Bottom line, a huge opportunity blown. A painful loss because it was so winnable and the result of a win would have been a 3-0 record and a two game lead in the NFC East.
The good, bad, and more.
1. No Touchdowns Allowed. Even though Dallas had major issues across the board offensively, the defense did a great job keeping the Cowboys out of the end zone.
2. LaRon Landry. If he can stay healthy, pro bowl.
3. Pass Protection. It wasn't bad overall against a Dallas front 7 that can really pressure. Trent Williams was solid when matched up against D. Ware.
4. Few Penalties. Just 4 last night. They've been the least penalized team in the league through the first three weeks. Also thought the face mask on D-Hall on the 3rd and 21 was questionable.
1. 3rd and 21. No excuse considering score, time, down and distance to rush 8 and leave D-Hall in man coverage with no help against Dez Bryant. Jim Haslett made the same mistake last year against Houston up 27-10 and it resulted in an Arian Foster 50-yard catch and run off a screen that turned the momentum of the game.
2. 2nd-Half Run Defense. For the 2nd week in a row, the Skins' defense gave up too many yards on the ground. Felix Jones had 94 second half yards a week after Beanie Wells did the same thing for the Cardinals.
3. Bad Hold/Blocked Field Goal. Sav Rocca botched the hold on the 2nd quarter attempt and it cost them 3 points.
4. Rex Turnovers. His first interception was bad. The fumble iced the game. He nearly was picked off another two times and lost a fumble that was called incorrectly down by contact.
1. Many were upset that they threw it too much with the lead in the 4th. In context, I didn't have a problem with Kyle's decision to stay aggressive offensively. It's obvious that they chose to be careful in the red zone against the Cowboys fast front 7. They've were much more aggressive in the first two weeks.
2. The unnecessary roughness call on Alan Ball on the Santana Moss first down catch in the 4th quarter was awful.
3. Was it my imagination or was DeMarcus Ware offsides a few times with no call. On the flip side, I thought it looked the Redskins false started a few times and got away with it.
4. Why didn't Dallas challenge the Grossman fumble on the Ware hit? The only thing that makes sense is that the refs told Garrett there was no clear recovery made by Dallas.
5. Nice challenge by Shanahan on the Landry-forced fumble in the first quarter.
6. The St.Louis game is huge but won't be easy. Win and it's a feel-good 3-1 heading into the bye. Lose and 2-2 will feel like 0-4.
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Tony Romo had no choice. He had to play, broken rib and all.
His new bride wouldn't have tolerated anything less.
"She said, `Are you kidding? You're playing. I can't have a weak husband lying around the house here,'" Romo said - smiling and wincing after leading the Dallas Cowboys to an 18-16 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday night.
Romo had a mostly forgettable night except for the fact Dallas won.
He was hurting so much he needed two pain-killing injections. His center had a tendency to snap the ball too soon or to the wrong spot. And he couldn't get into the end zone no matter what, not even with a first down on the 2-yard line.
Yet he set up Dan Bailey for six field goal tries, and the rookie made them all, including a go-ahead 40-yarder with 1:52 left.
When linebacker Anthony Spencer forced a fumble that teammate Sean Lee recovered with 28 seconds left, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett dropped to a knee and pumped his fist wildly. He had good reason to celebrate: Dallas was about to be 2-1, guaranteeing no repeat of last year's miserable 1-7 start.
The Cowboys are even tied for first place in the NFC East, along with Washington (2-1), which was seeking its first 3-0 start since 2005.
"We're better than last year - already," Dallas linebacker Bradie James said.
This was the second straight game that a Romo-Bailey tandem pulled out a victory. Against San Francisco a week ago Sunday, Bailey made a tying field goal at the end of regulation, then the winner in overtime.
Bailey's other kicks Monday night covered 41 (twice), 32, 27 and 23 yards.
"We had good snaps, good holds, great protection. I had the easy job," said Bailey, an undrafted rookie who was named the nation's top kicker in college last season at Oklahoma State. "Whenever you can string a couple of kicks together, it's a confidence booster."
Romo was hardly hit in the first half, then the Redskins got in several crushing blows starting just after halftime. That's also when the snaps became an issue. He couldn't hide his frustration with new center Phil Costa, and clearly wasn't happy with receiver Kevin Ogletree after an incompletion at the end of the drive that reached the 2. That failure forced Dallas to settle for its fifth field goal and a 16-15 deficit instead of a go-ahead touchdown.
Rob Ryan's re-energized Dallas defense got the ball back quickly, and Romo took advantage. Another bad snap left the Cowboys with a third-and-21, and Romo followed with a rollout to his right and a deep pass to Dez Bryant for a 30-yard gain. Another 15 yards were tacked on because of a facemask penalty on the beaten defender - cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who last week said he was hoping "to put my helmet on whatever's hurt" on Romo and all other wounded Cowboys.
Hall had plenty more to say after the game. In an expletive-filled interview, he questioned the eight-man front on Bryant's catch and the official's decision to flag him.
