One thing is certain about the Redskins: they are rarely boring to watch. After giving up a 17-point lead in the second half and nearly 500 yards passing, the Skins fell to the Texans 30-27 in overtime. Both teams played very well for the most part but a few mistakes cost the Skins a victory. The blocked field goal in the 4th quarter, the holding penalty on Stephon Heyer after a critical 23-yard catch by Santana Moss, and the offsides call on Chris Horton were among the biggest blunders. Two key injuries also affected the game as Laron Landry and Trent Williams tweaked their left wrist and knee respectively. The overtime itself was torture for Skins fans as the team went for a 52-yard field goal, which Graham Gano made, but Texans’ coach Gary Kubiak called a timeout just before the snap. Gano’s second attempt was way off the mark. When the Texans got possession of the ball, they moved it to the 18-yard line and Neil Rackers hit a 35-yard field goal giving Houston a victory after 71 ½ minutes of football. There is no question that the Skins gave a full effort in this game. It’s just a matter of holding a lead and finishing plays late in the game that they need to improve upon.
Positives – Donovan McNabb was outstanding. He went 28 of 38 for 426 yards and a touchdown, including several completions over 20 yards. His ability to run this offense was never in doubt. He also benefited on great protection by the offensive line. Trent Williams, in his second game, played well against Mario Williams. Big Mario did have 3 sacks in the game but for the most part McNabb was never affected by the pass rush. On the other side, the Skins got to Matt Schaub and sacked him 5 times. They mixed blitz packages and used only one down lineman on a few occasions. The defense also slowed down the Texans running game and Arian Foster was held to 69 yards rushing after his 231 outburst last week against the Colts. Mike Shanahan also made sure to utilize the Skins depth by giving significant playing time to second and third stringers such as Keiland Williams, Vonnie Holiday, Anthony Armstrong, Roydell Williams, and Kory Lichtensteiger, all of whom made key contributions to the game.
Negatives – As good as the Skins pass rush and run defense was, Schaub picked them apart and had a career day (38 of 52; 497 yards; 3 touchdowns). Carlos Rogers had an interception on Houston’s first drive but after that Schaub settled down and the Texans passing game was exceptional. The Skins secondary gave zone coverage and Schaub found openings in there, mostly to Andre Johnson who had 12 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. The 3-4 defense that Jim Haslett has installed will give up yards, particularly through the air, due to their emphasis on blitzing and creating turnovers. Against Houston, the Skins defense gave up too many yards and relied on their linebackers in pass coverage, which is not their strong suit. Another factor was the lack of a running game. Clinton Portis had two touchdowns in the first half but only 33 total yards on the ground. In fact, the Skins had almost the same amount of yards rushing (18) as carries (17) and could not control the clock in the second half. The offensive line has not opened as many holes in the running game as expected, but it’s also looking clear that Portis and Larry Johnson simply don’t have the burst of speed they once had. The Skins can’t rely on McNabb like this every game.