"If I could see it now, if I could see every play that was going to fail before it failed, I wouldn't call it."—coach Jim Zorn, after repeated failure in the Red Zone, in last Sunday's 9-7 win over St. Louis.
Amidst fans' boos right up to—and past—the final whistle, the Washington Redskins earned their first win of the 2009 season, barely beating the St. Louis Rams 9-7, before a rambunctious and unsatisfied crowd of 87,780 at FedEx Field.
Shaun Suisham was the hero of the day for Washington. He kicked field goals of 21, 28 and 23 yards, leading the home team to victory over a Rams squad that lost their opener 28-0 the previous week.
Several players noticed—and commented—on the vocal displeasure exhibited by the Skins faithful.
"I understand that they want us to beat the Rams by 40," said Cooley, who led the Redskins with seven catches for 83 yards. "But we still won, and if we continue to win games, that's great. The booing was unnecessary."
Cooley and the rest of the Redskins players may not like the booing, but after a decade of not hosting a playoff game and missing out on the playoffs altogether last season, there may be more negativity in the future should the team not right the ship this weekend in Detroit.
St. Louis almost pulled off the upset late in the game. QB Marc Bulger completed a pass to WR Donnie Avery on third down deep in Redskins territory, but safety Chris Horton knocked the ball loose, stopping the drive.
The game was eerily reminiscent of the Rams' 19-17 upset win at Fed Ex last season, one of just two all season for St. Louis.
Washington spent a good portion of the day shooting itself in the foot. WR Devin Thomas and FB Mike Sellars both dropped potential touchdown passes, Santana Moss (three catches for 35 yards) coughed up a fumble, and rookie Brian Orakpo's roughing the passer penalty negated a fumble recovery.
"It can be just one or two plays in a game to make it look a whole lot different," Campbell said. "You catch two passes in the endzone and you're up 14-0, but that's just the way it is sometimes in this game."
The Skins had several sustained drives and controlled much of the play between the 20s, but just did not find the recipe for a touchdown.
"I have got to look at this thing very hard because it is my responsibility," Washington coach Jim Zorn said. "I can wave all kinds of magic wands, but I have to come up with the right play."
QB Jason Campbell finished 23-of-35 for 242 yards, and Clinton Portis carried 19 times for 79 yards.
The win is huge, coming off the loss opening day against New York, but Zorn has to find a way for his team to be more efficient in the redzone.
Washington outgained St. Louis 362 to 243 and had scoring drives of 83, 64 and 74 yards, plus another long drive that ended with the Skins turning the ball over on downs deep in Rams territory.
But failed gadget plays (halfback option on third down after two runs?), penalties, and poor execution resigned the Redskins to kick field goals and fill out Suisham's resume.
Jason Campbell. He controlled the ball, moved the chains, didn't turn it over, and hit the receivers where he needed.
He can't catch it as well. Players have to make plays, and if Thomas and/or Sellars come up with a play when called upon, we're probably not wringing our hands over the Detroit Lions this week.
The Red Zone offense and play calling. A third down halfback pass in the Red Zone is perfectly acceptable, but you should use it when the other team is expecting run, not on third down after two failed runs. Another 4th-and-1 rushing attempt was quashed by a missed assignment.
If Zorn can't straighten the Red Zone problems out, it will be a long season for the Burgundy and Gold.
Inactive reserve linebacker Robert Henson. After the game, he posted to this Twitter account that the fans that booed were "dim-wits" that "work 9-to-5 at McDonald's".
He received a tremendous backlash and has since apologized, but the young player, who hasn't even taken a snap in a game to this point, should gain some perspective from this incidence. Players often feel isolated with the fans, and that's due to a plethora of reasons.
But c'mon, man. Calling your fans "dim-wits"? Yikes!
Sunday, Sept. 27 at 1:00 PM against the winless in 19 games Detroit Lions from Ford Field. Does the streak end here?
G Randy Thomas tore his right triceps and is lost for the season. His position will be filled by Will Montgomery. Montgomery had a holding penalty on the failed halfback option play that would have negated the play, had Portis connected. The Redskins signed RB/KR Anthony Alridge to take Thomas' place on the roster.