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Cundiff comes through when it counts for Redskins

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Cundiff comes through when it counts for Redskins

TAMPAAfter Sundays 24-22 victory over the Buccaneers, Billy Cundiff put his foot up on a chair in the jubilent visitors' locker room. As he tied his shoe, wide receiver Josh Morgan bent over, grabbed a shower towel and pretended to polish the kickers Oxford.

They let out a hearty laugh.

A few minutes earlier on the field at Raymond James Stadium, Cundiff, Morgan and the rest of the Redskins had let out a sigh of relief after the team avoided a potentially devastating defeat.

The visitors had blown a 16-point second half lead, but with seven seconds remaining Cundiff booted a 41-yarder to clinch the win.Cundiff had missed his first three field goal attempts, including a 31-yarder in the fourth quarter.

I knew if I just got that chance -- no matter how bad a kicker I was in the game -- that I would make it, Cundiff said after the game.

Asked what was different on the game winner, the veteran cracked, We could get really kicker specific, or I could just tell you that I didnt choke.

Cundiff acknowledged that he probably would have been looking for a new job on Monday had he missed a fourth attempt and the Redskins lost by a single point. As it turned out, though, hell almost assuredly be in Ashburn, studying what we went wrong on the other three kicks.

I was just hoping he could keep focus after he missed the first one, Coach Mike Shanahan said. I told him it was going to come down to the game-winner and it did. He did a great job of concentrating.

But it wasnt easy, Cundiff conceded later.

It is tough, he said of being confident on the final kick after struggling. This place wasnt sold out, but everyone who was there essentially was reminding me of bad I performed earlier in the game. To find out about yourself, you have to be tested.

Here are some other notes, quotes and observations from the Redskins slump-busting victory:

Second half slipup:After limiting the Buccaneers to six points in the first half, the Redskins again struggled with big pass plays in the second half.

Two in particular hurt thema 65-yard completion to Mike Williams on a drive that culminated in a touchdown and a 54-yard pass to Vincent Jackson that also led to a score.

They made plays, said cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who had an interception as well as a few of blown coverages. They caught the ball. I gave up a couple.

Safety Madieu Williams added: We have to look at the film and be very critical of ourselves. Because in this league, you have to play four quarters. Although we played very well in first half, we have to play the complete game and we have yet to do that.

Injury update:Brandon Meriweather will have an MRI on his left knee on Monday after being involved in a scary pre-game collision with Aldrick Robinson. Both players had been expected to play but were put on the inactive list.

Meriweather was scheduled to make his season debut after missing the first three games with a two sprained ligaments in his right knee.

Robinson, meantime, was knocked unconscious during the collision. He likely will be subject to the NFLs protocol regarding concussions.

With Meriweather sidelined, the team turned to veteran Reed Doughty instead of second-year safety DeJon Gomes, who had started the first three games but was struggling.

Up and down kind of day:Pierre Garon, who missed the previous two games with a foot injury, returned Sunday and scored his teams first touchdown when he recovered Robert Griffin IIIs fumble in the end zone.

It felt good to get back out there and help the team as much as I could, he said. I knew all week that I was going to play. I was not 100-percent but I did everything I could.

Overall, it was an uneven afternoon for Garon. He had the touchdown, one reception (on one target) for 20 yards and drew a pass interference call. But he also was called for offensive pass interference and unnecessary roughness for throwing a late block on Aqib Talib.

It was during the play, playing through the whistle, he said.

Garon said he and his tender right foot emerged unscathed from the game.

Anatomy of miss (or three):Cundiff took fully responsibility for his first three misses.

On the first (from 41 yards) he said the timing between himself and snapper Justin Snow and holder Sav Rocca was off. The kick was yanked way wide of the uprights.

Its up to me to get in rhythm with those two guys, he said. Were still trying to gel and mesh.

On the second miss (from 57 yards) he said the snap and hold all went smoothly. He just didnt get enough leg into it. I was a yard or two short, he said. So that actually was not a bad kick.

The third (a miss from 31 yards) he called a, Complete mental error.

We got the win, but thats not the kind of stuff you want to put on film, he said. And thats not the stuff you want your teammates to see knowing that in the fourth quarter they have to be able to trust you.

Technical difficulties:Griffin said the one-way radio in his helmet stopped working on the final drive, which began inside two minutes.

In practice every week we always practice me calling the plays in the two-minute offense as if the headset goes out, Griffin said. I had to call a couple of my own plays and we moved the chains and got into field goal range. It was neat how that practice scenario played out in the game. You dont want it to happen, but I was pleased.

Griffin completed 26 of 35 passes for 323 yards all career highs.

Quotable: Ryan Kerrigan: "There's a huge different between 2-2 and 1-3. Hopefully this can be the start of something for us."

Quotable, part II: Hall on the Redskins defense Sunday: Average. We cant win letting leads like that go. Weve got to buckle down and finish games off.

By the numbers:The Redskins have scored 123 points through four games, the franchises highest point total during a four-game stretch since the 1999 season.

Play of the game:
With the Redskins leading 21-13 at the end of the third quarter, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called for a little trickery.

Griffin passed to Brandon Banks, who passed back to Griffin. Griffin then hit Niles Paul for a 30-yard gain.

It wasnt pretty, but it got the job done.

Unsung hero:
Trent Williams had a pronounced limp and a big brace on his right knee, but the starting left tackle played through the pain.

And, it should be noted, he played quite well after hardly practicing all week.

I got by, he said. I didnt totally dominate but we did enough to win. I was so caught up in the game, with it being so close, my knee was the last thing on my mind.

He added: I felt like I owe it to this team, to this city to get out there and battle through the pain.

Williams said he couldnt bring himself to watch Cundiffs final kick sail through the uprights.

I just watched Cundiffs reaction, he said. He made it when it counted.

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The five key plays in the Redskins’ win over the Panthers

The five key plays in the Redskins’ win over the Panthers

Every play in an NFL game is important but some matter to the outcome more than others. Here are the key plays in the Redskins’ 23-17 win over the Panthers.

1. Q1, 10:41 — Tress Way punts 51 yards to CAR 21, D.J. Moore to CAR 22 for 1 yard (Shaun Dion Hamilton). FUMBLES (Hamilton), RECOVERED by WAS-Jeremy Sprinkle at CAR 21. Sprinkle to CAR 22 for -1 yard. 

The Redskins did not get off to a promising start on offense as they went three and out on their first possession and punted. Panthers rookie D.J. Moore fielded the punt and tried to find some running room. He found Hamilton, who stripped the ball away and Sprinkle pounced on it.

It only took one play for the Redskins to cash in as Alex Smith found Vernon Davis wide open—as in nobody else in the picture open—for a touchdown to put the home team up 7-0. 

2. Q1, 8:50 — Alex Smith pass short middle to Jordan Reed to WAS 45 for 7 yards 

The Redskins were looking to add to their lead on their possession following the Davis touchdown. On third and eight at their own 38, Smith threw for Reed in the middle of the field. The pass was high and inside, forcing Reed to jump, reach back and stab the ball with his right hand. It was a true one-handed catch because he never touched the ball with his left hand. 

The only thing Reed did wrong on that play was to signal for a first down. It was short, but Smith got the first with a sneak on the next play. Some Adrian Peterson runs and a 21-yard pass from Smith to Davis helped get the Redskins down to the two-yard line. On third down from there, Smith found Paul Richardson for a TD to make it 14-0.

3. Q2, 11:32 — Cam Newton pass short middle to Moore to WAS 37 for 17 yards (Josh Norman). FUMBLES (Norman), RECOVERED by WAS -Mason Foster at WAS 33. 

