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A day of ups and downs for the Redskins


A day of ups and downs for the Redskins

ATLANTA—When Scot McCloughan came in as the Redskins general manager, the talked about having a tough team. Jay Gruden has talked a lot about resilience lately. The Redskins displayed both attributes by the bushel in the Georgia Dome today but they couldn’t come away with a win.

They seemed to have today’s game with the Falcons under control at times. A few times it looked like they were sure to win it. At others it looked like there was no way they would be able to rally. Here is a look at the game’s ups and downs.

Up: The Redskins did what they have been doing all year, putting together a long drive and capping it with a score. This one went 12 plays and culminated in a seven-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Derek Carrier to give the Redskins a 7-0 lead in the second quarter. I looked like the Redskins were having one of those lucky days as Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant dinked makeable field goals off of both the left and right uprights.

Down: Bryant did manage to his a couple of field goals, though, and the Redskins were clinging to a 7-6 lead in the fourth quarter. Then the Falcons got a little luck as Devonta Freeman fumbled trying to get it into the end zone but Julius Jones recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown that put the Falcons up 12-7 with 9:14 left to play.

Up: The Redskins bounced back immediately, taking just three plays to regain the lead. A 26-yard pass from Cousins to Jamison Crowder got things going. Then Cousins went for Rashad Ross on a deep pass that drew a pass interference flag. That set up Matt Jones’ two yard touchdown run on the next play and the Redskins were up 13-12.

Things were looking even better after Bashaud Breeland picked off a Matt Ryan pass and made a nifty 28-yard return to the Atlanta 21. They burned off over three minutes of clock before Dustin Hopkins’ field goal put them up by four with 2:38 left.

Down: But they don’t call Ryan Matty Ice for nothing. He engineered an 80-yard drive. It looked like Freeman scored the game winner with 51 seconds left when he lunged into the end zone after catching a slant from Ryan. But the ball popped loose when he hit the ground and a replay review overturned it. No matter, Freeman scored on a run with 24 seconds left to put the Falcons up 19-16. So all the replay reversal did was allow the Falcons to burn more time off of the clock and create an even more desperate situation when the Redskins got the ball at the 20 after the kickoff.

Up: But it turned out that the Redskins had just enough time. A 20-yard pass from Cousins to Carrier got it going and then a deep pass over the middle to Pierre Garçon got them to the edge of field goal range. After Jamison gained seven yards on an out pattern, Hopkins came in and booted a 52-yard field goal to send it into overtime.

Things were looking good in overtime as the Redskins moved to midfield. They were a few plays away from perhaps a field goal to take the lead our a touchdown that would win it.

Down: The one last down moment was the dagger. On second down, Cousins had pressure in his face and pass to the right sideline in the direction of Ryan Grant. But the receiver slipped to the ground, allowing Robert Alford to get an easy interception and a 59-yard return for the TD to end it.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins lose a heartbreaker as Cousins throws OT pick-six

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

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

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Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

In case you missed it

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Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Titans. 

Week 16 December 22 or 23, Nissan Stadium (the date of the game will be determined no later than Week 8 in early November)

2017 Titans: 9-7, Second in AFC South, lost in the divisional round 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 8

Early line: Redskins +5.5

Key additions: CB Malcolm Butler, DT Bennie Logan, RB Dion Lewis

Key losses: DT Sylvester Williams, RB DeMarco Murray

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Marcus Mariota improved from his rookie year and had a solid 2016. But he regressed last season. In which direction is his career headed?
  • After head coach Mike Mularkey took the Titans to the second round of the playoffs he was summarily fired. Will they regret making to switch to Mike Vrabel?

Series history

The all-time series between the two teams is tied a 6-6; the teams split six games when the franchise was the Houston Oilers and they have gong 3-3 since the move to Tennessee. 

Series notables

The first time: October 10, 1971, RFK Stadium—The Redskins offense didn’t score a touchdown but that often didn’t matter when George Allen was the head coach as they still won 22-13. Washington’s scoring came on five Curt Knight field goals and on an 18-yard interception return by defensive end Ron McDole. That touchdown came on one of five takeaways by the Redskins defense. 

The last time: October 19, 2014, FedEx Field—Quarterback Kirk Cousins was struggling in the first half, losing a fumble and throwing a head-scratching interception. With the Redskins trailing the 2-4 Titans 10-6, Jay Gruden decided it was time for a change and Colt McCoy came in to play QB in the second half. 

Things clicked immediately as McCoy threw a short pass to Pierre Garçon, who turned upfield and rolled in for a 70-yard touchdown. It was back and forth in the second half and the Redskins were trailing 17-16 when they got the ball on their own 20 with 3:14 to play. McCoy led a 10-play drive that consumed all of the remaining time and culminated in a 22-yard Kai Forbath field goal to win it 19-17. 

The best time: November 3, 1991, RFK Stadium—To win nine straight NFL games to start out a season, you need solid blocking, accurate passing, hard-hitting tackling, inspired play calling, crisp execution and, as was the case today, a little bit of luck. Chip Lohmiller kicked a 41-yard field goal for Washington to give the Redskins a 16-13 overtime win over Houston. Darrell Green’s interception at the Houston 33 set up the kick. All of that, however, would not have happened if not for Oiler placekicker Ian Howfield. 

After Houston tied the game on a one-yard run by Lorenzo White with 1:42 left in the game, Brian Mitchell fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Oilers prime field position. Howfield came in for a 33-yard field goal attempt with one second left. It appeared that the winning streak would end at eight. “You don’t exactly give up, but you’re not far from it,” said Andre Collins. 

The snap was perfect as was the hold, but Howfield’s kick was wide right. 

On Houston’s second offensive play of overtime, Oiler quarterback Warren Moon got bumped as he threw an out pass and Green picked it off. Three Ernest Byner runs preceded Lohmiller’s game-ending kick. 

The worst time: October 30, 1988, Astrodome—Washington entered the contest riding a three-game winning streak and appeared to be rounding into form to defend their Super Bowl title. Warren Moon threw three touchdown passes to Drew Hill, however, and the Redskins took a 41-17 whipping that wasn’t even as close as the final score would indicate.

Redskins schedule series

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