The Washington Redskins are 2-0. Before the season began there were more than a few people employed by large sports networks that predicted the Redskins would win only two games all season. The Redskins 22-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals wasn’t pretty, but the Cardinals are a good team. The Cardinals are favored over the Rams to win the NFC West and the Redskins were picked by most to go nowhere but last in the NFC East. Based on the strength of their win against the Giants the Redskins found themselves favored against the Cardinals. While the Redskins did end up winning they did not make it easy on themselves and neither did the Cardinals.
Looking at every offensive stat except for points the Redskins dominated. They out rushed the Cardinals 172 yards to 93, they out passed the Cardinals 283 yards to 231, and they had the ball for 17:00 more minutes and ran 31 more offensive plays. Yet the Redskins narrowly squeaked by with a one point victory.
The game started off well for the Redskins until they made it to the red zone. Rex Grossman and Tim Hightower led the Redskins down to the Cardinals six yard line where Grossman was intercepted on a third down attempt to Santana Moss. It was not a good decision by Grossman and cost the Redskins three points and all the momentum they gained from the sustained drive.
courtesy of ‘Gamma Man’
The Cardinals did not score on that interception and had to punt it back to the Redskins. Once again the Redskins offense was moving the ball until a Grossman pass floated high and was tipped by Anthony Armstrong into the waiting arms of Richard Marshall of the Cardinals. It took Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals all of two plays to score a touchdown on a 21 yard pass to tight end Jeff King. The Redskins at this point in the game had controlled the clock and the field, but were not able to hang onto the ball and found themselves down by a touchdown early.
Before the half ended the Redskins were able to score a touchdown and a field goal as Grossman put the two interceptions behind him and continued to manage the offense. Rex Grossman has the mentality needed to play quarterback in the NFL. He did not let his early mistakes consume him and he was not only able to get the Redskins back in the game, but he got them the lead before the half ended.
The Redskins defense once again had a good game. Rookie Ryan Kerrigan finished up a strong debut with another good game as he had three tackles, two pass deflections, and a sack. Kerrigan along with Orakpo and Fletcher was one of the reasons that the Cardinals were only able to have one sustained drive for a score. Their other two scores came on a Redskins defense that was put back on its heels after an interception and on a homerun pass to Larry Fitzgerald.
The touchdown pass to Fitzgerald came on a 1st and 15 where the Redskins rushed more defenders than the Cardinals had blockers. Kolb was hit hard and if the Redskins had gotten to him a split second earlier it could have been an incomplete pass, an interception, or a sack, but Kolb was able to get the ball away and Fitzgerald hauled it in with his big hands and took it 73 yards for a touchdown. For the most part the Redskins defense held when they needed to. After the Redskins pulled within two on a 4-3 touchdown pass from Grossman to Moss the defense forced the Cardinals to go three and out and run less than a minute off the clock.
Inconsistency has been the story of Rex Grossman’s career and this game is a microcosm of that. Grossman had two interceptions to begin the first half, but with the game on the line in the fourth quarter Grossman was able to lead the Redskins to two late scoring drives. After the 4-3 touchdown pass to Santana Moss and the Cardinals three and out the Redskins found themselves needing a field goal to win. Grossman started off the drive with three straight completions before two rushing plays by Roy Helu and a final completion before a dangerous pass into traffic that luckily landed harmless on the turf. Gano banged the field goal home and the Redskins had a one point lead.
The defense once again came up big. The Cardinals and Kevin Kolb had the time to drive down the field for a field goal, but Chansi Stuckey fumbled on the first completion of the drive and Reed Doughty was there to recover the fumble and seal a Redskins victory. Last season this was the type of game the Redskins found themselves in quite often, but most often on the other end. The Washington Redskins won this game. It was tougher than it should have been and a lot of that blame belongs to the Redskins troubles in the red zone. When the game was on the line the offense, defense, and special teams rose to the occasion and earned a victory.
2-0 sounds good, it looks good, and for Redskins fans it feels good. The last time the Redskins started a season 2-0 was 2007 when they finished with a record of 9-7 and lost to the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs. If the Redskins once again find themselves in the playoffs it certainly will be a surprise. Even now at 2-0 the Redskins have a lot to prove. Grossman looks inconsistent, and with an injury to Josh Wilson the Redskins secondary suddenly finds itself lacking depth. The Redskins still have to prove they are for real, but at 2-0 they are closer to being taken seriously than before the season began.