Redskins.com’s Brian Tinsman takes a closer look at Sunday afternoon’s contest between the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders at the O.co Coliseum:
It’s difficult to consider a season hanging in the balance in Week 4, but the Redskins come in at 0-3 and in desperate need of a win with the bye week on the horizon.
But the turbulent NFL has been full of surprises this season and the Redskins have seen that there is no sure thing. No easy opponents, especially going from coast-to-coast.
Going into the season, this game had the makings of a trap game for a successful, yet overly-confident Redskins team. Now that the Redskins sit at 0-3, it has the makings of a must-win contest in order to gain a foothold in a topsy-turvy NFC East.
In other words, just win, baby.
Once again, the Redskins came out of the tunnel, took the field, and found themselves behind by two scores before anyone noticed. But unlike the first three games, the Redskins turned on the jets, scoring 24-unanswered points.
Give the defense huge credit for locking the Raiders down, keyed by the pick-six by rookie cornerback
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Redskins finally had a number of worthy plays to choose from, but the highlight play of the day goes to the individual efforts of
Operating just on the Raiders side of midfield, Griffin III took the snap and had pressure closing in from all sides. Tucking the football, he rolled out to his right and found Helu Jr. sprinting past his linebacker down the sideline. Hitting him in stride, Helu Jr. did the rest, hurdling a defensive back and picking up 28 yards to put the Redskins back in the red zone.
A play that may have ended in a sack any other game this season turned into the biggest gain of the day, reminiscent of last year’s offense.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Without question, nose tackle
Cofield has been a solid force this season despite operating without one of his hands (broken).
Robert Griffin III has been the face of the franchise, for better or for worse since his arrival last season. It seems strange to call him an under-appreciated hero today, but he deserves credit for his finest performance of the season. Yes, he threw for a season low in yards (227) and passed for only one touchdown, but he managed to stay upright (one sack) and protect the football; no turnovers for the first time all season.
That’s the performance the Redskins needed in a rough-and-tumble road win, and that’s exactly what No. 10 delivered.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
--The Redskins running game took contributions from
--He may not show up in the highlights package, but
--Welcome to the NFL, David Amerson! The rookie cornerback has been exposed in coverage at times and maligned by the media, but he made his first game-changing play of his career with a second quarter interception-turned-touchdown that closed the score to 10-14. In addition to the accurate diagnosis of the play, Amerson returned it 45 yards, beating the speedy Raiders receiver in a foot race. Flynn is the type of quarterback capable of making big mistakes and the Redskins were actually able to take advantage on that play.
--He was joined in the sack parade by
--Riding the ferocious power running of Alfred Morris, the Redskins marched down the field late in the third quarter. The drive cost Morris in the game, as he left with what was diagnosed as rib bruises at the time. The Redskins managed to finish the drive off with a five-yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III to
--Roy Helu Jr. initially struggled to get going, but was paramount in the team’s fourth-quarter scoring drive that put the Redskins up by two scores for the first time all season. On the drive, he had a 28-yard reception that ended in the hurdle of his defender and put the Redskins in the red zone. He finished off his efforts with a 14-yard rush up the gut for the cushion touchdown.
--The Redskins collected seven sacks today for the first time since playing at Philadelphia last season. They relied on Barry Cofield, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, who each tallied a pair of sacks, and
WHAT WENT WRONG
--The Redskins defense came into today with a goal of taking away Raiders running back Darren McFadden. In failing to do so, the Redskins opened up the Raiders playbook and allowed the silver and black to sustain drives early. The Raiders have a talented offense of the raw variety and can be contained by being disruptive and stopping the run. Before the Redskins knew it, it was already 14-0 in the first quarter. The Redskins had much better success against Rashad Jennings, who needed 11 carries to reach 28 yards vs. McFadden’s 29 yards on five carries.
--The Raiders dictated the day on special teams, with kicker Sebastian Janikowski keeping it out of kick returner
--Opposing defenses have had good success blitzing the Redskins offense this year and today was no different. Quarterback Robert Griffin III had defenders in his face for most of the day, as he rolled out, back-pedaled and threw the ball away a number of times. If not for his own physical escapability, the Redskins would have weathered a number of first half sacks that he was able to prevent.
--The Redskins had more struggles on third down, converting only twice in the first half, both on a drive midway through the second quarter. But finding themselves in need of a spark, the Redskins went for it on fourth down near midfield, even burning a timeout in the process, gambling that the play would not backfire. It did. Robert Griffin III dropped back looking for
--Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo is an undeniable pass rush talent, but dropping a would-be interception in the first quarter left the Raiders offense on the field in the red zone. On the very next play, the Raiders took advantage with their first touchdown of the day. These are the type of plays that don’t appear glaringly in the final stat report, but given his reaction to the play, he understands the magnitude of the miss. Fortunately, he had the opportunity to overcome the missed opportunity later. Something to file away for the bye week.
--Even when things went right early today, the Redskins were unable to capitalize for long. Tight end Logan Paulsen started today in place of
Until today, the Redskins did not have a second-half lead in a football game since Week 17 of last season, when they beat the Dallas Cowboys 28-18. Taking the lead on the Pierre Garçon touchdown, the Redskins capped off a huge comeback win on the road for their first victory of the season.
The Redskins head into the bye week at a very relieved 1-3. Since 1990, 22 teams have made the playoffs after starting the season 1-3, but only one team had made it after an 0-4 start. The Redskins have two weeks to prepare for the annual rivalry game in Dallas, where they will look to win for the second year in a row. First, however, the Redskins will rest and regroup, enjoying the perks of a bye week before a long stretch run to the playoffs.
The monkey is finally off their backs.
The Redskins said they needed a win by any means necessary, and they stayed true to their word this week. Facing an inexperienced starting quarterback and suspect offensive line, the Redskins defense imposed their will, finishing the day with seven sacks, three turnovers and a touchdown.
Even though the Redskins will not play for another two weeks, a win like this can serve as a catalyst for the rest of the season. The Redskins didn’t bring their A-game, but they clawed back and won anyway. That gives the Redskins the opportunity to build momentum while registering the take-home lessons necessary to improve.
Key contributors including Roy Helu Jr., David Amerson and Leonard Hankerson provided the spark, and leaders like Barry Cofield, Robert Griffin III and Pierre Garçon did the rest.
Any win is a good win at this point and the Redskins will get back to work on building a winning streak against Dallas in Week 6.