said, Marcus Washington has to know better than to do that. If you’re going to get the 15 yards anyway, at least get your money’s worth out of it.
Afterburners: Santana Moss has them. How often do you see a receiver make a run like that and the nearest player to him is on his own team and he’s trailing by five yards. There wasn’t a Chief in the picture. After about 50+ WR screens thrown since Gibbs returned, one finally pays off.
Son of Killer: It’s hard sitting on the bench all season, playing only special teams, and then carrying the ball in the third quarter of a tied NFL game. Still, you can’t cough it up, Rock Cartwright. You just can’t. The whole drive was identical to the first drive of the game in terms of momentum. Everything was working for the Redskins. It was a second and three play that he lost the ball on. If you move the ball like they have been and fail to put up points, you won’t win. Go back to the first paragraph here. You can’t give up chances to score. When they turn it around on you, that’s just one of those things that happens, but lose the opportunity to score is bigger.
Early Exit: with 1:40 to play, Moss catches his tenth pass of the game to convert a third down just prior to the Redskins’ TD that tied the game at 21. He wouldn’t catch another one the rest of the day.
The Game Winner: This was one right out of the playbook of Gibbs I and probably Vermeil I as well. Two play fakes, one to the back, one to an end around and then throw the screen. No doubt the original versions of these plays called for the left offensive tackle, Willie Roaf in this case, to hold in order to prevent the timing of the play from being disrupted. If not for the hold, Philip Daniels is in Green’s face and the play is dead. And, on the chalkboard back in the early 80’s and on the PowerPoint today, there’s a linebacker who doesn’t react to the play, who is engaging a blocker in front of him while Holmes is dashing by just behind him. Of course, Warrick Holman is playing in front of a linebacker who is benched in part because he overreacts to plays. I guess it’s better not to react at all.
Great Hit, Bad Luck: The Redskins haven’t forced many fumbles this season, but when they have the ball certainly hasn’t bounced their way. Early in the fourth, Sean Taylor, as he seems to do at least once each game, came in like a guided missile and popped the ball out of Homles’ grasp. It went into the air and, like a guided missile, albeit a tumbling one, it went straight into the hands of Tony Gonzalez. No crazy bounce, no ball resting on the ground waiting to be snared by a defender, just an easy grab for the tight end.
Fourth and inches: There’s not a chance in hell that Holmes made the first down when Vermeil decided to go for it with 10 minutes left to go. That spot was generous by a full half yard. The taped reaction they showed from Vermeil immediately after the play was a reaction of disgust because he knew that they didn’t make it, not one of celebration. It may not have had an effect on the outcome of the game, but it may have. That play happened at the KC 41, the Redskins got the punt after the next three plays at their own 15. In a seven point game, 45 yards of field position is huge. Not that KC would have played the same defense, but the Redskins did gain 45 yards on the subsequent drive. Perhaps Gibbs should have challenged. We were never shown a different angle, but there’s not a chance that he made that.
Why?: The play after the two-minute warning is a head-scratcher to say the least. You can run and set it up so that you punt from near midfield to a team with no timeouts left with about 1:15 to go. It didn’t cost the Chiefs the game, but that’s why it came so close.
Long time: There were 59 seconds left on the clock when the ball was snapped on the third and 10 play from the KC 48. The play got the first down, but by the time that Brunell threw the ball away in the end zone from the 33 on the subsequent play, only 29 second remained. I’m generally not in favor of spiking the ball unless you’re inside of 10 seconds left in the half, but using up over half the time left in the game hurt a lot. Had Brunell been able to buy 10-15 seconds in exchange for a down, he would have been able to throw short of the end zone in the middle of the field and would have had a chance to stop the clock.
Keepaway: The Redskins have a horrid turnover ratio, but it’s not the fault of the offense. Yes, they’ve turned the ball over more than the average team and that, on the face of it, cost them the game today. Subtract three points from the Redskins on the turnover on their first drive, add seven to KC on the Cartwright fumble and you have ten points in a seven-point game But the important thing is the ratio, the differential. And that number was awful for the Redskins today, and it has been all year, because the defense can’t take the ball away from the other team. The Chiefs put the ball on the ground twice today, the Redskins three times. Washington lost all three, KC recovered both of theirs. That defies the odds and don’t give me that stuff about practicing it. Recovering a fumble in the NFL is almost 100% luck with the rest due to dirty play in the pile. The Redskins have been extremely unlucky.
You are what your record says you are: And the Redskins are a 3-2 team, tied for second in the division and tied for last in the division. They could have won either of the two games they’ve lost and they could easily have lost any of the games they won. If they can get good enough and lucky enough to take the ball away from the other team on occasion, they will be just fine.
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