"I told the ref after that call, that might have been his worst call of the game," Hall said. "He's going to get demerit points for that call. Because that wasn't no facemask."
Romo was 22 of 36 for 255 yards. His best stat was simply lasting all four quarters.
"I want to play," Romo said. "We only get to go out and do this 16 times, 16 days out of 365 days a year. You want to be out there. You put so much effort, when you go, you go."
Romo wasn't the only Dallas player who gutted it out.
Bryant missed the previous game because of a thigh injury, yet had four catches for 63 yards. Felix Jones, who separated a shoulder against the 49ers, ran for a career-high 115 yards and caught three passes for 40 more. Jason Witten fought through a rib injury to catch six passes for 60 yards.
"It wasn't a perfect performance by any means, but enough to win the game," Garrett said.
The Dallas defense limited the Redskins to field goals on two of their first three drives, the latter reaching the Dallas 9.
Rex Grossman really only had one solid drive, a 76-yarder capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass to Tim Hightower that put Washington up 16-9. The Redskins never even crossed midfield after that, punting on three straight drives then losing the fumble.
"It feels like the waste of a week," tight end Chris Cooley said. "We're capable of winning a division game on the road. I'm disappointed with the way we finished."
Grossman was 22 of 37 for 250 yards. He was sacked three times - once by DeMarcus Ware, his NFL-leading fifth - and threw an interception.
Explaining his game-deciding fumble, Grossman said, "I was trying to make a play. I felt like I could get the ball to Santana (Moss). I obviously couldn't."
Most of the Redskins' points came from Graham Gano, who made field goals of 50, 46 and 27 yards. Another was blocked after a poor hold.
"We're going to find out what type of football team we have," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "When you lose like that it hurts. We don't have time to feel sorry for yourself."
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Fourth-and-3. Ball at the 18. Trailing by eight with 5:23 left. All three timeouts remaining.
Go for it? Or kick the field goal?
For Mike Shanahan, it was a no-brainer. The offense stayed on the field, and Rex Grossman found Santana Moss in the end zone for a touchdown. The play was a vital moment Sunday in the Washington Redskins' 22-21 comeback win over the Arizona Cardinals.
"That was basic football," the coach said. "There wasn't even a question about that."
Basic football. And percentage football. Mathematical studies have always shown that coaches should go for it on fourth down a whole lot more than they do.
But many, if not most, coaches don't play the percentages. They would kick the field goal to cut the lead to five, then rely on the defense to make a stop and postpone the needed touchdown until later. For one thing, it keeps the coach from looking bad - and maybe getting fired - for making a risky choice.
"I've always leaned to the other side, not very conservative," Shanahan said Monday. "I usually take chances. That's usually my mindset, but sometimes it all depends on the tempo of the game, what type of team you're facing, how good's your defense, how good's your running game going. A lot of ingredients will go into something like that."
It's that type of attitude that makes Shanahan so popular in the locker room. Offensive players throughout training camp kept saying how much they love the aggressiveness shown by Shanahan and his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, when it comes to calling plays and attacking the game.
If anything, that praise has grown now that the Redskins are off to a 2-0 start and alone in first place in the NFC East.
"I love this offense, man. That's one of the reasons I didn't want to go anywhere," said Moss, who opted to re-sign with the Redskins this year when he became a free agent. "It took me this long to be a part of something like this. ... I just love what Kyle does when it comes to his play-calling, and how he prepares us. He prepares us to go out there with that mentality and say ... whatever we did on those other downs, just put all that behind us and this is the down that matters."
Grossman certainly played into that mindset on the fourth-down touchdown, which came with the Redskins trailing 21-13. The first option was a simple pass to Jabar Gaffney in the right flat. Gaffney was open and would have had a short, tidy gain, enough for a first down in front of cornerback A.J. Jefferson.
"The play was designed to go to the flat," Grossman said. "And (the cornerback) just kind of settled his feet and jumped towards the flat. And I'd rather have the touchdown."
"I didn't see nothing - but the ball," Moss said. "It was one of those situations, we kind of had everybody in a bunch on that side, and it was almost like `Choose who you want to cover.' We've got so much talent out here, we've got so many weapons, guys aren't going to be able to cover one guy all day. They chose to come down on Jabar and I was open in the corner."
The 2-point conversion failed, so the score was 21-19. The Redskins still had to ask their defense to make a stop, but all they needed was a field goal instead of a touchdown when they got the ball back. Graham Gano came through with a 34-yard field goal with 1:45 to play to settle the game.
"Some people kick a field goal, some people go for it," Shanahan said. "Either way, you've got to do what you think gives you the best chance to win. I just felt at that time of the game, we needed to score a touchdown. And the percentages were with us with that down and distance."
Shanahan said he's examined the studies about fourth down percentages, but it's also important to note that cold numbers can't replicate intangibles such as emotion and momentum. When it comes time to make the call, it's usually based on good old coach's instinct.
"You go through all of them. When you're backed up, if you go for it on fourth-and-1, fourth-and-2, on your 2-yard line, on your 1-yard line, what's the percentages after three-and-out of getting a field goal," Shanahan said. "You go through all those stats, but usually it comes down to a gut feel."
