"Now that's what I'm talking about!"
This had to be the collective call of every Redskins fan there ever was, as the Washington Redskins not only won in overtime against the Tennessee Titans, but did it with their most complete offensive game since week 2. With injuries in all three faces (offense, defense and special teams), they showed fight and fired through all sorts of adversity.
The Redskins needed a win after getting humiliated on Monday Night Football last week. The funniest part of it all is that no one seems to notice the Redskins won in overtime, as controversy broke out amongst the Titans after the game.
Oh well, that's fine. I like the Redskins flying under the radar. This was the gutsiest win of the season, and it made me proud to a Redskins fan, after I was ready to turn to the dark side and become a Ravens fan. (Ask Josh McCain, I told him as much.)
So let's take a look at what we learned in Week 11 for the Washington Redskins.
Maybe the Redskins felt like they needed a change of pace after getting humiliated on Monday Night. Forgoing their normal burgundy bottoms for the gold pants, the Washington Redskins looked—and played—like a new team.
Some people put too much stock in new uniforms, and we all know what happened when the Redskins tried to go all burgundy last season. But this uniform just...worked.
The burgundy helmets, white jerseys,gold pants and old school socks just meshed and seemed fresh and clean after the Monday Night Massacre.
I hope that we see these uniforms in some more away games, because they looked AWESOME and popped off the screen, looking every bit as classic and awesome as the regular burgundy and gold combo.
Here's to Bruce Allen for bringing this one back.
I was happy when I heard that the Redskins were going into the game with three running backs active. I said I was going to scream if they didn't, but they did.
And then, as a part of a game that might as well be "The Body Bag Game 2", Chad Simpson hurts himself in pre-game warm-ups.
Clinton Portis looked good and revitalized, and had five carries for 32 yards and a reception for 14 yards...and then he reaggrevated his groin injury and left the game as well.
And once again, it fell on the undrafted rookie from LSU to carry a bulk of the team's work load. And boy, did Keiland take advantage.
Keiland Williams went for 23 carries and 68 yards against a normally stout Tennessee run defense, and had six catches out of the backfield for 27 yards. He's averaging four yards per rush and 5.8 yards after the catch, which is certainly enough to get either a first down, or close to it.
Williams has made the most of his playing time, even though he wasn't the starter coming into the game. Of course, this raises the question: is it the player, or the system? Mike Shanahan has been notorious for plugging any back into his Zone Blocking Scheme and turning them into 1,000 yard rushers.
Whatever it is, it's nice to know that Keiland came come in and contribute to the game when he is more or less the only option available.
(Side Note: I love Mike Sellers, but let's never run that fullback draw on the goal line again.)
Coming into the game, I already was worried that Artis Hicks was out of the game with an injury. This offensive line is porous enough; losing a starter seemed like another death knell.
And then, Derrick Dockery goes down. And then Casey Rabach goes down. And I thought that was going to be it.
But it wasn't.
The Redskins accidentally stumbled into an offensive line that seems to kind of work. Will Montgomery came in to play center, and Donovan McNabb heaped compliments on what a good job he did. Stephon Heyer, who has struggled at tackle all season, came in and played right guard. Kory Lichensteiger played left guard, and Trent Williams and Jammal Brown held it down as the tackles.
...The offensive line never looked better.
It was truly bizarre seeing how well the offensive line played, because they shouldn't have. Montgomery hasn't seen a snap all season. Heyer has played tackle most of his adult life. Kory is supposed to be groomed to be a center. Jammal Brown seemingly gets hurt in every game.
But they were nearly flawless. They opened up holes. Montgomery looked better than Rabach has all season, and Rabach is supposed to be a team captain. Heyer played like a man possessed. Trent Williams and Jammal Brown were barely even harrassed.
A makeshift line with no experience working together looked better in it's time together than the whole damned line has all season.
I salute you, o-line. You finally earned your paycheck this week.
Seriously, this uniform looks awesome.
