Redskins Blog: Flag Was Cheap, Late, But Legit

The TD-nullifying flag was late and unusual, but a valid call.

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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins. Get details and order at

November 1, 2004

The Flag Was Right

Real quick tonight, more tomorrow:

Yeah, it was a ticky-tack call. True, the infraction had absolutely no influence on the outcome of the play. And, to top it all off, the referee called it incorrectly over his microphone.

But the Redskins did commit a penalty on that play that nullified their go-ahead TD late in the game. From the rules digest in the NFL Record and Fact Book:
After a shift or huddle all players on the offensive team must come to an absolute stop for at least one second with no movement of the hands, feet, head, or swaying of the body. Note:The emphasis is not added, it's in NFL's rules summary
On the play, James Thrash went in motion from right to left. Just before the ball was snapped he stopped and lined up to pass block. According to the rules, he either had to remain in motion either parallel to or away from the line of scrimmage or he had to stop for a second. He did neither.

It's an infraction that's rarely called. Honestly, I don't pay enough attention to it to know if it just doesn't happen often or if it happens a lot and it's ignored.

I do know for sure that the flag was late in coming out. The flag came from the line judge at the line of scrimmage on far side of the field from the TV cameras. From the various camera angles they showed the play from there was no yellow flag down on the field until after Portis caught Brunell's pass and started heading downfield. The hankie was on the ground by the time Portis dove over the goal line.

It doesn't look if the zebra is reaching for his flag as Brunell is dropping back but from the moving camera it's hard to tell for certain.

To be sure, there were over two minutes left to play, plenty of time for Favre, who has won dozens of games for the Packers in the late going, to get his team into field goal position. Still, I think that the Redskins and the fans would a thousand times rather than happen than to see it lost on such an odd call.

Tomorrow, Brunell and prediction evaluation.

October 31, 2004

Bold Predictions: Green Bay at Washington--

Sometimes I ramble on and on before getting into it. Today, I don't.

The potential is there for Brett Favre to have a huge day. While Springs and Smoot will be starting and they're pretty good, the situation at safety is not so good in the light of the Sean Taylor "deactivation". Favre is the master of burning teams trying to blitz him—he can throw it with touch and accuracy off of his back foot while going to the ground--and that's the only way the Redskins have of generating pass pressure. If you define a "big day" in the NFL has getting 300 yards passing and a couple of TD's, I do think that Favre will achieve that.

Even against a depleted Packer secondary, Mark Brunell will not have a big day. A "breakout" game that will cease the catcalls from those believing that he should be benched doesn't seem to be in the cards. The best he can hope for is an efficient couple of hundred yards with a TD and no picks. Again, his line should resemble something like this.

Joe Gibbs will try to hold Brunell's pass attempts down to a couple of dozen max. The best way to defend Favre is to keep him off the field and Clinton Portis should get another heavy workload.

Portis and Ahman Green both have slipped a bit this year, going from being considered elite backs to being considered merely very good. Two weeks ago against the Bears, Portis made his bid to return to the cream of the crop with a 171-yard effort. Last week a 90-yard touchdown run highlighted a 163-yard day for Green. Each of them hopes to use his performance in the previous game to propel him back into the upper crust.

Which back will have the better game? While the defensive stats can be somewhat skewed by matchups at this stage of the season, the Redskins defense is allowing a yard and a half less per rush than the Green Bay defense is. That and Portis' superior explosiveness gives the Washington back an edge.

So, Favre will be the better of the two QB's, Portis the better of the two RB's.

Who will win? I hate to do this and I promise I'll only use this one once or twice more this season, but the team that makes fewer turnovers will prevail. Yeah, that's a cop out since eighty or so percent of NFL games are won by the team winning the turnover battle. Still, these teams are pretty evenly matched and that's the deciding factor.

Redskins one turnover, a fumble. Favre gets picked once and Green coughs it up once.

Redskins 24, Packers 21

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