Redskins

RG3 nearly perfect; Redskins beat Eagles 31-6

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RG3 nearly perfect; Redskins beat Eagles 31-6

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Robert Griffin III's perfect game was broken up by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who batted away a pass intended for Joshua Morgan late in the first half.

Otherwise, nothing the Washington Redskins rookie threw hit the ground. Fifteen attempts. Fourteen completions. Four touchdowns. Two hundred yards on the nose. Yet another game without an interception.

``Except for that one incompletion, I thought he was OK,'' coach Mike Shanahan deadpanned.

Griffin threw for a touchdown in every quarter - 6 yards to Darrel Young, 49 to Aldrick Robinson, 61 to Santana Moss and 17 to Logan Paulsen - and ran 12 times for 84 yards in Sunday's 31-6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

``I'm tired of talking about Robert,'' Moss said with a laugh. ``Nothing's going to change; Robert's going to go out there and be special. That's the gift that he has, he's a special guy. He brings that kind of `specialness.' I don't know if that's a word, but he brings it to our offense.''

Moss might be running out of ways to extol Griffin's virtues, but he's certainly reaping the benefits. He has six touchdown receptions this season despite playing in a reduced role; no other Redskins receiver has more than two. He made Griffin look good by leaping between two defenders to make a catch and fighting his way into the end zone for his score in the third quarter, a throw that prompted an ``oh, no - oh, yes'' reaction from Shanahan.

``There's a difference between playing fearless and being stupid,'' Griffin said. ``You just have to be able to tiptoe that line. Now if it had been an interception, the pass would have looked stupid. But because it was a touchdown, it was fearless.''

The game for last place in the NFC East left a thick line between the Redskins and Eagles. The win allows Washington (4-6) to feel like a playoff contender for at least a few more days, while Philadelphia (3-7) is doomed to spending six more weeks enduring endless questions about the future of the franchise.

``I don't know how it can get much worse,'' Eagles tight end Brent Celek said.

The Eagles have lost six straight, accelerating the countdown toward the possible end of Andy Reid's 14-year tenure as coach.

``I don't sense a lack of focus,'' said Reid, who declined to directly answer a question about his job security. ``That's not what I sense. I see them playing hard. I see them focusing in at practice. At times, maybe we're trying too hard.''

The Redskins, meanwhile, have a short week before heading to Texas for a Thanksgiving visit to the Dallas Cowboys. Washington had lost three in a row entering Sunday's game, but that's not enough to derail hopes of contending in a down year for the division.

``When things don't go your way, you just kind of get lost,'' right guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. ``You get that sinking feeling again. And to be able to get out of that and get a win, it's going to do huge things for this next game and here on out - because there's a feeling of `Hey, we're back in this.'''

Lichtensteiger then paused and asked: ``Did Dallas lose?''

The Cowboys, in fact, won. They pulled out an overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns to improve to 5-5. Still, it says something that the Redskins are able to do some meaningful scoreboard watching.

``It was a game we had to have,'' said Shanahan, who reversed himself a couple of weeks ago after initially indicating that the playoffs were out of reach.

The Redskins also finally found a formula for beating a rookie quarterback: force turnovers and have your own rookie play better. The defense got three takeaways and four sacks while facing Nick Foles, the third-round pick from Arizona who was making his first NFL start because Michael Vick is sidelined with a concussion.

Foles' first two drives ended with interceptions, putting the Redskins on their way to ending a remarkable eight-game losing streak against rookie quarterbacks that began in 2006. Foles completed 21 for 46 for 204 yards.

``That's the kind of football we've been wanting to play all year,'' said Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. ``And especially with Philly having a young quarterback, we wanted to really get after him.''

NOTES: Eagles RB LeSean McCoy had 15 carries for 45 yards before being carted off in the final two minutes with a concussion. ... The Eagles have their longest in-season losing streak since dropping seven in a row at the end of 1994. ... Griffin has only three interceptions in 277 attempts this season. Foles already has three in just 78 attempts. ... Washington last beat a rookie quarterback on Dec. 24, 2005, a 24-9 win over Ryan Fitzpatrick and the St. Louis Rams. ... Washington S Brandon Meriweather, who had been sidelined with a left knee injury, had an interception but also hurt his right knee in the third quarter. He's expected to play against Dallas. ... Washington WR Pierre Garcon returned from a foot injury and caught three passes for 5 yards.

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8 snap counts and judgments from Redskins' win over Buccaneers and beyond

8 snap counts and judgments from Redskins' win over Buccaneers and beyond

Time for our weekly review of the Washington Redskins snap counts, plus some big picture thoughts one day after Sunday’s 16-3 road victory at Tampa Bay.

♦The Redskins didn’t boldly acquire safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix before the recent NFL trade deadline for him to look cool on the sideline in his No. 20 jersey. After mixing the ex-Packer in for 71 percent of the defensive snaps against the Falcons in his debut days after the trade, Clinton-Dix joined fellow safety D. J. Swearinger on the field for all 69 defensive snaps against the Buccaneers.

Clinton-Dix finished third in tackles (8) against Tampa Bay. The free safety racking up that many tackles isn’t ideal for the defense, of course. He did recover a fumble and was credited with a single pass defended.

♦Jonathan Allen (43), Daron Payne (42) and Matt Ioannidis (43) all played a bit less than normal. Chalk it up to the coaching staff keeping players fresh in the warm conditions. Tim Settle (11) only received five snaps over the previous four games. Stacy McGee (11) made his season debut after the Redskins activated him from the PUP list this week.

