Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tiki Torched


With a chance to win one more for the home crowd and likely spoil a division rivals playoff chances, the Redskins score 28 points and still lose 34-28 to the Giants in a national game on the wonderful, terrible NFL Network. After a weak loss and a bad performance last week by the Giants against the Saints, the focus this week was on Eli Manning, but the man of the day was Tiki Barber. Fighting to get the Giants into the playoffs, he whipped out his full manhood, running for 234 yards and three touchdowns. All night Tiki did his best Emmitt Smith, sliding through holes and never letting tacklers get a good angle on him. He sliced through the Redskins defense like a hot knife through warm butter and it almost looked as if the gameplan was to stop Eli and make the Giants win it on Tiki. He delivered.

The game started with the Redskins driving masterfully down the field 55 yards. Jason Campbell completed all four passes on this drive that featured a QB scramble and tough New York run defense (9 yards on six runs). On the 11th play of the drive, Giants LB Brandon Short clobbered Ladell at the line and he coughed it up. The Giants would convert this turnover into a field goal. The Redskins came right back and scored on a 48 yard pass from Antwaan Randle El to Santana Moss (where would the Redskins be without trick plays?). That makes two bad fumbles in two games for Ladell.

The 2nd quarter was all Tiki, slashing and hacking through the Redskins defense for touchdown runs of 15 and 55 yards, the second of which came one play after Sean Taylor laid a Signature Hit on Tiki coming over the left side. On the very next play, Tiki ran right at Sean, who laid out a weak arm tackle and Tiki blew by. The Giants capped the half with a field goal with five seconds left to make the halftime score 20-7 Giants.

The 3rd quarter started like the first, with a turnover on the Redskins first possession, which the Giants quickly turned into a touchdown. At this point, it's 27-7 Giants and the easy thing for the Redskins to do is start calling 'go home' plays and just keep the clock running and end the gamee. Instead, Jason manned up and took the Redskins on an 11-play, 69-yard drive ending with a touchdown to bring the Redskins to within two scores, 27-14. Memo to coaching staff: 3rd quarter is when you mount those time-consuming scoring drives, even if you are way down, because they wear out the opposing defense and keep the opposing offense off the field. The 4th quarter is too late to take 9 minutes off the clock if you are more than two scores down. See also, Tampa Bay game and Indianapolis game.

The Giants punted on the first play of the 4th quarter, and the Redskins went 66 yards on 9 plays in 5-1/2 minutes to score another TD, this one a one-yard plunge by Duckett. At this point it is 27-21 with 9-1/2 minutes in the game. Any thoughts of the game being winnable though turned on whether the defense could get another stop. They could not and four plays later Tiki ran up the left side for 50 yards and a TD. In previous games, the Redskins may have packed it in, but they did not and Jason drive them down the field again, 68 yards in 9 plays consuming less than three minutes of game time, for a Mike Sellers 1-yard TD catch. Unbelievably the Redskins held the Giants offense and got another shot, 1st-and-78 with 2:18 to play. Four straight incomplete passes and that was all she wrote.

So the Redskins proved to me, after a number of nonsensical drives late in games when the team was way down and playing with no sense of urgency, that they can mount a hasty scoring effort. The final two scoring drives of the fourth quarter were well-executed Jason kept his head, even as he was no-huddling.

I would like to ask someone in charge, WHAT IS DAVID PATTEN DOING IN THE GAME ON THE FINAL DRIVE AND WHY IS JASON THROWING TO HIM...TWICE? David was a non-factor last season as the Little Santana that Couldn't and Brandon Lloyd barely outperformed him this year (see B-Lloyd Blues, below). He has one reception for the year, the Houston game, how ancient history is that, and did not play in 11 straight games before Saturday. Even with Brandon deactivated (ibid.) there's no way that guy should be running routes. That game is won or lost on Santana Moss, Chris Cooley and Antwaan Randle El.

And again the defense just bled out. Sean Taylor was behind the play most of the time and Carlos Rogers was pretty pitiful as well. There's considerable room for improvement by the defensive backfield.

There's a lot of talk about this Andre Carter guy and how his play has improved over the season. The guy I see down on the field is a decent pass rusher, but a terrible run-stopper. Tiki ran left toward Andre all day, the guy may have the quickness to beat a tackle to the passer, but in a run-blocking scheme where he has one second to get into position, he's getting beaten like like Mark Brunell's dog.

Tiki set a Giants record for rushing yards in a game. He was already the Giants all-time leading runner. Redskins set a lot of records for bad. Tom Boswell describes a Pyhrric loss.

Norm Chad wants to create a Reverse Coach of the Year award to be given to the coach whose team should have done better but did not. Joe Gibbs gets an exemption for lifetime achievement, but he's being kind. This award belongs to the Redskins. WaPo Sports Editor-Emeritus George Solomon says, if you want chills in the winter, the Wizards and Capitals are your best bets because the Redskins were a total failure.

NYT coverage: good recap. How bad was Bryant Gumbel? Chris Collinsworth was bad enough in the Marxist anthro prof in a back turtlneck and tweed jacket, but not only was Bryant not a great announcer, I think I heard him farting on air. That's just not right.

Duckett Watch: carried the ball three times for negative 4 yards, and a TD. He had a 14 yard run in the 3rd quarter, but it was called back on a facemask penalty on Mike Sellers. Season ending numbers: 38 carries for 132 yards, 3.5 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns. Look for me next month to make a chart of this feature's predictive abilities wrt to TJ Duckett's final numbers, when news is slow.

B-Lloyd Blues: Brandon Lloyd was inactive for this game, due to 'bronchitis,' but I think that was bullshit, the team is through with him and his time here is over. His public freakouts probly insinuate a number of private freakouts and he has not started since the second helmet-throwing episode and the two subsequent meetings with Joe Gibbs and his forked-tongue nonpology. Final stats for 2006: 23 catches for 365 yards, a 16-yard average, one fumble and zero touchdowns. He was supposed to be a productive number two receiver for the Redskins and was barely able to surpass nominal number 2 receiver David Patten's stats for 2005, and David went on IR after nine games last year! All that for 30 million.

Being Mark Brunell: after Jason Campbell slid late and Brandon Short lay him out like a sack of dirt, the man came in. Sadly he was booed. I don't ever boo players, I boo plays, just with some guys more than others. The Todd Collins experiment is officially over but expect Mark to be back next season.

Arch Deluxe: came in the game in the 4th quarter and actually played safety. The best thing the WaPo could find to say about this:

Safety Adam Archuleta, ...took the field for several snaps. After one fourth-quarter play, Archuleta received an enthusiastic slap on the helmet from fellow safety Sean Taylor despite being far from the action (ibid.).
He met with Joe and the other coaches. Bet that wasn't uncomfortable or anything, a bunch of dry old dudes gladhanding you right out the door.

Box score. Full play by play. Other game reviews and recaps: The Redskin Report (I'll add others as they appear)

Tiki Barber outrunning Carlos Rogers: Rob Hands / Reuters