Notes: Shanahan said CB Josh Wilson has a combination of lower back, head and neck injuries from Sunday's game. Asked about Wilson's chances for next week's Monday night game at Dallas, the coach said: "He was little more sore today than he was after the game, so we'll wait and see." ... Shanahan wouldn't say whether Fred Davis has surpassed Chris Cooley as the No. 1 tight end. Davis leads the team in receiving after two games with 191 yards, while Cooley didn't have a catch Sunday and is still working his way back from a knee injury. "We've got two excellent football players," Shanahan said. "Those are the problems that we want. We will play the best players. If we have four tight ends that are the best players, we won't have wide receivers out on the field." ... Fourth-round draft pick Roy Helu is the latest Redskins rookie to impress early in the season. He had 74 yards on 10 carries Sunday. "Once you've got to figure out how to teach a running back to run, then you've got the wrong running back," Shanahan said. "When you've got a guy like Helu, you don't know why guys make plays, but the great ones do, and I think Helu has given people the idea that he does have skills." ... A week after declining Victory Monday, the players accepted the day off this week. For one thing, the team has an extra day to prepare for a Monday game.
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) The Washington Redskins sit alone atop the NFC East. They are 2-0 for the first time since 2007, which just happens to be the last time they made the playoffs.
They've already matched their number of home victories from last season. They never scored more than 20 points in any of their wins in 2010; they've already done that twice in 2011.
They keep saying they're a different team in their second year under coach Mike Shanahan. After Sunday's come-from-behind, 22-21 performance against the Arizona Cardinals, it might be time to start believing them.
"You can say what you want to about the Redskins of old," said Santana Moss, who caught a touchdown pass as part of a fourth-quarter rally, "but coach Shanahan has come in here and set everybody's mind to prepare for stuff like that, to know that even when we're down and out, we can still hang in there and be what we want to be."
There were certainly times when the Redskins looked like their old selves. They dominated most of the game statistically but kept finding ways to self-destruct. They got inside Arizona's 40 on their first five possessions and had only 10 points to show for it, with a pair of interceptions by Rex Grossman, a blocked field goal and a false start by left tackle Trent Williams at the 3-yard line among the miscues.
By early in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had taken an eight-point lead. Grossman pulled it out with a 73-yard drive, capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass to Moss on fourth-and-3, and a 48-yard drive capped by Graham Gano's decisive 34-yard field goal with 1:45 to play.
Still, it wasn't until last-man-standing cornerback Byron Westbrook, on the field after injuries to three defensive backs, forced Chansi Stuckey to fumble to end the Cardinals' final drive that the fans could finally begin the chant of "We Want Dallas" ahead of next Monday's visit to the Cowboys.
"Throughout the course of the year, you are going to be put in a lot of adverse situations - and I feel like we are 1-for-1 on that," said Grossman, who completed 25 of 43 passes for 291 yards with two touchdowns and the pair of interceptions to earn his first fourth-quarter comeback win since 2007.
The Cardinals (1-1) have to feel fortunate to be at .500 considering they've allowed 932 yards in their first two games, including 455 to the Redskins. They took a 14-10 lead on Beanie Wells' 2-yard run in the third quarter and were up 21-13 after Larry Fitzgerald's 73-yard touchdown catch with 10:58 remaining in the game, but their offense held the ball for only 1:23 of the fourth quarter while Grossman methodically worked the comeback.
Asked about his team's late-game defense, coach Ken Whisenhunt replied: "When did we play good defense the whole day?"
He also noted that the Cardinals are still adjusting to two new coordinators, so it's a bit early to draw firm conclusions.
"We've been together for two games and training camp. It's really early to make those judgments," Whisenhunt said. "I think everyone in the NFL now wants to make snap judgments on a weekly basis. We changed our scheme; we knew it was going to be tough. I'm not pleased that we haven't played better and we need to work to do that. That's what we're going to do."
Arizona has lost eight straight to the Redskins and hasn't won in Washington since 1998. Happy to extend that streak was Tim Hightower, traded by the Cardinals shortly after the end of the NFL lockout. He ran for 96 yards on 20 carries and started a scuffle that netted a 15-yard roughness penalty against his old team. Rookie Roy Helu added 74 yards, part of the team's 172-yard rushing day.
Redskins tight end Fred Davis had another big game, with six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. The defense got sacks from three different linebackers.
Yet Washington won by a mere single point. Shanahan might be 2-0 with this team, but he's not short on coaching material.
"You have to be able to close the door," Shanahan said. "We didn't close the door. ... You've got to find a way to win even though you're going to make some mistakes. It's a little bit of a chess game sometimes, and we're lucky that we snuck one away from them."
