Monday, September 13, 2010

Cowboys Hold On To Lose

Seriously? With four seconds left in the half?

Takeaway Drill: Quadruple witching in Landover: new coach, new QB, a satisfying win over a division rival, all on national TV; one of these teams was supposed to struggle on offense.


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Monday Walkthrough: The new look Redskins fail to score an offensive touchdown, take points off the board and get nothing for it, fail to get a hundred yards rushing and still win 13-7 over the hated Dallas Cowboys to come out of the 2010 gate 1-0, there is a rule that says never do a homicide on an opponent committing a suicide, and that was the story of the Cowboys on national television last night.

The Redskins kick off to start the first quarter, Dallas looks very tight on their first possession, DeAngelo Hall basically ends this drive single handedly and the Cowboys are punting. Washington takes possession for the first time with Donovan McNabb at quarterback, Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley figure early, Santana Moss saves on third down plus a personal foul on Jay Ratliff, a busted play seventeen yard rush by Donovan McNabb, that drive stalls at the Dallas twelve yard line and Graham Gano is kicking a 29 yard field goal and the Redskins take an early 3-0 lead. Dallas gets the ball for the second time, they are executing well, move the ball to the Redskins twelve when the first quarter ends with the Redskins leading 3-0.

The second quarter begins with Dallas continuing their second possession and in scoring position, the Redskins hold on defense and Dallas kicker David Ferris Buehler misses a 34 yard field wide right goal try to keep the game at 3-0 Redskins. Washington takes over at their own 24 yard line, Washington's second possession, a three and out that features a sack of Donovan by DeMarcus Ware through Trent Williams, punt. The Cowboys get the ball for the third time, they look good through four plays and then three and out thereafter, features a holding penalty Dallas center Andre Gurode against Rocky McIntosh who still gets to Tony Romo and there is some good pass defense, the Cowboys punt. The Redskins get the ball for the third time, Santana Moss bails Donovan out two plays in a row, Washington stalls though and punt, Byron Westbrook downs Josh Bidwell's punt inside the five yard line so there's that. Dallas gets the ball for the fourth time in terrible field position, the Cowboys get out of that jam, they move well in the middle of the field and stall at midfield, Dallas punt. Washington gets the ball for the fourth time with under two minutes left in the half, they get out of the terrible field position jam but stall thereafter and punt. Dallas gets the ball for the fifth possession with 27 seconds left in the half, seventy yards from the end zone, Alex Barron gets called for holding against Brian Orakpo, that sets up first and twenty, on the final play of the half Tony Romo inexplicably swings a pass out to Tashard Choice, DeAngelo Hall, Lorenzo Alexander and Andre Carter converge immediately and make the hit, Tashard fumbles, DeAngelo scoops it up and takes it 25 yards for the touchdown, extra point good and the Redskins take a 10-0 lead into the half. Yowza.

The Redskins get the ball to start the third quarter, Washington's fifth possession goes more than sixty yards in nine plays over six minutes, they score a field goal but an offsides penalty on Dallas gives the Redskins another opportunity and they take the points off the board, Washington moves another thirteen yards, stalls and set up for a 24 yard field goal, punter slash holder Josh Bidwell fumbles the snap and the ball goes over to Dallas, nothing to show on that drive. The Cowboys get the ball for the sixth time, they move easily but stall at midfield and punt the ball. Washington gets the ball for the sixth time, a weak three and out deep in their own territory, punt. Dallas' seventh possession starts at the Washington 34 thanks to a bad punt, the Cowboys basically push their way into the end zone, scoring on a four yard pass to Miles Austin, Dallas now trails 10-7. The Redskins get the ball for the seventh time at midfield, two plays and a first down and the quarter ends with the Redskins leading 10-7.

