Another #VictoryMonday Redskins Nation. On the brink of a season crushing loss the Washington Redskins steadily improving defense had the goal line stand of the season. 1st and goal from the six inch line with less then 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter and only up by three points is usually a recipe for disaster. Not today for the now 3-5 Redskins, they put together a full 60 mins plus of football in all phases of the game. Was it all pretty....no but it was a total team effort and team win, which the Redskins needed badly. Looking at this game I figured it would have to be one of the teams more complete performances of the season to get the job done and that they did. Robert Griffin III looked more like the reigning OROY. He was making the throws into tight windows, broke the pocket when he had to and in his words he "tried to fly" by leaping at the end of a 3rd down run that gave the Redskins a 1st down and extended the drive. Alfred Morris finally got his 2nd 100 yard rushing performance of the year with 121 hard fought yards on the ground and a touchdown. Darrel Young had a career day with three touchdowns on the ground and is the first running back since Jerome Bettis (1994)to have three TD's and less than 14 yards rushing.
Last week Pierre Garcon made some statements about the passing game that seemed to rub some folks the wrong way but boy did he show and prove in this game. With seven catches for 172 yards and numerous highlight reel catches he was a one man wrecking crew against the Chargers secondary. Leonard Hankerson did show up with some big catches and finishing the day with five catches for 55 yards. The rest of the wide receiver corp didn't do much in the passing game but did do a hell of a job in downfield blocking to spring Morris on several big runs on the day. Young TE Jordan Reed made some plays early but once again disappeared in the second half but did make a huge 3rd down catch in overtime to help extend the drive and get the win. One pleasant surprise was the play calling of Kyle Shanahan, he stuck with the run, added some wrinkles to the playbook, and utilized the triple option to help open up holes in the passing and running game. Kyle kept the defense off balance with a steady dose of zone stretch, zone read and well timed play action pass plays.With the play distribution of 40 rushes and 32 passing attempts it seems to be a good combination for winning and hopefully Kyle will keep this in mind going forward.
The defense has been steadily improving week to week and kept that streak going with a gritty and gutty performance that saved and won this game. The stats might not reflect this but the on the field product is showing improvement not saying there isn't room for more improvement. The defensive line did a good job getting constant pressure around Phillip Rivers and forcing him into two interceptions. One of which was just a misscommunication with his WR but the second was an athletic INT by the rookie David Amerson. Amerson read the route perfectly and went more aggressively for the ball then the WR and came up with his 2nd INT of the season. He also missed an assignment on a 4th down on the game tying drive by the Chargers. The linebackers had another tough and steady performance by allowing only 69 yards on the ground and helped contain the high powered Chargers offense. The secondary didn't have as good of a afternoon like in weeks previous but did collect two interceptions from Mr. Rivers which always makes your secondary look better. The goal line stand made by the defense in the fourth quarter with less then 30 seconds was one of the most impressive stands I've seen from a Redskins defense in a very long time. Since the defense had been stuffing the run for most of the day it made the Chargers one dimensional and forced them to throw it on 2nd and 3rd down and ultimately settling for the game tying field goal to force overtime.
Last but not least the special teams. I'll start with the bad, two blocked field goals is never a good thing but in defense of that part of the unit the 59 yard field goal attempt had to be kicked low because of the distance. Now on the other hand the 25 yard field goal attempt was all on the kicker, it was no reason for that kick to be that low for a lineman to be able to just reach up and block it. This unit is in flux with Nick Sundberg being on IR but hopefully they can get this issue fixed this week in practice. One part that has improved in the last three weeks has been the coverage on punts and kickoffs even with Kai Forbath kickoffs being returned and not held in for touchbacks. I like the fact that they are finally improving as a whole unit but can't continue to have plays that cost the team points or gives the other teams points. With two winnable road games coming up (Minnesota 11/7 and Philadelphia 11/17) this team will have to mirror this 60 min performance to get them back to .500. Have to take one game at a time, now let's get to the grades:
Quarterback: Robert Griffin III had one his best games of the year throwing the ball completion percentage wise against the Chargers. Only had 9 incompletions with a few drops mixed in but did complete passes to eight different receivers. Early in the game Robert didn't look as accurate as we're used to but in the 4th quarter and overtime he threaded the needle to Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed to help extend the game winning drive. I believe the chemistry with those two is growing just hope another WR can step up and give RGIII another dependable target. He did have an interception on a crazy play backed up in his own end zone but that was more on the offensive line than the 2nd year QB. The highlight of the young playmakers day was when he "tried to fly" and made a five yard leap for the first down while getting hit and hitting the ground pretty hard. It extended the drive and eventually lead to points. Grade: B+
Running Backs: Once again the three headed monster Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr. and RGIII ran for over 200 yards with Darrel Young chipping in with three TD's. Of those three touchdowns the last was the game winner in overtime after and impressive drive which featured six rushes out of the 10 play game winning drive. The fact that the team pulled out the triple option to give the defenses something new to think about was a game changer. It was really effective,aided the play action passing game and even got Santana Moss and Jordan Reed involved with both receiving pitches on the triple option and both gained 18 yards on their runs. Grade: A