Notes: Arizona was short on inside linebackers after Daryl Washington was scratched with a strained right calf and Paris Lenon played hurt after spraining his right ankle in the first half. ... Arizona QB Kevin Kolb hit 17 of 30 passes for 251 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. ... Fitzgerald's TD catch was his 66th, tying Roy Green for the Cardinals' franchise record. He also had 133 yards receiving for his 27th career 100-yard game, tying Anquan Boldin's franchise mark. ... Westbrook was needed late in the game after CB Josh Wilson injured his back in the third quarter and CB Kevin Barnes went down with cramps. S DeJon Gomes injured a hamstring, and S LaRon Landry (hamstring) didn't play for the second straight week.
It certainly wasn't pretty, but not every win is going to be a masterpiece. It's more important to win ugly sometimes, as opposed to winning pretty -- because that might give you a false sense of security.
Mike Shanahan and his staff have PLENTY to work on, hammer and correct this week, while getting ready for the Dallas Cowboys a week from tonight at Cowboys Stadium on Monday Night Football.
Here are my "Quick Snaps" reactions and analysis to the Redskins 22-21 win over Arizona at Fed Ex Field on Sunday to improve to (2-0).
**Rex Grossman certainly was a mix of good and bad. The Redskins QB had entirely a abnormally large amount of batted or tipped passes, along with two interceptions - including one as the Redskins were poised to at least walk away with three points. Grossman, could have had a few more interceptions along the way -- but got some help from the football gods. Despite some of the poor play, Grossman threw for nearly 300 yards -- and dialed up a huge 4th down touchdown throw to Santana Moss. He also hit Fred Davis in some key spots, besides the touchdown throw. Most notably, Davis caught two passes in a row to start the drive that led to the game-winning field goal.
**Graham Gano, probably -- saved Mike Shanahan and Danny Smith from bringing in some kickers for a try out this week, by hitting the go-ahead and game-winning field goal. After a missed kick last week, and a bad kickoff out-of-bounds this week, a short kickoff that set up Larry Fitzgerald's bomb touchdown, along with a blocked field goal -- Gano simply HAD to make that kick. He did, and probably survives the week without the Redskins version of 'Try Out Tuesday'.
***The Redskins linebackers were just incredible on Sunday. London Fletcher had an interception, off a deflection from Ryan Kerrigan. Fletcher put tremendous heat all day long on Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb, including on the long bomb to Fitzgerald. Brian Orakpo, playing with a ankle that was not 100 percent, made it the entire game with no problems (he said) and had a huge sack and forced fumble. Kerrigan did a good job for the most part against the run, with one stop for a loss on the opposite side of the formation. He set up Fletcher's INT, with great man trail coverage, all the way across the field. Kerrigan also had his first sack of his career. Rocky McIntosh had a sack for an 8-yard loss as well, and has looked very good in the 2011 season so far.
**Outside of the one busted coverage, DeAngelo Hall did a good enough job against Fitzgerald, flopping side to side - which is exactly what we thought they would do all week. We wrote about it in Notable, Quotable, Reasonable on Friday, and mentioned it several times on ESPN 980 throughout the week. Hall, limited the Cardinals top target to six-catches for 60 yards, outside of the touchdown. It's probably close to what most people expected, as Hall is NOT a shut-down corner.
**I will have more during the day on Monday, as I get some time to watch the game tape, including thoughts on a big contribution from Roy Helu and an improved performance by the offensive line, especially on the run-blocking side of things.
A win is a win is a win. No apologies nor regrets necessary. Sure it could have been a first-half blow out and a no-sweat game but wins come in all shapes and sizes. Since we've only had a few wins of any shape or size to cheer in recent years, applaud this one.
The good, bad, and more to add.
1. Linebackers. Orakpo, Kerrigan, Fletcher, McIntosh, and every other backer that played made the difference on a defense that was banged up in the secondary. Orakpo and Kerrigan are becoming impossible to handle with just one o-lineman unless that lineman is top-flight. In addition to the constant pass pressure provided by both, Kerrigan knocks down passes like it's his business.
2. Running Game. What a difference a week makes. Last week, 2.8 yards per rush. This week, 4.9 per. The o-line did a great job and both Hightower and Helu ran well. I'm starting to wonder if Helu isn't a better runner than Hightower. He's got better vision, more explosiveness, and can catch it. Hightower probably gives the Shanahans more comfort on third-down when pass pro is required.
3. Brandon Banks. 18.3 yds per punt return. 26.3 on kickoff returns. He'll score at least twice this year if he stays healthy.
4. "Good Rex". When they had to have it, he delivered. After falling behind 21-13 with 10:58 left, Rex went 9-14 for 77 yards on two key scoring drives to essentially win the game. His 4th and 3 touchdown pass to Moss was a monster play in the game. He also did a great job knocking down two of his deflected passes that could've been intercepted.
5. Fred Davis. He's always open, he's a huge target, and he's a threat after he catches it. Wow, what a player he's developing in to.
6. Sav Rocca. Three punts, two inside the 20. He's been an unsung hero in both wins.
1. "Bad Rex". Two first half picks could've been three or four. He had the first deep ball into coverage inside the five that was a near-pick. He had the throw to Gaffney in the end zone that drew the penalty but the truth is, it was a bad throw. His 2nd interception wasn't his fault. Armstrong was held before the ball ever got there and it was missed by the officials. He also underthrew Fred Davis on what could've been a touchdown instead of a 40-yd completion. All in all, he made several typical "bad Rex" plays. It wasn't a smooth day for sure and his first interception in the red zone was an awful decision.