The fourth quarter starts with the Redskins continuing their seventh possession, a penalty and a sack to get things going and the Redskins punt. The Cowboys get the ball for the eighth time, Dallas commits three penalties that move them back, on third and 26 from the Dallas 29 Tony Romo hits Jason Witten for fourteen yards, Dallas punts. Washington gets the ball for the eighth time, a five and out with one good play to Anthony Armstrong and the Redskins are punting. Dallas gets the ball for the ninth time, a pathetic three and out featuring a London Fletcher hit of Tashard Choice for a loss, the Cowboys punt. The Redskins get the ball for the ninth time, biggest play of that drive is Donovan McNabb to Santana Moss for the first down, Larry Johnson nails DeMarcus Ware in the head with his kneepad on the next play, Chris Cooley catches the next pass, tick tock, Clinton, there is some more win on this drive before stalling at the Dallas 31 yard line, after first lining up to punt the team then lined up to kick a 49 yard field goal, dead straight and the Redskins now lead 13-7. Dallas gets the ball for the tenth time, it is very stressful as the Cowboys are increasingly desperate, Carlos Rogers misses an interception, Miles Austin catches a ball to keep the game alive with twelve seconds, timeout Dallas, two more incompletes by Tony Romo and Dallas is taking its last timeout, with three seconds left in the game and Dallas on Washington's thirteen yard line Tony scrambles for time before finding Roy Williams in the right corner of the end zone, touchdown Dallas to make the game -- wait is that a flag? Yep, replacement right tackle Alex Barron was called for holding Brian Orakpo... again, that is Alex's third holding call against Brian and Dallas' fourth overall holding penalty, time had expired and game over, the Redskins win their season opener, Mike Shanahan's first game in Washington and Donovan McNabb's first game in burgundy and gold, 13-7, over Dallas and on national TV to boot. Welcome to 2010, the year football came back to Washington.


Soapbox: The moments that make the game: Cowboys kicker David Ferris Buehler missing a 34 yard field goal in the second quarter. Dallas offensive coordinator and former Cowboys quarterback Jason Garrett inexplicably allowing quarterback Tony Romo a swing pass option out of field goal and hail mary range in his own territory with four seconds left in the half, putting tailback Tashard Choice in position to give up a defensive touchdown.

Dallas replacement right tackle Alex Barron being called for three holding plays, all against Brian Orakpo including the fateful last play of the game. The Redskins taking three points off the board in the third quarter then getting nothing for it, Dallas cornerback intercepting quarterback Donovan McNabb in the end zone on that same drive, the play nullified by a chuck penalty on safety Gerald Sensabaugh, three plays later Josh Bidwell would mishandle the field goal snap and what was a 13-0 game is now back to 10-0. Two possession later with an intervening Redskins three and out and the Cowboys would score their only points, a touchdown.

The Redskins sticking to the running game, 51 of Clinton Portis' 63 yards on the ground came in the second half with the game close, if this had been Jim Zorn or Al Saunders in charge of the offense the team would have come out in the second half with that slim lead and started chucking it all over the place and the Redskins would have made mistakes on offense and lost the game.

Cornerback Carlos Rogers missing his first surefire interception of the year, the more things change the more they stay the same. Carlos played well in coverage, he will never be the ball hawk this defense needs him to be, therefore the coaches will be looking to replace him as soon as they can find someone with eighty percent of his coverage skills and the ability to catch a ball.

As a fan I can only say this was one of the more rewarding moments as a Redskins fan in some time. Plenty of room for improvement, yes. The curve is pointing upwards though.


Chattering Class: The Washington Post front page section A page one story is back with a vengeance, Mark Maske delivers the game recap for the everyman, sandwiched on the front page between a stories on tax cuts consuming Congress' energy and how president Hamid Karzai is not really an ally in the war on Afghan corruption.

Also over at the Washington Post, Tom Boswell writes about a good start for the Redskins and reminds Redskins fans that other coaches have come into Washington and started hot before struggling.

Curly R favorite Tracee Hamilton writes about tailback Clinton Portis' obvious transformation from owner-brownnosing, teammate throwing under the busing malcontent to quiet contributor and reminds us there may be no other ball carrier in the league that can block like Clinton.

Michael Wilbon has mostly dropped off the pages of Curly R, I have outgrown his work, or he has been on cruise control for half a decade, pick one, he gets it right today, this is a game the Redskins would have lost in years past, a solid but mediocre performance, the difference this time is that it was the other team making the mistakes.


Omnibus: Broadcasters: Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, Cris has really grown on me, he is a quick wit and knows his shit, NBC knew what they were doing.

Uniform watch: Worst kept secret in Washington: The Redskins were going to bring back the gold pants from the Sonny Jurgenson days and they did with the Redskins taking the field in burgundy jerseys and yellow pants, with a new era of Redskins football upon us and I need to rethink my well known prejudices on uniform combinations.

Miscue roll call: Reed Doughty with a missed tackle on the first play of the game, Carlos Rogers with a missed tackle in the Cowboys fourth drive, Rocky McIntosh on same drive, hits Felix Jones in backfield and can't bring him down, Brian Orakpo on same drive had a chance to take down Marion Barber in the backfield and whiffed, Carlos Rogers missing the interception in the Dallas tenth drive, Carlos has hands of stone.

