Redskins.com’s Brian Tinsman takes a closer look at Sunday’s Week 14 game against the Baltimore Ravens at FedExField:
Regardless of the regional rivalry hoopla off the field and in the stands, both teams came into this game in must-win situations. For the Ravens, it was an opportunity to clinch the AFC North and try to win back home field advantage for the playoffs. For the Redskins, it was the fourth-of-seven “playoff games” to reach the postseason for the first time since 2007.
Newly-anointed punt returner
PLAY OF THE GAME
The game appeared all but over when the Ravens marched down and scored with less than two minutes remaining in the game. The Redskins trailed by eight at that point and needed a miracle comeback.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins was a much-criticized selection in the fourth round of April’s NFL Draft. With other needs on the roster, pundits wondered how a team could possibly need or accommodate two rookie quarterbacks on the roster. But when Griffin III was knocked out of the game in Week 5, Cousins threw a 77-yard touchdown to
Today was a new day, however, as Cousins threw two passes in relief, completing both, including the game-winning touchdown. Cousins also converted the two-point conversion himself, sending the game into overtime.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
--The Redskins committed to the running game early and had success with Alfred Morris, piling up 46 yards on the first drive. Morris had a critical fumble deep in Redskins’ territory later in the first half, but set his team up on the first two scores of the game.
--Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan made a fearless move, deactivating a healthy
--Veteran receiver Santana Moss returned from anonymity this week, catching his first target in two weeks for a clutch 31-yard reception. He finished with three receptions on four targets for 52 yards. Fellow University of Miami alum
--The Redskins’ defense managed sacks from unlikely sources today, as linebacker
--Redskins offensive tackle
--One-time Ravens offensive lineman
--Following the loss of tight end
--Redskins kicker Kai Forbath had another clutch day, overcoming swirling winds for 11 points and two field goals over 48 yards. That makes it 14 in a row to start Forbath’s career, including his first-ever game-winning field goal in overtime. He makes up for a lack of exceptional leg strength with deadly accuracy from any distance under 50 yards.
--Fletcher continued to build his Pro Bowl resume today, logging nine tackles and his third interception of the year. Fletcher leads the team in tackles, and has built that number despite nursing series leg injuries for the last month.
WHAT WENT WRONG
--Redskins running back Alfred Morris has gotten shaky with ball security in recent weeks, losing a fumble in each of the last two games. Today’s fumble proved costly, as the Ravens were given the ball inside the red zone and managed to convert on a third-down touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta, giving the Ravens the first lead of the game.
--The Redskins’ inability to contain opposing tight ends continues to be an issue, as sophomore tight end Dennis Pitta got open for 46 yards and a score. This is consecutive weeks that the Redskins have been exposed, as Martellus Bennett caught five-of-seven targets last week for 82 yards and the Giants’ only touchdown.
--The Redskins’ kickoff unit struggled this week, trying to directionally kick away from Jacoby Jones and accidentally kicking it out of bounds. NFL rules state that a kickoff out of bounds puts the ball at the 40-yard line, which luckily did not prove costly on that drive.
The Redskins came out red hot on offense, receiving the ball first and gaining 186 yards in two long drives. This is the most by any NFL team in the first quarter this season, and the most by the Redskins offense since gaining 189 yards in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears in the 1997 season. Quarterback Robert Griffin III was 7 years old when that game happened.
The Redskins leave the friendly confines of FedExField next week and travel to Cleveland for their final AFC North matchup of the year. Despite their 4-8 record headed into this week, the Browns are 3-3 at home this season and exemplify physical AFC North football. The Redskins need this win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, and the team has played reasonably well on the road.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III on the status of his injured knee:
"If it's anything else [besides an ACL injury], I'll fight through it and I'll be out there next week."
Team wins don’t get much more emotional than the Redskins’ victory today at FedExField. The Redskins are finding unprecedented success from rookies, leaning on key performances by Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and Kirk Cousins to come away with the win.
With the team’s fourth-straight win, the Redskins are over .500 for the first time since Week 1. This is the team’s first four-game winning streak since Weeks 2-5 of the 2008 season, and gives head coach Mike Shanahan his highest win total with the Redskins. It also moves Shanahan into sole possession for 12th place all time in combined regular season wins (164), passing Joe Gibbs.
This was an exhausting victory for the Redskins, but one that the team should bounce back quickly from. The post game locker room was very business-like, as players acknowledged the victory coming off the field and then shifted their focus to battling the Browns next week. Look for the Redskins to take this success on the road, as they have become one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL.