Monday, September 22, 2008

They Won the Damn Game

"Everyone in this stadium sees these receivers wide open"

Takeaway drill: Jason Campbell commits no turnovers again, Redskins play hard, give up yards, hold the line, win a back and forth game against the Cardinals. The Redskins offense made all the right moves, the defense held the Cardinals in check, Jim Zorn's offense takes another step forward.


Monday walkthrough: on a hot day we tailgated. Then went in to see the Washington Redskins hang with a certified offense, give up a few big plays, make a few big plays of their own before beating the Arizona Cardinals 24-17 to move to 2-1.

The Redskins took the ball to start the first quarter and moved down the field on 11 plays over 6:32 of game time, it was a terrific drive, Jason Campbell was six for six with a scramble, Clinton ran twice before running it in from three yards for a touchdown, 7-0 Redskins on a great west coast pass heavy opening drive. The Cardinals spent five minutes with the ball, mostly running then punted. Another pass heavy Redskins drive ensued, they punted. On the Cardinals' first play Edgerrin James was hit by Ricky McIntosh and fumbled, Carlos Rogers picked it up (op. cit.), Redskins ball and that is where the first quarter ended, 7-0 Redskins. (first quarter Washington Post / Matt Terl / Rich Tandler)

The second quarter starter began with the Redskins driving, Devin Thomas was called for an offensive pass interference then factored into the end of the drive when Jason Campbell tried to force it in to Santana Moss while Devin was wide open. Shaun Suisham came in and kicked a 48 yard field goal when Durant Brooks did not bobble the snap, Redskins 10-0. When Arizona got the ball back Edgerrin ran once for seven yards and otherwise except for Jason Taylor's tipped pass and Kedric Golston's sack was all Kurt Warner. Cardinals cannot convert a third and 17 and punt. Redskins three and out and return the ball to the Cardinals. Arizona marches almost exclusively on Kurt Warner's arm, Carlos Rogers gets a bullshit pass interference then a trick play and Kurt Warner throws a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin, 10-7 Redskins. The Redskins get the ball back and try to run out the half and cannot, puntm Durant booms a 56 yarder. Arizona starts at their four yard line, makes some blah blah and the half ends 10-7 Redskins. (second quarter Washington Post / Matt Terl / Rich Tandler)

The Cardinals got the ball back to start the third quarter and ran 15 plays over 5:40 but could only manage a field goal in part thanks to Fred Smoot's now I bounce off you personal foul. An almost Shawn Springs interception and two LaRon Landry plays later and Arizona kicks a 26 yard field goal, game is tied 10-10. Redskins get the ball back and move methodically, featuring Ladell Betts, a pass by Antwaan Randle El and five catches by Chris Cooley before Jason Campbell hooks up with tight end Todd Yoder from two yards for a touchdown, 17-10 Redskins. On the ensuing Cardinals drive Kurt Warner, completely abandoning the run, connected on second and six for 62 yards to Larry Fitzgerald for a touchdown, game again is tied 17-17. When the Redskins got the ball back they seemed to forget the run and ran five straight pass plays to end the quarter with the game tied 17-17. (third quarter Washington Post / Matt Terl / Rich Tandler)

The Redskins continued their drive to start the fourth quarter but punted, when the Cardinals got the ball back Kurt Warner went long to receiver Steve Breaston, cornerback Leigh Torrence got in the way and the ball bounced off Leigh's helmet and was pulled in by a diving Carlos Rogers who got up and ran 42 yards on the turnover to the Cardinals 15 yard line. After a no gain run by Clinton Portis, Santana Moss caught a short Jason Campbell pass to the right and did what he does second best, run through the defensive raindrops and score a 17 yard touchdown, Redskins 24-17. The Cardinals struggle to find oxygen on a four and out and punt. Redskins score immediately on a long Devin Thomas catch but the score is nullified by a strange Stephon Heyer personal foul, then 10 plays and five and a half minutes later the Redskins are kicking a 52 yard field goal and they missed it, Jim Zorn had an old time freak out on holder Durant Brooks for icing his own kicker. The Cardinals got the ball back at midfield, stalled and unbelievably with 2:46 left punted. Washington served a steady diet of Clinton Portis and after the two minute warning Jason Campbell connected for 26 yards to Chris Cooley to ice it. Two plays in victory formation and the game was over, Redskins win 24-17. (fourth quarter Washington Post / Matt Terl / Rich Tandler)


Soapbox: right off the bat I would like to thank Mark Newgent of Redskins Examiner for affording me and my neighbors Bill and Paul the opportunity to see this game. Mark was a terrific host and I look forward to more games and more fun. Look for my game journal of this game by Wednesday.

Damn if the Redskins are not a west coast offense. Clinton Portis looked good when he could, this is a passing team now, the transformation is complete in only three weeks.

It is also excellent to see another defensive player, rookie strong safety Chris Horton last week and cornerback Carlos Rogers this week with a fumble recovery and an interception (ibid.), make game changing plays, great defenses produce great players and vice versa.

The Redskins are dominating the fourth quarter. That is so different for Redskins fans.


Chattering class: Les Carpenter has the obligatory front page A1 piece on how great the Redskins played and how Dallas week is heating up. Les' piece is sandwiched right between stories about anxiety over the proposed bailout in the worst financial disaster in generations and the role of unelected quote First Dude unquote Todd Palin in Alaska politics and what that might mean for a Palin administration.

