With the Monday Night Football crew in town televising tonight’s Redskins-Browns game to an international audience, the hype was already noticeably high for the second preseason game of the year.
Add the presence of Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel – who tends to bring his own media storm with him wherever he goes – and the preseason hype meter at FedExField was noticeably off the charts.
But all of that didn’t matter to the Redskins, who continue to be focused on improving as a team heading into their Week 1 matchup against the Texans in Houston.
After shaking off a little rust to begin the game, the Redskins got things going in the second quarter and eventually jumped out to a 14-3 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Browns responded with two quick touchdowns of their own, however, taking a three-point lead with 12:28 remaining.
But a resilient Redskins squad quickly responded with a Kai Forbath field goal to tie the game, and a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Colt McCoy to wide receiver Nick Williams with 2:01 remaining proved to be the game-winner in a 24-23 Washington victory.
It was a moment more than four-and-a-half months in the making. On the Redskins’ second offensive play of the game, quarterback Robert Griffin III dropped back and went through his progressions. With nobody initially open, Griffin III’s offensive line gave him enough time for wide receiver DeSean Jackson to break open down the sideline. Griffin III found Jackson for 23 yards and the first down for the duo’s first official pass-and-catch as teammates. Jackson – a three-time Pro Bowler – signed with the Redskins April 2, and missed the first preseason game with a minor ankle injury. Redskins fans had been waiting to see this connection for quite some time.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Redskins ended the first quarter with a bang. On 2nd and 8 from their own 43-yard line, Griffin III dropped back with the game clock winding down. He chucked a pass deep to his left towards the direction of wide receiver Andre Roberts, who sprinted a long, long way to get under the ball and haul it in for a 49-yard reception just as the clock struck 0:00. The pass got Washington to the Cleveland 8-yard line, but the Redskins were unable to punch it in on that possession.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan logged 6.5 sacks through the team’s first seven games a season ago. But he would get just two more sacks the rest of the way as he battled through a nagging knee injury that required minor surgery this offseason. Kerrigan looked to be his old self Monday vs. the Browns, however, as he got two sacks -- one each on quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel. The sack on Hoyer was on an ill-timed snap, and the Browns simply forgot to block Kerrigan, a Purdue product. The second sack, however, was all muscle, as Kerrigan pushed back his man and got right to Manziel on third down, forcing a punt. Kerrigan and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo have combined for three sacks this preseason thus far.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has raved all offseason about rookie wide receiver Ryan Grant, the team's fifth-round selection out of Tulane. Gruden -- who said Grant has been playing and practicing "like a 10-year veteran" -- might be on to something. Grant was everywhere on the field for the second-string offense against the Browns, and in the third quarter was rewarded for his efforts. He made a nasty move on his defender to break free in the end zone, where quarterback Kirk Cousins delivered a nice pass for the 14-yard touchdown. After the extra point, the play extended the Washington lead to 14-3.
The Redskins -- who moved to 2-0 this preseason -- don’t have much time to analyze the game film of tonight’s game vs. the Browns before they take the field once again.
On Saturday, the team heads to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in Washington’s third preseason game of the year – and first road game of 2014.
The Ravens are 2-0 this preseason, notching impressive victories over the San Francisco 49ers (23-3) and the Dallas Cowboys (37-30).
For many Redskins players, it will be their final chance to impress the coaching staff before the rosters are cut down from 90 to 75 on Aug. 26. Expect a highly competitive environment on the practice field this week, as well as against the Ravens on Saturday.
(For more on this story -- and for much more from the game -- check back with www.redskins.com.)