Plus internets roll call: Rocky McIntosh with a nice strip attempt in Dallas' first drive, DeAngelo Hall figured into three plays on that drive. Dallas second drive Felix Jones got a good run ended by a big LaRon Landry hit. Dallas fifth possession, Brian Orakpo makes mincemeat of guard Doug Free, Andre Gurode called for holding Ricky McIntosh and Rocky still gets through for the hit. Clinton Portis can black just about anyone in the backfield.

Starting defensive line: Adam Carriker, Maake Kemoeatu and Kedric Golston, no Albert Haynesworth to be found to start the game. He was in on that first drive on third down and was at the nickel.

Just. A. Little. Weird. to see Donovan McNabb taking the field in burgundy and gold.

Shot of Dan Snyder whooping on Dono's big run in Redskins first drive.

Total bullshit personal foul call on London Fletcher in Dallas' second drive, the receiver's knee was not even down.

End of Dallas second possession, second quarter, Albert Haynesworth was pulled from the game and was not happy about it, the cameras saw him stomping around after being pulled, he is a total bitch.

Second quarter, Redskins third possession, Stephon Heyer is in the game at right tackle in place of Jammal Brown, what is up with that? Later I saw Kory Lichtensteiger in at left guard in place of Derrick Dockery, are these related to performance, injury or are they part of a new standard rotation?

Game management problems: Washington called two of their three timeouts of the second half in the first possession of the half. Does everyone that coaches Donovan become Andy Reid?

Washington's fifth possession illustrated an age old football truism: Do not take points off the board, after dodging a Terrence Newman interception and two left corner fade incompletes to Anthony Armstrong, Josh Bidwell fumbled the field goal snap and the Redskins get nothing. See more about that here.

1:33 left in third quarter, NBC shows us a replay of Miles Austin's touchdown catch, they somehow reverse out the field and the grass is black, it was weird.

Great stat: London Fletcher has played 99.2 percent of the Redskins defensive snaps. Missed the time frame, whether it is last season or in all four seasons he has been here it is a great stat.


Gamewrap headline workup: The Boys Aren't Back In Town, It Just Hit Me, Cowboys Super Bowl Plans On Hold, Cowboys Hold on to Lose.

Nice to see the other team score a let down in the final seconds, it seems like the Redskins have been the team that cannot shoot for about four seasons now.


The Mastermind: Head coach Mike Shanahan was mostly in place for this game, a departure from the preseason where he prowled like a big cat, at the end of the game though he was in full pace mode, getting used to seeing that guy on the sideline is going to take a while. For a good look at coach Shanahan at work on the sideline, check this out.

Number Five: Quarterback Donovan McNabb did not have a stellar night, fifteen of 32 for 171 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions and a 63 passer rating. One INT was called back on a penalty in the third quarter. Dono found connections to receiver Santana Moss and tight end Chris Cooley so let us look at this game as the beginning of the beginning.

Silver and Back: Rookie left tackle Trent Williams held his own against Cowboys Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Trent gave up one sack which about the least any left tackle in the league is going to give up, a solid performance in his first regular season game after tangling with Terrell Suggs and Calvin Pace in the preseason.

Albert the Butthurt: Oh Albert. He was not in the game to start though he did play in that first drive and was in for most of the game at nose tackle, the highlight of the Albert Experience was near the end of the second quarter, the Cowboys were driving and Albert was pulled on a third down, the cameras captured him in all his petulant glory standing by himself on the sidelines with hands out, clearly wondering to anyone that wold pay attention, why o why cruel woild would coach evar take me out? Albert is going to be a lol all season.


Washington Post recap, photo gallery. NFL recap, box score, full play by play, Gamebook (PDF), photos, video highlights.

Next up, the Houston Texans, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's old team, and their high powered offense come to town, last week the Texans snookered the Colts, a team accustomed to playing with a lead, therefore Indianapolis' defense would be more comfortable playing against the pass, instead of unleashing Matt Schaub (Wahoowa!) and Andre Johnson in the passing game, Houston kept it on the ground with undrafted Arian Foster, the Colts could never compensate and now the Texans are 2-17-0 against the Colts. Sunday's game figures to be a real test.

DeAngelo Hall: Jonathan Newton / Washington Post from here. Matt Schaub: Getty Images from here.


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This weeks game against the Texans is a must-win for the Cowboys. Wade Phillips job may be in jeopardy if they dont pull it off. I dont think Jerry Jones is going to be very patient with so much on the line.