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Redskins ride fourth-quarter rally to beat Browns

Redskins ride fourth-quarter rally to beat Browns

LANDOVER, MD— The Redskins started out like they were going to roll over the Browns, as many expected they would. But the Browns decided that they were not going to go down easily. In what turned out to be a back and forth battle the Redskins scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns and came away with a 31-20 win.

Their first two possessions were extended drives that ended with Kirk Cousins throwing touchdown passes to Jordan Reed. It was 14-0 late in the first quarter and it looked like the rout was on.

But the Browns battled back to tie it at halftime and took a 20-17 lead in the third quarter. They were driving for more late in the quarter but running back Duke Johnson fumbled, forced by Will Compton and recovered by Quinton Dunbar. The Redskins put together a 91-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a five-yard touchdown pass to Chris Thompson.  


The Browns had a couple of chances to retake the lead but another fumble and Josh Norman’s first interception as a Redskin killed the drives. After the Norman pick the Redskins drove 39 yards for the clinching TD, which came on a one-yard run by Matt Jones.

Jones had his best rushing day since Week 2 of last season, getting 117 yards on 22 carries.

 Injury Updates:

Ryan Kerrigan left the game in the second quarter with a left elbow injury. He did not return.

LB Su’a Cravens left the game in the third quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. He did not return.

S David Bruton left the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. He did not return.

LB Will Compton left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder strain. He returned to the game.

Scoring drives:  

First quarter           

Reed 8 pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 12 plays, 75 yads, 7:20

Drive summary: The Redskins sprinkled a few runs into their game opening march but it went mostly through the air. Kirk Cousins went to Jordan Reed for 10 yards for a first down and midfield. Then a pass to Thompson and two to Garçon got them to the 37. After a holding penalty, Chris Thompson went around right end for 20 yards and a first and goal at the 10. On second down, Cousins fired over the middle to Reed and the tight end caught his first touchdown pass of the year.

Redskins 7, Browns 0 7:40         


Reed 9 pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 8 plays, 80 yards, 4:14

Drive summary: The Redskins got an assist to get this drive started when the Browns were flagged for pass interference on DeSean Jackson, giving the Redskins 50 yards to the Browns 30. Cousins went to Reed for a first down and then a pair of Matt Jones moved it to first and goal at the nine. On third and goal Cousins scrambled to his left and lobbed it to Reed in the back of the end zone.

Redskins 14, Browns 0 0:27       


Second quarter

Crowell 2 run (Parkey kick)

Drive: 12 plays, 81 yards, 5:54

Drive summary: The Browns finally got their offense rolling. Isiah Crowell got it started with a 17-yard run up the middle. Then Kessler found Terrelle Pryor for gains of eight and 12 yards into Redskins territory. A pass to Ricardo Lewis picked up 13 yards for a first and goal at the five. Two plays later Crowell got into the end zone on some second effort.

Redskins 14, Browns 7 9:33       


Pryor 9 pass from Kessler (Parkey kick)

Drive: 3 plays, 12 yards, 1:25

Drive summary: The Browns got a short field to start with after Cousins threw an interception to Jamar Taylor, who returned it 29 yards to the Washington 12. On third down from the nine, Kessler dropped back and fired to Pryor for the touchdown.

Redskins 14, Browns 14 7:55    


FG Hopkins 49

Drive: 10 plays, 32 yards, 5:26

Drive summary: The Redskins started with good field position from their own 37. On third and one from the 46 Cousins rolled out a flipped short to Reed, who had plenty of space over the middle to rumble for 26 yards to the Browns 28. After Jones ran three times for a first down, an offensive pass interference call set up a third and 20 at the 27. A screen to Reed lost a few yards and Hopkins came in and booted the field goal.

Redskins 17, Browns 14 2:29    


FG Parkey 51

Drive: 7 plays, 42 yards, 2:29

Drive summary: The Browns answered the Redskins’ field goal with a late one of their own. Kessler went to Gary Barnidge for 13 yards and then to Duke Johnson for eight yards into Washington territory. A pass interference penalty on Josh Norman gave the Browns 11 yards, giving them enough to bring in Parkey to kick the long field goal as time expired.

Redskins 17, Browns 17  


Third quarter

FG Parkey 45

Drive: 11 plays, 48 yards, 5:35

Drive summary: Kessler got the drive started with an 11-yard pass that converted and third and nine. Then Crowell popped up the middle for 18 yards to the Washington 45. Crowell then converted a third and one with a six-yard run off the left side. On third and six at the 22 Kessler threw incomplete and Parkey came in and kicked the field goal.

Browns 20, Redskins 17 9:25                


Fourth quarter

Thompson 5 pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 10 plays, 91 yards, 5:28

Drive summary: The Redskins started back in the hole at their own nine after they recovered a Cleveland fumble. Cousins went to Jamison Crowder for 15 yards and then to Matt Jones for 16. Jones then ran twice for a first down at midfield. A pass interference call drawn by Jackson got them 21 yards to the 35. Jones engaged in some power running, barreling for 11 and 15 yards for a first and goal at the nine. Two plays later Cousins threw to Thompson on the right side and the back bolted into the end zone.