2. Run Defense in the 2nd Half. Beanie Wells nearly ran for 100 yards in the half. He's a good back and the Skins were dealing with some injuries but still, too many rushing yards allowed in the 2nd half.
1. Rex has so many passes batted down because he's short. Some will for sure get picked this year. The throw to Armstrong just before the 2-minute warning was deflected and could've been picked to end the game. His 3rd and 4 pass that followed was batted up in the air before Rex himself knocked it down to save the day.
2. This just in. Rex won't make many plays when the designed play breaks down. He's just so immobile.
3. I love the way Rex isn't affected by bad plays. He has the typical pro-athlete short memory and it benefits him.
4. Gano's blocked field goal looked low coming out. His 2nd half kickoff that went out of bounds could have hurt more.
5. I'm surprised that Shanahan opted to go for 4th and 3 down 21-13. He said the decision was "basic football" strategy. Many coaches would differ. With 3 timeouts left and likely needing two scores, the field goal is usually the choice. I say likely two scores because 2-pt conversions come with less than 40% success rates. They scored on the play but they still needed the ball back after missing the 2-pt conversion. Sure, they only needed a field goal at that point but if they missed the 4th and 3, their next possession would have had to generate a touchdown with a successful 2-pt conversion. I'm interested to know what he would have done had it been 4th and long.
6. Great play by Westbrook on the fumble to ice the game. Great job by the replay booth to overturn the call on the field.
7. Cooley could have been called for holding on the Helu run right before the 2-min warning. It would have pushed them out of field goal range for the time being.
8. Arizona's 10 penalties helped.
9. Down 21-13, was the Gaffney catch on 3rd and 10 a catch? Fox never showed a replay but the Cardinals were arguing that it wasn't a catch.
10. The Redskins have run 143 offensive plays in two games with 50 first downs.
This is a loose notes version of what I saw after watching the tape back and just about every play of the first half and (most of) the 2nd half -- from the Redskins win over the Steelers. For the sake of brevity, I use abbreviations such as LCB (Left Corner Back) or DPI (Defensive Pass Interference). Also may be some spelling and wording issues. Again, it's a rough notes version.
-Rocky McIntosh turned sideways, doesnt' attack on 4 yard run by Mendenhall - wrap by London. -Josh Wilson off-man, D-Hall man @ LCB gets beaten on curl route for 19 yards. -Kerrigan gets underneath Willie Colon but late on a rush -- London blows up Mendenhall in space on a dump screen -Kerrigan gets walled off by Colon, overthrow by Ben/Wallace who beat Josh Wilson off line easily with safety help (Chris Horton confused and way late) Horton read it but was out of position despite good jump. - Nickel on 3rd and 7 - Kevin Barnes with inside right slot blitz for sack -9 plus London w/ good pass rush.
-1st Down, I-Back PA fake from 1-yard line, 2 WR form to Santana. Good combo blocking by JB/CC & Kory/TW - TH off LT for 4 yard gain, Will Montgomery gets pushed back on blitz and loses footing, but got enough to not blow up play. Kory w/ nice 2nd level space block. - Boot roll right to Fred D. + 11 -- Chris Chester gets beat on inside stunt move but rides rusher down from side at point of attack on nice Hightower run wide left. - Hightower w/ nice 1-cut run off RT (mixing) sides. Fred, Will, JB good job leading way. - Lichtensteiger gets bowled over on inside rush - on screen left for Hightower. - Royster first run off right -- while FB Young goes left. Don't know if that was plan or if ER read wrong. -DY with nice backside hot dump from Rex on play action to left for 18 yard gain to 10. timeout # 1 -Hightower stretch wide left for a loss, as Fred Davis allows penetration at POA - Trent downfield mauling -INC on screen - left, Hightower gets picked in traffic because Hampton blows past Montgomery. -3rd and Goal, Rex dumps quick - almost hot read look to Moss on criss cross stop (Tana/Gaff) w/ little bit of pressure. ------ Shayne Graham badly misses 29 yard FGA -- Hold, Snap looked OK - Snap a touch high.
--Antonio Brown on quick WR screen - Josh Wilson misses tackle at first POA - for 4 yard gain. -Jarvis Jenkins a little high on run for 1st down right at him. -- Redman with toss towards right but Jenkins penetrates & wins behind line w/ Bowen & Orakpo flowing and picking from R-L . -- Kerrigan w/ tackle after London and Ryan get pinned inside & Orakpo missed tackle in backfield. -- Overthrow of Mike Wallace deep who had beat D-Hall. DeAngelo jawing with Pouncey & sidelines. -- 3rd Down Nickel -- Bowen down and loop stunts to blow up Byron for 10 yard loss. -- Rob Jackson with good blocking and effort on punt block for Banks. DY?? flies into picture with huge effort.
