Before last nights 17-16 win over the hated New York Giants, ESPN reported about Giant's co-owner John Mara and his involvement in stripping the Washington Redskins of $36 million in salary cap space. ESPN's Adam Schefter even reported that the Redskins were using some of Mara's comments as bulletin board material to get psyched for the game.
Honestly this Redskins' team need bulletin board material to get up for a game. This Redskin team has solid leadership on and off the field and even though it looked like the same old Redskins half-way through the season, we've seen a fire lit under them that we haven't seen since Sean Taylor's passing.
ESPN had London Fletcher mic'ed up for the game and in spite of his age Fletcher was as excited as a Texas high school player playing in his first cross-town rivalry game. The whole team was fired up for this one, they knew they let the last meeting in the Meadowlands slip away and they weren't going to let that happen again.
The defense, who looked awful at times (especially on a few second and third and longs), bent a lot but never broke allowing only one touchdown and forcing four field goal attempts–the Giants only making three of them.
A lot of credit needs to go to Mike and Kyle Shanahan for the way they handled the offense last night. In spite of a secondary that was giving up some big plays, they never got away from their game plan. They knew the Giants with their speed rushers would be susceptible to draws up the middle and the option and so they stuck to it. They didn't try to get into a shoot-out, not once. They pounded the ball with rookie running back Alfred Morris and sprinkled in some options with Robert Griffin III and controlled the ball in the fourth quarter.
In his Monday Morning Quarterback last week Sports Illustrated's, Peter King said that no one wanted to play the Redskins and RG3 right now, and even though I am a forever optimist with this team I scoffed at that. Even though we finally have our quarterback we're still the Redskins, we're still a team that really hasn't been relevant in 20 years and going into games like last night I'm still nervous about the out come. It's starting to change though.
Last night, much like on Thanksgiving, I was preparing myself for a gut wrenching loss. I was sitting there before kick-off waiting for the old Redskins to return, the ones that would give me a glimmer of hope before playing like a Pee-Wee football team. That didn't happen though. Sure there were times last night and last week that it looked like those Redskins were trying to break through but our new quarterback, like Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead, kicked their decrepit face back into the cellar.
In fact, last night the Redskins did something we haven't really seen them do in a long time. With the game on the line and one of the best fourth quarter quarterbacks under center the defense stepped up and shut the Giants down. A defense that has been giving out yardage like a house giving candy out on Halloween they got angry and they played their ass off on that last drive.
The Giants punted with just under four minutes to go (and I feared that Brandon Banks fumble). Banks didn't fumble but there was a yellow flag by the punter and I feared a "roughing the kicker" call even though it was barely even a "running into the kicker" (which was the proper call). The five yards wouldn't give the Giants a first down so they declined instead of re-kicking (though if I were punting to Brandon Banks I'd re-kick and hope he'd make another mistake).
So the Redskins had the ball with 3:51 to go and the Giants had two time-outs. The old Redskins would run the ball three times and punt and that's what I was expecting.
Sure we ran the ball, we had been doing quite a good job of that all day, but when we were faced with a third and medium Kyle and Mike knew we didn't want to just had the ball back over to Eli so they dialed up a play action pass to Pierre Garcon and kept the drive alive.
We still couldn't just kneel down to close out the game so we fed the ball to Alfred Morris who on third and three looked like he was going to be stopped just before the first down marker kicked it into another gear and dragged Giant tacklers for an extra three yards to close out the game.
Like I said the old Redskins wouldn't have done that. At some point we would have punted the ball on that last drive and prayed our defense would keep the Giants out of field goal range, which wouldn't have happened.
The winds of change are blowing through D.C. now it might have happened a little late this season (it's going to be a dog fight until the end to get into the play-offs) but next year is looking very bright and I can't wait to see where RG3 and Alfred Morris take this offense.
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