Redskins 24, Browns 20 10:39  


Jones 1 run (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 4 plays, 39 yards, 0:35

Drive summary: The Redskins got a short field to work with after Josh Norman’s first interception for Washington. Cousins went to Garçon on the sideline for 23 yards and then Jones got rolling around the left end for 16 yards to the one. After an offside penalty Jones powered up the middle for the TD.

Redskins 31, Browns 20  


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The makeup of the draft pool will shape the Redskins' first-round strategy

The makeup of the draft pool will shape the Redskins' first-round strategy

The makeup of the top players in the 2018 NFL Draft pool may push the Redskins into continuing a short-term draft trend that appears to be working out fairly well for them. 

For seven straight years beginning in 2009, the Redskins went along with the conventional wisdom in the draft, taking a player that primarily impacted the passing game or stopping the other team’s passing game, with their top draft picks. 

Their top pick (whether in the first or second round) in every draft from 2008-2014 was at a traditionally high-value position associated with the passing game — wide receiver (Devin Thomas), edge rusher (Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy), left tackle (Trent Williams), quarterback (Robert Griffin III), or outside cornerback (David Amerson). 

This was the Redskins going along with the conventional wisdom. Since 2000, 62 percent of first-round NFL draft picks have been players at those positions even though they account for just 32 percent of a team’s starters. 

The Redskins have shifted away for conducting the draft focused on the passing game at the top in two of the last three drafts. The Redskins selected guard Brandon Scherff (No. 5) in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and interior defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (No. 22) in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In between, they went the old way, selecting wide receiver Josh Doctson (No. 22) in the 2016 NFL Draft. 

This trend is likely to continue due in part to the makeup of the top talent in the draft.

If you’re not looking for a quarterback, the top half of the first round is very light in talented players playing the positions that are most important to the passing game — outside cornerback, edge rusher, left tackle, and wide receiver. Cornerback Denzel Ward is a top-10 player as is edge rusher Bradley Chubb. But that’s about it at those positions and there are no wide receivers or left tackles worthy of consideration in the top 15.

That leaves players like interior defensive linemen Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne and inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds as players who have the potential to be the best available players on the board when the Redskins are on the clock. Traditionally, these players play positions that teams are looking for in the latter stages of the first round at the earliest. 

They could go the non-traditional way for the third time in four years with Vea, Payne, Fitzpatrick, or Smith. In fact, unless Ward slips or they pull off a major surprise it’s likely that they will.

Scherff has worked out well and Allen was getting the job done as a rookie before he got injured so perhaps the way the draft plays out will work out well for Washington.

More Redskins Draft News


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Need to Know: Alex Smith will need to be a fast learner for the Redskins to be successful

Need to Know: Alex Smith will need to be a fast learner for the Redskins to be successful

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, April 24, two days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Smith will need support for the Redskins to be successful early

There are high expectations for new Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. He needs to replace Kirk Cousins, who was one of the league’s most productive passers over the past three years. Smith, of course, has been a solid performer himself. Since 2015, the first year that both were starters, Cousins has passed for more yards but primarily because he attempted 225 more passes. Their adjusted yards per attempt and passer ratings over that time are nearly identical.

Smith will be expected to be at peak production right out of the box. With 151 starts in 12 NFL seasons, he knows what is expected of him as the leader of the offense. 

However, he may have another issue, one we’ve seen from him before. He was traded from the 49ers to the Chiefs following the 2012 season. Smith got off to a rocky start in Andy Reid’s offense. In the first seven games, Smith threw seven touchdowns and four interceptions, posting 6.1 adjusted yards per attempt and a passer rating of 79.2. 

After that, he got rolling. In the final nine games, he threw 16 TD’s and three interceptions and improved his adjusted yard per attempt to 7.5 and his passer rating to 98.7.

Will it take him that long to pick up the Redskins offense? 

It needs to be noted that the Chiefs went 7-0 during the Smith’s bad start. They were able to support him with a running game that went over 100 yards every week (121 per game average) and a defense that didn’t allow over 17 points in any game and let up single-digit point totals in three of them. 

Looking at the history of the last three years, the Redskins would have more trouble winning if their quarterback was struggling as much as Smith was in his early Chiefs days. In fact, during Cousins’ three years as the starter, the Redskins went 2-17 in games where he posted a passer rating of 90 or lower. 

In his five seasons with the Chiefs, the team went 17-17 when Smith posted a passer rating of lower than 90. While that may say something about the relative abilities of the two quarterbacks to scuffle to a win when things aren’t going as well as planned, it says much more about the teams surrounding Smith and Cousins. 

Unless the Redskins’ defense and running game improve significantly—and that’s certainly possible—they won’t be able to prosper in wins column if Smith needs an extended adjustment period to get comfortable in Jay Gruden’s offense. 

He has a chance of doing so, based on the 2017 performances of the pass defenses he and the Redskins face in the first half of the season. In terms of pass defense DVOA, the Redskins face only one that ranked in the top 10, the No. 5 Saints. Also above average were the Panthers (10th) and the Cardinals (11th). Five of the opponents were in the lower half including the Cowboys (18th), Falcons (19th), Giants (20th), Packers (26th), and Colts (32nd). 

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

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Sent out as the Caps were holding on to a fourth-quarter lead over Columbus.


Today’s schedule: Pre-draft press conference with Doug Williams at Redskins Park, noon.

Days until:

—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 17
—OTAs start (5/22) 28
—Training camp starts (7/26) 93

The Redskins last played a game 114 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 138 days. 

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