Norman got his first interception since 2016 earlier in the second quarter but the offense couldn’t do anything with the possession. The next time the Panthers had the ball, Newton went to Moore on a crossing Pattern. He had some running room and it looked like the Panthers would advance well into Redskins territory. But as defenders converged on Moore, Norman reached in and stripped the ball out. “He never saw me coming,” said Norman. Foster recovered, and the Redskins drove for a field goal to go up 17-0. 

4. Q4, 13:43 — Alex Smith sacked at CAR 46 for -6 yards (Julius Peppers). FUMBLES (Peppers), recovered by WAS-Trent Williams at CAR 46. Williams to CAR 38 for 8 yards.

The Panthers had rallied to make it a one-score game at 17-9. On third and seven from the Carolina 40, Smith was immediately swarmed by the pass rush. The ball popped out and it fell into the hands of Williams to the left of the scrum. Going on sheer instinct, Williams headed upfield. Starting from six yards behind the line of scrimmage Williams rumbled eight yards for a net gain of two. That’s not much but it was enough to have Jay Gruden send Dustin Hopkins into the game to attempt a 56-yard field goal. The boot just made it over the uprights and Hopkins’ career-long kick had the Redskins up by two scores at 20-9. 

5. Q4, 0:38 — Cam Newton pass incomplete short right to Jarius Wright.

After the Redskins kicked a field goal to go up by six, Newton led a final drive that kept everyone on edge. Starting with 3:15 to play, Newton was sharp, completing six of seven passes for 50 yards to move the Panthers from their own 16 to second and five at the Washington 16. The Washington defense finally stiffened, and Newton’s next three passes fell incomplete. The last one went harmlessly to the ground, not particularly close to Wright or any other receiver. The Redskins and their fans could finally exhale and celebrate. 

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Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Panthers

Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 15, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Talking points

Here are the players who saw their stock go up against the Panthers on Sunday and others who saw their stocks drop. 

Stock up—A few days ago, CB Josh Norman was a penny stock. He had mixed up assignments in the blowout loss to the Saints and take a ton of criticism after the game, much of it warranted. During the Panthers game, he was a blue chip. Norman got his first interception in 20 games and he forced a fumble. There is still a lot of season to be played but for now, at least it’s good to be Josh Norman.

Stock down—They won the game and that’s the quarterback’s main job. But for the second straight game, Alex Smith did not play up to his $18.4 million cap number. He passed for 163 yards. At times you really wondered where he was throwing the ball and/or to whom he was throwing it. They were able to win thanks to Adrian Peterson’s rushing and three takeaways. To Smith’s credit, he protected the ball well and it should be noted he was without favorite targets, Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder. Regardless, it was not a sharp performance by Smith. 

Stock upPeterson came into the game with an injured ankle, knee, and shoulder. Not only did he fight through the pain, he thrived. Six days after he rushed for just six yards against the Saints and sat out most of the second half, he picked up 97 yards on 17 carries, an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Peterson did rip off a 19-yard run but mostly it was three yards here, six yards there. It was what the Redskins were expecting when the signed him. 

Stock down—With Thompson out, Kapri Bibbs had his big chance to show what he can do. He didn’t do much. Bibbs, who was promoted from the practice squad earlier this season, picked up 11 yards rushing on two carries and he caught one pass for six yards. There were some high hopes for Bibbs among Redskins fans. For today, he didn’t live up to them. 

Stock up—I know that Daron Payne didn’t make a ton of plays and his streak of games with at least one sack ended at two. But he was part of a defensive front that held Christian McCaffrey, who came into the game averaging 82.3 rushing yards per game (fourth in the NFL) and 5.2 yards per attempt, to 20 yards on eight attempts, a 2.5 per carry average. And he made a remarkable play, which is becoming routine for him, when he made the tackle on a tight end who had taken a screen pass well outside of the numbers. He’s a special talent and his stock will continue to rise. 

The agenda

Today: Open locker room 11:30; Jay Gruden press conference 3:00 

Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Giants 13; Redskins @ Eagles 49

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