With the o-line actually performing well, we finally got to see Donovan McNabb be Donovan McNabb.
He was accurate with his throws. He avoided contact. He found the open guy all but once, really; Joey Galloway came free early on the play, and Chris Cooley was open in the flat, but McNabb went all Favretastic on the team and threw a redzone INT.
But, like the o-line, this was the sharpest McNabb has looked all season. McNabb went 30-50 for 376 yards and one touchdown. He converted critical third downs, and showed all the marks of a veteran quarterback.
It just shows how much trust Donovan had in the makeshift line, that he not only had time to throw, but also trusted them not to force a false start during the game. Three times, Donovan drew the Tennessee Titans off sides using his cadence.
And suffice it to say, Donovan McNabb showed he had the know how and cardiovascular endurance to run the two-minute offense, connecting with Cooley several times, and standing in there and taking a shot from the Tennessee defense that forced a penalty.
If Vince Young hadn't gotten benched, you'd be seeing a lot more said about how well Donovan did today. He wasn't flawless, and there's still a ways to go. But Donovan proved he is worth the money we spent on him in this game, and I can't be mad at that.
DeAngelo Hall got burnt all night versus Philly, but in this game, he held Randy Moss catchless for the entire game. The only catch Moss hauled in was off a blantantly illegal pushoff for a touchdown, with—you guessed it, DeAngelo Hall on the coverage.
D-Hall needed to come up with a big game, and he did. He had two defensed passes that could've easily been picked in. He also toughed it out through an apparent rib injury received in the Monday Night Massacre.
Hall had to cover Moss one on one much of the day—lest the team get totally gashed on the run by Chris Johnson—and he performed well. Congrats, D-Hall, you reinspired my faith in you.
Now please pick off Favre four times next week and we'll be all good.
The team could've changed their name to the Washington M.A.S.H Unit and no one would've complained.
Coming into the game, the Redskins were already down two of the most important pieces on defense, that being cornerback Carlos "I'd Be In The Pro Bowl If I Could Catch" Rodgers and LaRon Landry. They lost Lorenzo Alexander, Rocky McIntosh, Cedric Golston, and lost Brian Orakpo and DeAngelo Hall on a couple plays.
Phillip Buchanon came up huge in the game, catching two picks and very nearly picking off another pass from rookie quarterback Rusty Smith, who seemed to forget his team were the ones in blue, not the slick gold pants. Reed Doughty, Chris Wilson, H.B Blades and Byron Westbrook all played well with their time.
On offense, Fred Davis seemed to be fighting for yards like he was afraid he was getting cut the next day. Brandon Banks came up huge with a big time third down conversion pass, going across the middle, taking a big shot and hanging on. A week after possibly losing his starting job, and after the Redskins bought Terrance Austin with the team with the intention of activating him, Joey Galloway came up with some big catches, and seemed to actually run the right routes.
I already mentioned Keiland and the o-line. Those guys made the most of their time on the field.
It's been said before, so it needs to be said again.
This is not a game the Redskins would've won last season.
Had the Redskins lost, I was already content with the fact that they had played a good game. After the back to back losses in horrific fashion, all I wanted was the Redskins to show up and not embarrass themselves.
They did that and more.
Sure, there are still things to fix. I don't like talk about the Redskins and the playoffs, but if they were to make it, scoring one touchdown a game isn't going to do it. Too many drives stall in the red zone, and we take a few too many chances down there. I'm all for aggressive play calling, but I'll take the safe "get them in the end zone" calls too. The defense will have to stop giving up so many yards eventually. And one good game does not mean the entire season is saved.
But in the face of it all—with everyone thinking the Titans had it won, and with the slew of injuries that seemed to spell further doom—the Redskins rose up. They proved that they weren't going to lay down and get beaten, that they had some fight, and some spirit, and that you can never let the Redskins hang around.
The Monday Night Massacre still stings. But this win put a little bit of salve on the wound. It restored a tiny bit of that hope that we had all lost on Monday.
Let's hope they keep it up.