Jason La Canfora at the Washington Post with his columnist hat on writes a great piece on Greg Blache's defensive game plan and how it worked to muzzle this high powered Cardinals offense. With Jim Zorn being an offensive guy and all the focus being on the sea change on the Redskins offense, it is good to see the defense is playing well, very well.

Mike Wise also at the WaPo writes about the great season Santana Moss is having and how his twin abilities to pose a deep threat and catch and run in traffic make him a great fit for this offense. And I agree. I also agree with the WaPo's Tom Boswell that the Redskins offense has shown steady progress. We are bound for a disappointment to be sure, still it does not look to me like these two games were flukes.


Omnibus: the Redskins opening drive was awsum, in a west coast offense six pass three run kind of way.

The offsetting pass interference play by Devin Thomas and Rod Hood in the first quarter was bullshit, that was all on Rod Hood.

Great game by cornerback Carlos Rogers, a fumble recovery and a big interception, the pass interference call in the second quarter was bullshit, the ball was to the inside and favored the receiver the whole way.

While Devin Thomas' first pass interference call may have been bullshit (see above), the second was legit, he needs to work on not pushing off.

To end the first drive in the second quarter Jason Campbell tried to force it into Santana Moss when Devin Thomas was WIDE open, Jason caught looking down a receiver again.

Defensive tackle Kedric Golston sacked Kurt Warner in the second quarter, that is notable because the Redskins have not had a decent pass rush from the tackle position for some time now.

After the first weak punt Durant Brooks had a great game punting and holding in that he did not botch any holds.

The Redskins defense put good pressure on Kurt Warner who wears a glove on his throwing hand even in 80 degree heat.

When Fred Smoot committed the personal foul on Kurt Warner in the third quarter he was like a mosquito bouncing off Kurt's helmet.

Shawn Springs almost had a interception in Arizona's first drive of the second half, it bounced off Shawn's hands and into Anquan Boldin's hands.

LaRon Landry made two terrific plays in the Cardinals first drive of the second half, one to prevent a touchdown and one in the running game.

On the Redskins first drive of the second half Jason Campbell and Chris Cooley hooked up five times. In that one drive.

On the Cardinals third quarter scoring play, the 62 yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald, Reed Doughty and LaRon Landry both got burned.

After the Redskins went for an ill advised 52 yard field goal in the fourth quarter when the snap and hold seemed to be ok, Jim Zorn absolutely freaked out on punter-holder Durant Brooks. It looked pretty bad for Durant and we all kind of agreed that the snap and hold were both ok. As I read in the Washington Post today the problem was the too early snap Durant called for, we were in the stands wondering what happened, it looked like Shaun Suisham started his motion to kick and then stopped, the play had not actually begun. That is because Durant had gotten the high sign from Shaun then called for the ball from long snapper Ethan Albright. Problem was, the official had not given Ethan the ball yet, the play could not yet be started. When the snap finally did happen Shaun pulled it wide left. Coach Zorn was yelling at Durant for icing his own kicker.

Shawn Springs was locked in on Anquan Boldin for most of the game and Anquan only caught three passes and one of them was against Fred Smoot who still has a sore hip but always gives all his receiver assignments too large a buffer. Shawn batted down one pass and almost intercepted another and Shawn also played some at safety, a great game by an aging and still effective veteran.

After getting beat in the third quarter for a 62 yard touchdown by Larry Fitzgerald, Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache benched strong safety Reed Doughty and Chris Horton and Shawn Springs played most of the rest of the game at safety.

This game was the first time since November of last year that the Cardinals did not score more 20 points, a streak of ten games.

Joe Bugel was the head coach of then Phoenix Cardinals from 1990 to 1993, having left Joe Gibbs' staff for the job. There is still a Redskins connection to the Arizona Cardinals, Russ Grimm.


I know Zorn when I see it: head coach Jim Zorn calls another good game, moves to 2-1 career as a head coach. I am seeing more confidence on the part of Jim Zorn that this team can do what he wants. With a hat tip to DC Pro Sports Report I read Jason La Canfora at Redskins Insider recounting two smart plays by coach Zorn on the Redskins' opening drive: short yardage situation, coach calls a pass out of heavy jumbo, then on the next play swaps out personnel for four wide to stretch out the goal line defense and calls a run, touchdown Clinton Portis. Pretty sneaky coach! Again coach Zorn called for a late pass to seal the game when Joe Gibbs would have gamely run it in the middle to ensure the clock continued to run, risking a punt. On second and seven with 1:59 left in the game and leading by seven points coach Zorn called a pass that went 26 yards to Chris Cooley, then victory formation it is.

Shooter: a terrific performance by quarterback Jason Campbell, 22 of 30 for 193 yards and two touchdowns, Jason completed his first eight passes, breaking a streak of 15 straight going back to the end of the Saints game. Key stat: for the third game in a row, no fumbles, no interceptions. Jason is not only getting the hang of this Jim Zorn offense, the mechanics of his play have improved, he appears actually to be evolving before our eyes.

Coltrolled: zippo, need to dig a little to find some Colt Brennan news.


Washington Post / AP recap, box score, play by play, photos. NFL recap, box score, full play by play, Gamebook (PDF), photos.

Other recaps:

Next up, a road trip to Dallas and everything that goes with Big D, next Sunday will be the Redskins last game ever at Texas Stadium.

Carlos Rogers: Jonathan Ernst / Getty Images from here. Tony Romo creepily kissing Jessica Simpson from here.