For three quarters yesterday, the Redskins offense could not produce any spark and the defense let Aaron Rodgers spread the ball around the field. In the fourth quarter, the offense woke up and the defense attacked Rodgers with a mission. Donovan McNabb threw a 48-yard touchdown to Anthony Armstrong. The defense had 4 sacks (two by Brian Orakpo) and made key stops on third down. After Graham Gano’s 45-yard field goal sent the game into overtime, Laron Landry came up a difficult interception and Gano kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Skins a 16-13 victory over Green Bay. They are now 3-2 and still on top of the NFC East. A Sunday night matchup with the Colts looms but in the meantime, this is another conference win to savor.
Positives – If I were giving out a game ball, I would elect the special teams unit as the recipient. Gano’s clutch kicks, Brandon Banks’ electric returns, Hunter Smith’s booming punts, and crushing stops by gunners Mike Sellers and Lorenzo Alexander on kick coverage helped the Skins in the victory. Banks was especially thrilling. He may be the smallest player in the NFL (at 5’6”, 155 lbs.) but he is too quick for opposing defenders to contain. His 30-yard punt return in the fourth quarter started the comeback. Another key player was Armstrong. He finished with 3 catches, 84 yards, and a touchdown. Why he isn’t in the starting lineup yet is a mystery to me. Joey Galloway’s age is really showing and Armstrong’s big play ability could allow Santana Moss to move in the slot more often. On the defensive side, major kudos goes to lineman Philip Daniels, Vonnie Holiday, and Adam Carraker for taking the place of Albert Haynesworth (who attended his brother’s funeral), and providing good effort against both the run and pass. Daniels looks spry at 37, and finished with a sack and two tackles for loss. Also, it may be early but Laron Landry appears well on his way to making the Pro Bowl. His stat line said it all: 13 tackles (one for loss), an interception, and a forced fumble.
Negatives – The offensive line appears to be a mess. Trent Williams and Jamal Brown were both injured in the game. Stephon Heyer continued to look a step slow and had a couple of critical penalties. Granted, there is a lack of talent that’s needed to play in Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme but the constant shuffling of the line is curious to say the least. Derrick Dockery was inactive, leaving the undersized duo of Kory Lichtenstieger and Casey Rabach to match up against the 320+ pound defensive tackles that Green Bay had. Due to these problems, the Skins had only 51 yards rushing and gave up 5 sacks. Since the line has issues in pass protection, the running backs need to provide better blitz pickup. Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams did not help out McNabb in this area, and they need to step up their performances with Clinton Portis out for at least the next few games. Haynesworth’s absence may have affected the defense slightly although their pass rush was strong. The run defense is another story. They gave up 115 on 10 carries to Brandon Jackson who had only averaged 3 yards per rush coming into the game. While Jim Haslett showed more 4-man fronts, it’s obvious this team has major issues stopping the run. Yes, it’s a bend-don’t-break unit but for the fourth time this season the Skins were out-gained in yardage and time of possession. They can’t continue to live dangerously and expect victories.