♦Cassanova McKinzy didn’t just make his defensive debut for the Redskins. The outside linebacker:

  • Played more defensive snaps (24) than 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson (22)
  • Was active game day ahead of veteran Pernell McPhee
  • Played late in the fourth quarter with the game result still in the balance

That’s quite extraordinary for the 25-year-old undrafted free agent who moved from the practice squad to the 53-man roster multiple times this season. That the Redskins deactivated McPhee automatically sent a signal something was up considering the limited outside linebacker depth.

McKinzy finished with one official tackle, essentially falling on Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Tampa Bay quarterback gathered a fumble. The former Auburn Tiger’s biggest play, a strip-sack and fumble recovery inside Washington’s 20-yard-line, was wiped out by a Josh Norman holding penalty.

Anderson was not officially credited with a tackle or forced fumble, though he clearly punched the ball away from Bucs running Jacquizz Rodgers. Clinton-Dix recovered the ball in the end zone for one of the defense’s four turnovers.

McPhee, who was added this offseason in free agency as pass rush help, had zero sacks in eight games. His playing time ranged from 18-24 percent of defensive snaps this season.

♦Ryan Kerrigan (64 percent) and Preston Smith (70) both played their least percentage of snaps this season. Again, we’ll assume this usage a nod to the heat thrown down by Mother Nature.

♦Whatever blame Zach Brown felt from the coaching staff, it didn’t reflect in his playing time; the 75 percent of snaps meshed with previous weekly amounts.

♦Wide receiver snaps: Josh Doctson (45), Maurice Harris (38), Michael Floyd (31), Brian Quick (21). Percentage-wise, Doctson and Harris ticked down in part because the three tight ends each played 45 percent of the snaps in the same game for the first time this season. The need for more run-blocking in light of the offensive line issues likely played a factor in more work for Floyd.

♦Danny Johnson (18) played early in place of the inactive Quinton Dunbar, but ultimately fellow rookie cornerback Greg Stroman (39) more than doubled his snap total. Both players were credited with a pass defended, but Stroman added an interception and a forced fumble. Either rookie will be challenged in Week 11 against the Texans receiver duo of DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas if Dunbar sits again.

♦Random stat for the win: Alex Smith finished with EXACTLY 178 passing yards for the third time in four games. Equally amazing considering NFL offenses in 2018, the Redskins are 3-0 in those games. They lost to Atlanta in Week 9 when Smith finished with 306 yards as Washington played catch-up.

Props to the Redskins for Sunday’s gritty win. The NFC East leaders, now 6-3 overall and 2-0 in the division, hold a two-game lead over the 4-5 Cowboys and Eagles. Winning just three of their final seven games might be enough to win the division. One can’t win the Super Bowl without making the playoffs, so let’s not discount the potential achievement, especially after zero postseason appearances since 2015.

There’s a difference between qualifying for the playoffs and truly contending. It’s hard projecting Washington as a true contender based on recent performances and current injuries.

The defense, which allowed 501 net yards yet only three points at Tampa Bay, did the best version of bend but don’t break in NFL history. Seriously, this isn’t a joke.

The Redskins forced the Buccaneers into methodical mode offensively. The more plays run, the more chances for mistakes. Fitzpatrick and crew made plenty while Washington defenders consistently held strong in the red zone. That’s probably not good enough most week against steadier offenses. Let’s not forget Atlanta struck for 38 points and 491 yards in Week 9. Among the league leaders in yards allowed per game for most of the season, the Redskins now rank 17th (361.0).

The concern, however, exists on the other side. Washington could barely put up points or move the ball through the air against Tampa’s 30th ranked pass defense. The Redskins now rank 26th in scoring offense (19.6) and yards per game (337.4).

The Redskins are obviously shorthanded. We’ll see when Trent Williams, Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson return.

The NFL is unforgiving. Other teams are missing integral components as well. The key is adjusting. The Redskins did good work against the Buccaneers. The same likely won’t be enough for two wins over the next three weeks against Houston, at Dallas on Thanksgiving and at Philadelphia.

That’s short-term. If we're talking bigger picture, it’s hard projecting Washington as a true contender under current conditions. Then again, who had them 6-3 after nine games regardless.

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3 things to watch for Wizards vs. Magic, as Wizards return home

3 things to watch for Wizards vs. Magic, as Wizards return home

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards take on Mo Bamba, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Back home

After playing eight of their last 10 games on the road, the Wizards finally return to D.C. for an extended homestand. They will play their next five games at Capital One Arena and the first three are against teams with losing records.

So far this season, the Wizards are just 1-3 at home. But in 2017-18 they went 23-18 at home and the year before they went 30-11. This next stretch is an opportunity for them to right the ship.

Quick rematch

The Wizards saw the Magic just two games ago, on Friday, in Orlando. The Magic went up 25 points, yet the Wizards stormed back to cut the lead to one before collapsing late. Seven different Magic players reached double figures, including Mo Bamba, Jerian Grant and Terrence Ross off the bench.

The Wizards have to do a better job rebounding against Orlando and they need to lock down the three-point line. The Magic shot 41.9 percent (13-for-31) from long range. The Wizards also had 18 turnovers, which led to 29 points for Orlando.

Magic are playing well

The win against the Wizards wasn't an outlier for the Magic, who are off to a surprising 6-7 start, a record that currently places them ninth in the East. They have won four of their last five and includes a victory in San Antonio against the Spurs.

Defense remains the Magic's overall strength. They can't score. But they are hitting more threes this season. They rank 16th in the NBA in threes per game (10.6) and are top-10 in attempts.

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