Locker room scene: The day belonged to end Bruce Smith, who basked in the afterglow of setting the NFL's all-time sack record, getting the 199th of his career. He was swarmed by teammates after the sack, who genuinely seemed happy for him -- even those who have been annoyed by his antics this season. They later dumped water on him and some serenaded him in the locker room with chants of ``Ali, bomaye!'' -- a reference to what the crowds shouted at Muhammed Ali before, and during, his 1974 fight in Zaire. Translated, it means ``kill him.'' But the players shouted this because Smith was the new sack king. Smith also donned a burgundy robe with ``All time'' written in gold letters. It was a gift from his tailor. Whatever you want to say about Smith, and whatever you think of the record, it's an awful lot of sacks and Sunday was a celebration of his career and not a statement on his season.
Tepid response: About the only person who wasn't awed by the record was coach Steve Spurrier. When asked afterward what Smith meant to the Redskins, Spurrier said, ``He's another one of our defensive ends. He's played half the time. He's been a good leader, a good veteran player. It's nice that he set the record.''
Comical: Watching Smith pursue the sack record provided a few laughs, like when he kept jumping on the pileups after others had sacked the quarterback. That caused more than a few chuckles in the press box, mainly because everyone up there -- including Redskins employees -- knows how important this record was to Smith. But one sad sight came when Smith was clearly upset about not getting a sack on a play in which Jessie Armstead got one. Here's the other thing: Smith has a coin and card commemorating the occasion (for $19.99). Or you can buy a t-shirt celebrating his feat. But I can't help but wonder if this is much ado over not much. After all this stat wasn't kept until 1982. Though an end like Deacon Jones, by most accounts, would not have had the record, he did not play in a pass-happy era like Smith did.
Not quitting: Give the Redskins' players credit for not giving up on this season. It would have been easy to do Sunday (even though the Giants stink), considering the weather and the lack of energy in the stadium. But they kept fighting. Coach Steve Spurrier would get blamed if they had quit, so give him, and his assistant coaches, credit for having a team that's continued to play hard. There's only been one game where they laid a major egg: Buffalo. Other than that they've played hard in every game.
It helps that key players such as LaVar Arrington, Jon Jansen, Laveranues Coles, Jessie Armstead, Jeremiah Trotter and Champ Bailey -- among many others -- care deeply about winning.
Tough conditions: The wind was horrible Sunday, which I realized standing outside Giants Stadium waiting 10 minutes for a cab. I can't imagine standing on the field for several hours in those swirling winds. At one point the flags atop the stadium were blowing hard in one direction while the flags on goal posts were blowing hard the other way. That had a direct affect on Tim Hasselbeck's passes; some he thought were perfect ended up getting carried by the wind; others died in the wind, forcing the receivers to make crafty adjustments. Which they did.
Alas, punter Bryan Barker didn't make much of an adjustment. In those type of winds, you must kick the ball lower -- sort of like hitting a golf shot in those conditions. He didn't do that until later in the game. I can't imagine Barker returning next season.
Jack of all trades: Patrick Johnson has been a nice player for Washington this season. He only caught one pass for nine yards Sunday, bringing his season total to 15 receptions for 170 yards. But he also returned a kickoff 50 yards, setting up a touchdown. And he plays on the coverage units -- he's well-liked in this role by special teams coach Mike Stock. Plus, despite the fumble against Miami, he can return punts in a pinch. Johnson is the kind of guy who's good to have: a versatile player who can fill several roles, saving money for other players. He's also averaging 24.4 yards on nine kickoff returns.
Hard runs: Trung Canidate showed more toughness than in other games this season, actually breaking a tackle or two. He slipped out of one tackle attempt by a safety on a third and two from the Giants' 7 at the end of the first quarter, gaining three yards. It's a short run, but it's a darn good one. It also sustained a touchdown drive, giving Washington a 10-7 lead.
Tough catches: Was every one of Coles' four catches a circus act? Or did it just seem that way? Coles only grabbed four passes for 55 yards, but he had a beautiful 24-yard grab in between two New York defenders. He continues to make clutch plays.
Different strategy: After getting knocked for being so off-balance with the run and pass against New Orleans, the Redskins swung the other way vs. New York. Sunday, Washington ran the ball 48 times compared to 19 passes. The cutoff number is 33. When the Redskins attempt 33 passes or more, they're 1-6. They had to run more Sunday because of the weather conditions. If not for the wind, they would have thrown more given the Giants secondary is missing three starters.
Redskins 20, Giants 7
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