Tight Ends: Jordan Reed can be a deadly weapon for this offense if they can find a way to keep him involved throughout the whole game. Fred Davis looks as if his time here in D.C is over with him being a healthy scratch for the third week in a row. I would've loved to see a two TE set featuring Davis and Reed but looks like that just isn't in the cards unless things drastically change. Logan Paulsen even tho he's not 100% he is still the teams best blocker at the position and has above average hands. I've said previously that Niles Paul has to get more involved in the offense and it looks like he's getting more reps and even caught a pass but I would like to see a lot more out of Paul. Grade: B
Wide Receivers: Pierre Garcon is proving all the doubters wrong and doing it in a flashy fashion. Most critics and experts say Garcon isn't a true #1 WR....well with 7 catches,172 yards and a number of spectacular catches what would you call that? After the comments he made after last weeks loss, Pierre definitely backed up his words. There was a Leonard Hankerson siting on Sunday, after two weeks with only two catches Hankerson stepped up and had five catches for 55 yards. Santana Moss got involved receiving a pitch out of the triple option and would've had a big gainer in the third quarter but RGIII over threw Moss.It's a sad statement that the TE's have more targets and receptions then any other receiver not named Garcon.(Pierre deserves a A but the unit as a whole gets). Grade:C+
Offensive Line: This unit has had its ups and downs this season but it's clear that the right side of the line needs to be addressed. Chris Chester, who has been consistent and productive thru his time here but he is looking out matched recently and was called for holding twice . The Tyler Polumbus experiment needs to be concluded. He does well in the running game but in the passing game he is a liability. On several plays he was man handled by the DE and I believe his play sometimes is the reason the offense doesn't succeed in many aspects. Trent Williams is putting together another Pro Bowl season by effectively making his opponent disappear. Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery have been okay but has been giving up too much pressure up the middle but they did rush for over 200 yards for the third time this year (2-1 record) and didn't give up a sack for the first time this season.Grade:B-
Defensive Line: The D-line did a good job of constantly getting pressure and collapsing the pocket around Phillip Rivers and kept him uncomfortable throughout the game. Barry Cofield did a hell of a job of clogging up the middle which helped allow the team to only surrender 69 yards rushing. It wasn't a stellar outing but it was a consistent outing and was a major part for this team victory. The late fourth quarter goal line stand was not only game saving but hopefully going forward maybe even season saving. Some experts say that San Diego made some bad play calls but when your team has only 69 rushing yards and your short yardage back is hurt (Ryan Matthews) you have to do what you can to try and score. Grade: B+
Linebackers: The linebackers were active, aggressive and impressive even tho the numbers don't truly reflect it. London Fletcher, Perry Riley Jr. and Nick Barnett did an excellent job containing the All Pro Antonio Gates to only 53 yards on five receptions. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan got constant pressure even tho neither recorded a sack they did make things very uncomfortable for the veteran QB. Brandon Jenkins was activated over Darryl Tapp and the rookie didnt't make a big impact but he was in the mix of getting pressure. Grade:B
Cornerbacks: Even tho the ranking of 28th against the pass this unit is playing far better then its ranking. DeAngelo Hall had another good game but without any turnovers. Josh Wilson had a another decent game but did nothing to stand out and E.J Biggers grabbed his first interception as a Redskin and had pretty good coverage when he was in. As for the rookie David Amerson he recorded his 2nd INT when he read the play perfectly, broke on the ball aggressively and beat the WR to the spot and made an athletic interception. I think with Amerson gaining confidence and Wilson not standing out I can see a secondary with Amerson on one side and Hall on the other going into next season. David did make a crucial mistake by letting a WR run free for a 20 yard gain on a 4th and 2, but also did make the stop of Danny Woodhead at the six inch line to force the goal line stand. If this unit keeps improving and it can help propel this team back into the race for the division title. Grade: B
Safeties: With starters Reed Doughty and Brandon Meriweather back together this was the first time all season that all 11 scheduled starters were on the field together. Brandon played a smart, hard hitting game and didn't receive any personal fouls. Reed Doughty once again plays his position well and was where he was supposed to be. Going up against a potent passing attack the back end has drastically improved since the start of the season. Rambo is chomping at the bit to get back into the defensive rotation and hopefully will get some reps to see if the game is finally slowing down for him. Grade: B
Special Teams: If its not one thing it's another. Finally sure up the kickoff and punt return coverage and you get two field goals blocked. As I stated the 59 yard FG attempt had to be low with it being such a long FG but the 25 yard attempt was all on Kai Forbath, he must improve and get his kickoffs deeper. I was happy to see Santana back on a kickoff return but would love to see him on punt returns too. Grade:C-
Now with a quick turn around and a road game versus Minnesota who lost a heart breaker to Dallas and are a strong team at home. This is a crucial game for the Redskins with the Eagles being their next opponent, a win against the Vikings and it could be the game to get this team back to .500. As always #HTTR. You can follow me for all your Redskins and football news on Twitter @TattooedScorpio and can follow the editor for this blog, writer for @SonofWashington and good friend @IIWIISOWSkins and don't forget to subscribe to the blog for a email whenever a new article is posted.#BeatDaVikings