-Rex audibles to run left to Hightower for 5 yard gain - nice job. - Rex to Gaffney for 12 yard gain, Trent gave up inside leverage but anchored good enough to seal. - Hightwer minus 1 - as Trent and Kory get to 2nd level blocks but Keisel knifes off his block to blow up play. - Davis with feisty edge block for Tim Hightower run at POA. --3rd Down short completion to Santana for 4 yard gain, good blocking (Looked like Rex settled underneath) to set up 4th and 1.5. -- 4th down completion to AAA - good cut block on backside by Trent. Chester handles nice bull rush. --1st Down - Rex on PA boot to left w/ bomb off finger tips of Donte' Stallworth. Love play calling!! -- 3rd and 11 - Nice Wall of protection, Hightower picks up big pressure to right.. Rex fires bullet to Fred Davis in hands but crunched at catch for incompletion at 11. Lawrence Timmons hurt. Nice hit and breakup by Lundy. - 4th Punt by Rocca who kicks it inside his own 50- could have been downed at goalline. (34, 45, 56, 97, 54, 37,18, 36, 6, 57)
--Barry Cofield gets good leverage underneath, shedding tackler and then makes backside tackle. -- Mewelde Moore with scamper to right, Reed Doughty misses tackle in backfield, but D-Hall knifes in for tackle -- Kerrigan gets slightly low - penetrates B Gap and blows up run on 3rd-and-1 w/help from Cofield.****
-- 1st down, play action from 18 -- Santana 4th catch (no slot) on pivot route. 16 yard gain. --1st down, Gaffney quick out near sideline. Good pocket, but Rex quick release. -- Pretty good seal by Kory, Fred and Trent 2nd level but flow of Steelers D brings Hightower down to force 3rd and 3. --5 man rush on 3rd - Rex on quick hitch comeback for Gaffney for 1st down. Perfect spot, execution ** --1st and 10 ** Kyle another nice play call out of run look (I-Back) 2 WR, play action set to Austin for 38 yard gain on crossing route. Kory does good recovery block. (Fred Davis with good lead block on Hightower run -- Larry Foote knocks down a late pass near goal line from Rex. -- Santana TD on 3rd and 4, from right slot after motion from left to right. Fred Davis route cleared out underneath to buy Santana some room for cross. Low Snap from Will, but great job by Rex to pick it up and still make read. (7-0)
-- Antonio Brown nice reception in between and past Josh Wilson -- and over Chris Horton in zone ...Horton had back completely turned and had overall an awful night. -- Leftwich complete to Brown at 41 + - Carriker with personal foul (club to head) -- 1st penalty of game. -- Barnes nice run stop at 23. -- Isaac Redmond with twisting TD run, that Chris Horton blows tackle in back field on, plus Rocky McIntosh gets twisted and misses tackle. Josh Wilson also got manhandled up field by block.
-- Banks long kickoff return from deep in end zone, Lorenzo and Sellers did tag wall block but seperate. Banks got help from Lorenzo, Riley, Logan & deked out kicker. -- Kyle dials long distance for 2nd time after big plays/momentum changers. 1. Long INC off fingertips of Donte' Stallworth after 4th down conversion to AAA. 2. After Banks long KO return, overthrow INC for Moss.
-- Josh Wilson beaten in coverage -- commites big D.P.I. penalty. -- Reggie Jones at LCB gets beat in coverage for 15 yard sideline gain. --On final Steelers drive of half...Keyaron Fox had a nice backside tackle in run support. Jarvis Jenkins had a nice bull rush from the RDE spot on a completion. Ryan Kerrigan had a nice rush/pressure of Leftwich.
-- Redskins final drive of half ..Armstrong 2 x (17, 9) to 40 -- Gaffney quick hitch. Moss as well. Last timeout used, before Santana completion on "TD route of cross post" to 29. Spike, to kill clock. Shayne way wide right on 49 FG.
Partial 2nd Half Notes (Storm knocked out recording for most of 3rd Qtr.)
**Aldrick Robinson fumbles punt inside 10 yard line. **Royster at 12:10 off RT, tripped up. **Clemens on 3rd Down, from own end zone with a sideline throw, nice diving low catch by Stallworth for 12. **Stallworth 16 yard gain, goes up for it..Good blocking by Mo Hurt & Keiland.
**Clemens nice boot left completion to Logan Paulsen to start 4th quarter. **Washington takes timeout # 1 at 12:40, with Kellen. **Hankerson off balance on turn-around in red zone. Kind of stabs at it, thrown behind him. Not totally his fault. **Hankerson easy drop on wide open crossing route, right through hands at waist. **Terrence Austin nice 3rd and 4, inside slant with great body shield. **Clemens spikes ball at Royster's feet on 3rd Down under heavy pressure, to save FGA for Gano. **Dijon Gomes on 3rd and 8 on left side slot blitz for sack. **Hankerson with catch but rolls on arm and gets banged up? **Markus White and Horatio Blades with near INT on low pass, bobbled up in air and INC. **Terrence Austin kind of muffs punt, but recovers...breaks ankle tackles and gains 19 yards.
