Nov 27, 2005, 11:03 PM EDT
You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
This was about as down a locker room as I’ve seen. While the voices are saying that the losses don’t have a cumulative effect, the eyes and the tone of voice say something different. The defensive players are wondering if they’ll ever be able to make the play that will win it at the end. The offensive players, while they have been rather scarce in the locker room the past few weeks, are looking for the answers that will let them score enough so that it won’t come down to a couple of plays at the end. Joe Gibbs is trying, trying to keep things positive but that’s a mounting challenge as the one agonizing loss after another piles up.
Both players and coaches bristle at the suggestion that they are playing not to lose the game rather than to win it, but that seems to be the case here. They seem to lose all of their aggressiveness with the game on the line and hope that they can hang on rather than going out and taking it game. This manifests itself both in the play calling and on the way the team is playing. The problems in close games will continue unless this changes.
That particular goal post where Keading missed the field goal on the Chargers’ opening drive has been lucky for the Redskins. It’s the one to the right on your TV screens. Josh Brown smacked the potential game-winner for Seattle off of the left upright there and Sebastian Janakowski was wide right last week. We’ll have to investigate to see if there are any doors that can be opened on that end.
Can you do that? Can you actually tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage? Twice in three plays? The Redskins blitz worked on that series. The blitzers were not seeking out blockers, they were finding the opposing quarterback.
Already, Jimmy Farris has had more of an impact this week than Taylor Jacobs did last week with an 18-yard reception for a first down. He stayed with his pattern, coming from all the way across the field as Brunell had plenty of time to pick him out. That sets up a field goal and the Redskins have a 3-0 lead. John Hall is now nine for nine on field goal attempts this year.
Antonio Brown has now executed exactly what is wanted out of him three times—he has held on to the ball on all three returns. If he continues to do that, he will remain employed.
That’s two trick plays on the Redskins’ end of the field by San Diego now with the reverse to Parker following the halfback pass attempt to Brees. This one results in a score at the referees gave Tomlinson as long as he needed to bull his way over the goal line. The concept of forward progress being stopped seems to vanish near the goal line. Not starting to complain about the call, mind you, it always works that way.
Apologies to Taylor Jacobs for the previous slight. He managed to work his way wide open to get a key reception in the Redskins’ first TD drive. Actually, no apology until he does that a few more times.
Santana Moss goes into the end zone for the first time since the San Francisco game and the Redskins are showing some fight as they answer the Chargers score to recapture the lead.
Brees is having all of his passing success on quick outs. They need to jump those routes and they’ll get a quick six. An alternative to that is to bat it away, as the much-missed Cornelius Griffin did to kill a drive.
We have a quick-moving first half here. The Redskins have outplayed the Chargers by a slim margin, pretty much what’s reflected on the scoreboard. They are hanging tough with the favored team from San Diego, up 10-7 at the half.
Gibbs is playing this one very close to the vest, throwing short passes after getting a holding call to make it first and 20. The Chargers have a pretty good offense to play that way it seems to me, but Gibbs is showing confidence in his defense.
LaVar Arrington needs to make that interception. The replay was closer than it appeared at first glance. I’ve seen less control be called a catch, but it was a good call. Er, actually, bad call, good reversal on replay.
OK, that’s twice for Jacobs now. Good job finding the first down marker and stopping to catch Brunell’s pass to convert a big third and twelve.
Good for Rock Cartwright! Untouched 13 yards, a good, decisive cut into a large hole opened up by the left side of the line. The Redskins have a working margin and have the momentum. The next 10 minutes of play will be key. They need to keep the San Diego offense shut down as they have for all but one drive.
Brees simply isn’t sharp today. He’s missing open receivers all over the field and when he’s hitting them they are dropping the ball.
He was sharp on that third and 12 pass to Parker for a huge conversion. The Redskins need to hang on here for dear life and keep them down.
Here’s another third and long for the Redskins. A sack would be most helpful for the Redskins.
Nope, to Parker again. Third and twelve and then third and 14. That sack thing we learned about earlier seems to have disappeared.
Fourth quarter and Overtime
The lucky goal post didn’t do its job that time as Keading puts one through just inside that left post of the set up uprights on the right. That pulls the Chargers within a touchdown at 17-10.
Third time is a charm as the Redskins finally an interception the third time a defender has had both hands on the ball. It was Carlos Rogers who got this one, killing a promising Charger drive and giving Washington another chance to try to kill some time off of the clock. Another non-sharp pass by Brees there after hitting a few good ones in a row.
Gibbs has not abandoned the run, keeping it with Portis on the ground. However, Brunell has to throw it away on third and two and the Redskins punt. Not a superb effort by Frost with a 33-yard boot when he had the whole field to work with, although there was no return. Still, the Chargers have the ball five yards shy of midfield with just under 10 minutes to play.
With 8:03 to play, the Redskins are a few first downs away from salting this one away. If they go three and out again, it will be asking too much of the defense to stop the Chargers yet again after almost no rest.
There’s one of the first downs by mere inches. Portis did not get a favorable spot, but it was it was just good enough.
Robert Royal has now dropped three passes, the last of which cost the Redskins the second first down that they needed. Jacobs bails him out with his third catch for a first down of the day. Official apology to Jacobs now issued for the first-quarter comment. He has played well today.
One more defensive stand should do it. It’s not off to a good start, though, as Brees goes to Parker for 22 yards to get into Redskins territory followed by an offside penalty on Chris Clemons. Need to tighten up in a hurry.
The zebras are picking a hell of a time to tighten up on illegal contact on this drive. That’s two, one accepted, in the past four plays called on Washington.
Well, it was a matter of time until Tomlinson got it untracked. The Redskins defense has just been on the field for too long.
OK, it’s time for the Redskins to put together a drive for the first time since the third quarter. They need about 50 yards or so for a good shot at a Hall field goal.
Three three and outs and a short drive with a couple of first downs has been the sum total of the Redskins’ offensive output since Cartwright’s touchdown. Now San Diego has the ball with a shot at a game-winner. The defense needs to reach deep and come up with a turnover or a quick three and out. You don’t want this one to come down to the overtime coin flip.
They got it courtesy of a tipped pass hauled down by Springs. It would be good to pick up a first down or two to make it closer for Hall, but they are within his range now.
Not any more after Rabach holds to push them out of range. Bad play by Rabach, that’s the last thing you want to do in that situation. Now it’s third and 14 with a 52-yard attempt on Hall’s plate if they don’t gain anything.
Interception by Harris on the final play of regulation to go to overtime for the second time of the year here at FedEx Field. The coin toss will be key here, and the Chargers get it.
One play to Gates, his first significant reception of the day is good for 24 yards. The Redskins can’t give another inch.
LT for the touchdown to end it.
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