Tarik's Take: A resilient win in Chicago has Redskins in prime position
5) Big win but injuries mount
The Redskins got a huge win in Chicago but left with more injury concerns. Tight end Derek Carrier suffered a serious-looking right knee injury early and did not return. He’ll undergo an MRI on Monday. The team has already lost two tight ends to injury this season (Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen) and can ill-afford to lose another. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson, meantime, was hobbled by a left knee injury that he suffered when Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller landed on him in the third quarter. He finished the game but was in obvious discomfort. The bigger concern is likely Carrier at this point since Reed’s only healthy backup now is Je’Ron Hamm, who has played only three snaps this season and was inactive Sunday. Coach Jay Gruden will have an update Monday afternoon around 3 p.m.
4) credit where it's due
Joe Barry’s defense deserves a lot of credit for coming through in the clutch. After the Redskins took the 24-21 lead, the unit forced a pair of punts, then wouldn’t allow the Bears to get past the Redskins’ 32 on the final drive. Bashaud Breeland broke up a pass in the end zone on second down and Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan and Chris Baker dialed up a good rush on third down, forcing Jay Cutler to misfire. As a result, struggling kicker Robbie Gould had to attempt the game-tying field goal in the rain from 50 yards out. He missed, of course. One stat I found interesting: with three games left, the Redskins are 17th in points allowed per game (23.6). Last season, they finished 30th (27.4).
Jordan Reed is ridiculous. But we already knew that. What impressed me most about his effort Sunday, though, was his determination after contact. Even though his first quarter touchdown got overturned, Reed’s twisting and turning effort at the goal line effort fired up his teammates and set the tone early. In the third quarter, the third-year tight end’s scintillating 5-yard touchdown grab marked his seventh of the season, giving him the most for a Redskins’ tight end since 2007 (Chris Cooley had eight.) Reed now ranks second among all tight ends in receptions (67), fourth in touchdowns (7), fifth in first downs (39) and seventh in yards (694). Those are Pro Bowl-caliber stats.
2) Keep up the fight
Speaking of resilience, the Redskins have made a habit of bouncing back this season. Four times, they’ve faced ‘must-win’ type games. And four times, they’ve delivered (vs. Bucs, Giants, Saints and Bears.) On Sunday, the odds seemed stacked against the Redskins once again. A short week of preparation after Monday night’s get-wrenching loss at home to Matt Cassel and the Cowboys. More key injuries. A nine-game road losing streak. Yet, once again, they found a way to keep their postseason hopes alive. The question going forward is this: why does it seem the Redskins need to their season to get pushed to the brink in order to play their best football?
1) No more questions
It was a bad decision and a bad throw and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. But Kirk Cousins did exactly what good quarterbacks do when things go poorly: He quickly shook off the third quarter pick that led to the Bears’ game-tying touchdown. On the Redskins’ next possession, Cousins went 3 of 4 passing—including a perfectly placed ball to DeSean Jackson for a 29-yard gain—to put Washington in position for the go-ahead field goal. As far as I’m concerned, questions about Cousins’ mental toughness and interception issues aren’t all that relevant anymore. Quarterbacks throw interceptions. Cousins now has just three in his past seven games after throwing eight interceptions in the season’s first six contests.