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Turning Point—The Goal Line Stand

Turning Point—The Goal Line Stand

The Washington Redskins scored on a three-play drive to take a 14-3 lead over the Cleveland Browns with 12:28 left to play. Derrick Anderson started to heat up and nine plays and 4:10 later the Browns had a second and 10 at the Washington 19. The Redskins brought the heat but Cleveland had the right play called, a screen to power running back Jamal Lewis. Chris Horton just tripped up Lewis at the one with 8:01 left to play.

What followed was the stuff that legends are made of. The ensuing goal line stands saved the game for the Redskins, even though the Browns ultimately scored. Here is that anatomy of that sequence of plays:

1-1-WAS 1 (7:22) 31-J.Lewis right guard to WAS 1 for no gain (59-L.Fletcher, 64-K.Golston).

It's an I-formation power run and Anderson hands off to Lewis. Fletcher is lined up a few yards deep in the end zone and when he reads the play he comes flying in—literally, as he leapt at the goal line and made contact with Lewis about a yard behind the line of scrimmage. Lewis had no chance to get his momentum going and he easily went down for a loss of about a half a yard.

2-1-WAS 1 (6:41) 3-D.Anderson pass short right to 41-C.Ali to WAS 3 for -2 yards (59-L.Fletcher).

From an I formation again, the Browns put Joshua Cribbs in motion from right to left. LaRon Landry follows cribs and there is nobody on the right side of the line. Charles Ali tries to sneak out onto the right side after a play action fake. Fletcher, lined up about five yards deep in the end zone, immediately recognized the play and shot to Ali, bringing down the stunned fullback with a great open-field tackle.

3-3-WAS 3 (5:58) (Shotgun) 3-D.Anderson pass incomplete short right to 29-J.Wright (55-J.Taylor).

From shotgun, Anderson again tries to dump one off to a back. This time Braylon Edwards is split out to the right and at the snap he runs a slant in an attempt to clear out the right side. But Fletcher is having none of it and neither is Carlos Rogers, who stays in his zone a few yards deep in the end zone. As Anderson's pass floats towards Jason Wright, Rogers comes up from behind and Fletcher flies in from the inside. Wright has no chance.

4-3-WAS 3 (5:53) (Shotgun) 3-D.Anderson pass incomplete short middle to 17-B.Edwards (92-D.Evans).

By now, more than six and a half minutes have come off the clock since the Browns started their drive and a little over two minutes have ticked off since the Browns got a first and goal at the one. Edwards runs a short post to the back of the end zone and it looked like an accurate pass with plenty of mustard on it might have resulted in a touchdown. But Demetric Evans, who was a bit slow getting off the ball, engaged the guard, and timed his leap perfectly to knock Anderson's pass to the ground.

Should Romeo Crennel have kicked a field goal to make it a one-score game, as Solomon Wilcots and Ian Eagle said during the telecast and others have said since? It's a cogent argument but I think Crennel made the right call. They hadn't been that close all day and he didn't know if they would get that close again. I think that you go for the TD when you're close since you can get the three from much further away.

1-10-WAS 3 (5:47) 26-C.Portis right end to WAS 27 for 24 yards (24-E.Wright). FUMBLES (24-E.Wright), RECOVERED by CLE-21-B.Pool at WAS 29. 21-B.Pool pushed ob at WAS 29 for no gain (82-A.Randle El). Washington challenged the loose ball recovery ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #2 at 05:36.)

Portis said that he "lost focus" on ball protection, thinking that he might be able to break it all the way. AS Portis' arms were churning, Eric Wright knocked the ball out and Cleveland's Pool finally got the handle on the ball just before Antwaan Randle El knocked him out of bounds. Anderson passes to Edwards and Kellen Winslow got the Browns down to the one again. Rocky McIntosh made a good hit to blunt Winslow's momentum as the tight end appeared to be lunging into the end zone. It was second and goal with 4:49 to go.

2-1-WAS 1 (4:15) 31-J.Lewis up the middle to WAS 1 for no gain (64-K.Golston, 52-R.McIntosh).

By the time the ball is snapped, more than eight minutes has gone by since the Browns started their original drive after the Redskins had made it 14-3 and almost four minutes had gone by since the initial first and goal at the one. Kedric Golston shoots the gap and pulls back Lewis as the back was trying to find some room to operate after the Redskins had moved the line of scrimmage back a half a yard with a strong charge.

3-1-WAS 1 (3:34) 31-J.Lewis left end to WAS 1 for no gain (54-H.Blades, 22-C.Rogers).

A pitch to Lewis, a play that was effective on a few occasions during the game, has no chance. Rogers immediately recognizes it—I'm not sure why Edwards, on whom Rogers was lined up tight, didn't try to blog him—and charges up to trip up Lewis. Lewis may have been able to stumble in after that but Blades finishes off the play.

4-1-WAS 1 (2:49) 3-D.Anderson pass short middle to 16-J.Cribbs for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN.

From the power I formation, the Browns weren't about to test the run defense again. Cribbs was lined up as a wing on the left side and he took a couple of steps to the inside just before the snap. He went behind the line of scrimmage and was wide open with McIntosh trailing by a few steps. Anders got some heat from Evans but with so much room his toss easily found its way into Cribbs' hands.

The touchdown was scored with 2:44 left to play. That was about 10 minutes after the first drive started and more than five minutes after the original first and goal. The time that it took the Browns to score was a critical element that allowed the Redskins to hang on for the win.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

There's still time to vote on this one:

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Who will be the Redskins' core offensive players three years from now?

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Who will be the Redskins' core offensive players three years from now?

Just before training camp, I took a stab at figuring out who on the Redskins roster would still be with the team and contributing in the year 2020. Now that the season is over, let’s revisit that look, move it up to 2021, and see how much the picture has changed. The offense is up today, the defense later this week.

The terms used here are mostly self-explanatory. If you want details you can look at this post from a couple of years ago.   

Offense (age as of Week 1 2021)

Potential blue-chip players: Brandon Scherff (29), Morgan Moses (30)
Changes from last prediction: Moses added, removed Trent Williams (33), Jordan Reed (31)

Scherff and Moses both are two young players who should get better with more experience. The right side of the line will be in good hands assuming the Redskins will be able to re-sign Scherff, who will be a free agent following the 2019 season.

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Williams will be 33 in 2021. He can play at a very high level at that age but I think he will be just below the perennial Pro Bowl status he enjoys now. Although I think that the Redskins can still get some good play out of Reed in the next couple of years, it’s hard to imagine him staying productive into his 30’s. He is under contract through 2021 but it’s hard to see him playing in Washington past 2020.

Solid starters: Jamison Crowder (28), Josh Doctson (27), Chris Thompson (30), Williams
Changes: Doctson, Thompson, Williams added, Kirk Cousins (33), Terrelle Pryor (32), Moses removed.

I’m probably higher on Doctson than most. I don’t see him attaining All-Pro status or catching 100 passes in a season but his physical talent is so good that he will be a solid, productive receiver for the next several years. The Redskins will need to find a third receiver but they will have two good ones in Crowder and Doctson.

Third-down back isn’t technically a starting position but Thompson should still be contributing as much to the offense as many starters.

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I think that Cousins will be a solid starter somewhere in 2021 but it is not looking like it will be in Washington. Pryor obviously did not work out and he is very likely to be playing elsewhere next year.

Potential starters: Spencer Long (30), Rob Kelley (28), Samaje Perine (25), Chase Roullier (28)
Changes: Added Roullier, moved Doctson up

Long could be a fixture on the O-line in 2021 or he could be signed by a different team in March. I don’t think that Kelley or Perine will be workhorse backs but either or both could be a part of a tandem. Roullier could move up to the “solid starters” category if he can repeat what he did in a small sample size (7 starts) in 2017.

There are other players who could end up on these lists a year from now. But we haven’t seen enough of 2017 draft picks TE Jeremy Sprinkle or WR Robert Davis to offer an intelligent assessment of where their careers are headed. It’s the same with undrafted linemen Tyler Catalina and Kyle Kalis. They might not make the team in 2018 or they could be competing for starting jobs in 2019.

There also are reserves like Ryan Grant (30) and Ty Nsekhe (35) who still could be on the roster but who would only be spot starters.

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.