**Roy Helu with a big + 18 hit off LT, LG Xavier Fulton does nice job with effort block. **Helu + 3 and + 5 off RT, nice job by Willie Smith. **Helu dodges tackle in backfield, as Willie Smith? gets pushed back big time. **Helu + 4 and + 1 for 27th Redskins first down. **Sellers false start penalty on 3rd and 5 (killer) to 3rd and 10. **Helu blown up for 3rd Down loss, way too conservative of a call. **Gano 45 yard FG, (3-3).
**Kevin Barnes comes back from being banged up -- with effort pass defense and then near INT diving to ground on bad throw. **Barnes comes free on near sack - runs out of control past Dixon who spins and rushes, then completes a 29 yard pass while being blasted by Marcus White? **3rd and 10- Redskins defense jumping all over and showing different looks. Markus White blows thru O-Line but delay of game whistle blown late for 5-yard penalty on Steelers. ****Kevin Barnes with another pass breakup.
Seth in Rockville sent me the following Facebook message much earlier this morning at 2:12 a.m.---"Kevin, take a bow, I don't need any more evidence that Shanahan has this organization on the right track. That was damn impressive."
My response to Seth was as follows--"Seth, one word for you, Osaka!"
"Damn impressive" is a matter of perspective. If you believe the preseason is telling in anyway, it was indeed damn impressive. If you believe like I do that preseason results mean very little, then wait to describe a win as "damn impressive" until the regular season.
With all that said, here's the Skins-Steelers shakedown from last night....the good, bad, and more.
1. The Offense---The offense was in sync from the start. Rex was obviously sharp.Sure it's preseason and they were facing Steeler back-ups with no game-planning but anytime you produce 452 yards with few penalties, no sacks, and no turnovers without a game plan yourself, yoyou're in sync. The O-line looked more athletic. Hightower runs hard. Moss is a pro. Davis is going to be a huge factor this year. Even Kellen Clemens was solid after 10 days in the system. I wouldn't be surprised if Clemens pushes Beck for the #2 before all is said and done.
2. More Talent on Defense---It was obvious last night that the front 7 on defense is much more talented than it was last year. Bowen, Jenkins, and Cofield are major upgrades. Kerrigan wasn't totally comfortable but his strength and motor were obvious.
3. Brandon Banks---He showed you again last night why any talk of him getting cut must stop. The Redskins need game-breakers; he's the best one they have.
4. Graham Gano---3 for 3 on field goals and the new 35-yd kickoff rule means he could easily lead the league in touchbacks.
5. London Fletcher---I'm just going to keep him in this column for the season.
1. Shayne Graham---he's done.
2. Drops---Davis in the first half, Hankerson in the 2nd.
3. Run Stop D---The starting defense gave up some huge chunks on the ground.
4. Corners---Hall and Wilson struggled in coverage. Some of that is the vanilla preseason scheme but they better get a consistent pass rush this year or they'll give up yards in the air. Hall is an average cover corner; Wilson is better but not Rogers. On a positive note, Hall will tackle now more than he used to. It started last year and it looks like it will continue this year.
1. Osaka---the definition of "preseason headfake" is Osaka. Osaka for those to new to the room was Steve Spurrier's first preseason game in 2002. They lit up the 49ers in Japan to the tune of 38-7. Spurrier immediately came to the conclusion that his stuff worked in the NFL. It didn't. Rex and the offense looked good last night but they were playing the August Steelers not the Autumn Steelers. However, don't dismiss how fluid and cohesive the offense looked. This was exactly what Mike and Kyle wanted it to look like last year and believed it would have looked like if McNabb had bought in.
2. I wish Redskin pass catchers wouldn't celebrate 8-yd receptions as if they were playoff winning plays. Ball spinning and dancing should wait until something is won.
3. Kyle Shanahan has been villified along with his father. I think Redskin fans will end up believing at some point that Kyle is as valuable as his father. He knows what he's doing.
4. Cooley injury revealed to be more of a concern after the game. They need Cooley and Landry. Both of those injuries are major storylines the rest of training camp. Landry is the team's best player and Cooley is in the top 5-7. They need both.
1. Santana Moss deal---love it. Good value deal. Let's hope he can play primarily in the slot.
2. McNabb trade--the deal with the Eagles is officially a bust. Andy Reid fleeced Shanahan/Allen on the deal. Why did he deal him within the division? Because he knew McNabb had little left. As far as the deal with Vikings....good job salvaging something from a bad situation. To those that advocated releasing McNabb 6 months ago because you were convinced it was the "right" thing to do, you were wrong. The right thing was to wait until you could get something, anything in return. Personally, I would have waited a bit longer and rooted for serious QB injuries on other teams in preseason to create more demand for Donovan. But they were ready to take two 6ths and move on, fine.
3. Barry Cofield--another productive/durable young player added to the mix. Question for me is whether or not at 305 he's big enough for full-time nose. I wonder if the plan is for him to play both NT and DE. He was nose in college at Northwestern, DT in a 4-3 in NY.
4. Kellen Clemons/Donte Stallworth/Jabar Gaffney-- put all three of these additions in the low risk/high reward category. Unlike their predecessor Cerrato, the Skins want to see before they spend. Roster limits are up to 90 for preseason. The Skins need bodies to compete with their other bodies. No guarantee any of these three make the final roster. Jeremy Jarmon is gone in the Gaffney deal, he was a tough fit for the 3-4.
5. No Santonio Holmes--I'm thrilled they didn't overspend for him. He's not worth it.
6. What's next? a) Another DE/maybe Cullen Jenkins although he's a durability risk and he's older b) cornerback/are they really going with Barnes and/or Buchananon on the other side of Hall? c) punter/look for Brad Maynard to be here soon. d) OL/some of the additions here may come after the official Thurs/4pm waiver wire is activated. Jamall Brown is a priority. They need him here. Tons of possibilities and I expect no less than 3 O-linemen to be added by end of week.
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) The Washington Redskins welcomed old players back Tuesday and reached out to some new ones, the start of a frenetic week for a last-place team trying to rebuild itself in a compressed timeframe.
Yet, in one sense, nothing changed during the 4 1/2-month lockout. Marquee disappointments-turned-distractions Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth were still on the roster - still a pair of simmering, tiresome issues that needed to be resolved.
"Albert, McNabb, you name it, we need to start winning ballgames right here," Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo said, "and forget about all the drama that we go through each and every year."
Orakpo was among several players who walked in the front door at Redskins Park shortly before the 10 a.m. start time decreed for the reopening of NFL business following the lockout.
Quarterback John Beck and tight end Chris Cooley weren't far behind, and soon a group of players were on the practice field, going through some basic conditioning drills. More players arrived throughout the day to meet with coaches and get reacquainted with the play book.
Neither McNabb nor Haynesworth was among the early arrivals, hardly a surprise given the lingering acrimony from last season. McNabb was benched twice by coach Mike Shanahan and demoted to third-string for the final three games, while Haynesworth feuded often with the coach and was suspended for the final four games.
The lockout meant Shanahan couldn't trade or release either player until this week. Now, with time running short, the Redskins had little leverage to strike a deal because other teams know the team has wanted to be rid of both. McNabb and Haynesworth will be required to report when training camp opens Thursday if they're still part of the team, an awkward and potentially divisive reunion for an organization trying to move forward.
"With Donovan, I don't know what's going to happen with that situation," Beck said. "There's no telling. I'm sure they have a plan."
Even if Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen were willing to divulge the plan, they were too busy to spend any time talking about it. They were working the phones to start the process of signing draft picks and undrafted rookies. Tuesday was also the day that teams could begin negotiating with unrestricted free agents, although those players can't be formally sign until Friday afternoon.
Santana Moss was the first of the Redskins own free agents to return to the fold, agreeing to a three-year, $15 million deal that includes a $5 million signing bonus, according to ESPN. The 32-year-old receiver caught 93 passes last season for 1,115 yards and six touchdowns.
The Redskins' other free agents include Rex Grossman, Carlos Rogers and Rocky McIntosh. The team needs to address most positions on both sides of the ball, with right tackle, running back, receiver, defensive line, linebacker, cornerback and quarterback all potential departments to visit when a 6-10 team makes a trip to the free agent store.
"With this whole free agency opening up, it's going to be crazy," Beck said. "Our team's going to look different. I don't think it's a secret that we're going to be bringing guys in to compete. I know my position, there's going to be guys coming in. Could be one, could be two, you just never know. It's all about putting together the best team you can."
Beck will face scrutiny like never before, having made the climb from obscure backup to co-favorite for the starting quarterback job despite the fact he hasn't taken a snap in a regular season game since he was a rookie in 2007.
Shanahan effusively praised Beck after signing him a year ago, and Beck was proactive during the lockout - arranging throwing sessions with receivers and teaching the play book to the rookies during the player-organized minicamps.
"He's been basically showing countless effort to be out there and do the work," Armstrong said. "He's flown in from California time and time again to throw routes. I almost had to ignore his phone calls and text messages. Always he wants to throw."
Beck said he didn't know many details of the lockout-ending agreement because he doesn't have cable television in his house, but he knew enough to make a beeline for Redskins Park on Monday soon after the deal was announced. He wasn't allowed in because the security guard didn't recognize him. Plus, he was a day early.
The Redskins are expected to re-sign Grossman to compete with Beck in what promises to be the No. 1 story of camp - assuming McNabb and Haynesworth have moved on.
"There's going to be a lot of questions about who's going to be in that role," center Casey Rabach said. "Obviously the leader of the team, the leader of the offense. I think John Beck has definitely stepped up in his leadership role this offseason. It'll be interesting to see who will be our starting quarterback."
Players will take physicals Thursday, with the first practice set for Friday. With no offseason program as a foundation, the new players are going to face a steep learning curve.
"It'll be difficult because they haven't been in a meeting with (offensive coordinator) Kyle Shanahan," Armstrong said. "Sometimes he speaks extremely fast, and you're left with your head spinning."
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP