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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 http://GutCheckBook.com
November 11, 2004
Pro Bowl Voting
This evening, I filled out my ballot for the Pro Bowl online at There was also an option to continue voting for the grunts, the offensive linemen and the defensive players. Of course, I took the continue on option after being somewhat insulted that I was given the option to opt out of the process after voting for the big-money guys.
It was as though after punching out the chads for the President, Congress and the Senate last week, a message had appeared on my butterfly ballot saying: "You've voted on the important stuff. If you really want to go on and vote for those obscure county commissioners and those boring bond issues, keep on. Otherwise, turn in your punch card now."
Anyway, let me know what you think of my choices. If you can make a compelling case that anyone I left off should be included, let me know. Conversely, if you think that I voted for an undeserving Redskin, your comments are also welcome.
November 9, 2004
I mentioned this in passing yesterday, but it's worth a closer look; Clinton Portis is in the midst of a monster season for the Redskins.
Again, yesterday he was responsible for just over three quarters of the Redskins offense. He's not quite that big a part of the team's output on the season, but his contribution has been quite substantial. Portis has 976 yards of offense (810 rushing, 151 receiving, 15 passing). The team has 2,181 yards and my handy desktop calculator tells me that Portis represents about 45% of his team's offense.
Since it's the halfway point of the season you don't need an Excel spreadsheet to do the math and project that Portis will finish with 1.620 yards in rushing. That would break Stephen Davis' team record for a season, set in 2001, by nearly 200 yards.
What's truly amazing about all of this is that he's achieved it on an offense that has one of the worst passing games in recent memory. Should things start to click through the air the possibilities are limitless.
Bold Predictions Analysis
Every week in this space I take a look back at my predictions for the game and see how much water they held. I rate the prognostications with buckets of water. A five-bucket prediction held a Lake Michigan full of water while a one-bucket rating wouldn't drown a flea from a lion's mane.
For Washington, Clinton Portis has to have a great day and Mark Brunell must have a decent day. There is much confidence in the former, not much in the latter.Rating: Five Buckets
I couldn't have been any more on the money here if I'd been given a game tape on Saturday night.
(Kevin) Jones won't find much running room against the patched-up Washington defense and Gregg Williams will scheme to harass (Joey) Harrington into some sacks and an interception or two. Kicker Jason Hanson's leg won't be deterred at all, so let's say that the Lions get a TD and three Hanson field goals for a total of 16 points.Rating: Three Buckets
Jones garnered just 20 yards on 12 carries and the Lions as a team rushed for just 64. Harrington was sacked twice and intercepted once. A pretty good call there, but I thought that the Lions would be able to move the ball a little better, enough to get into position for a couple more field goal attempts for Hanson. I subtracted one bucket for each missing field goal attempt.
Getting to 17 is the key for the Redskins. I think they're capable of doing it, but they haven't demonstrated the ability to do so in a winning effort thus far this year. That makes it difficult for me to predict that they will.Rating: Two Buckets
In the late going it will be Detroit 16, Washington 14. Ola Kimrin will have a field goal attempt to win it. It will smack off of the upright and 16-14 is the final.
I've got to give myself some credit for zeroing in on 17 as the total the Redskins would need to win and that's exactly what they scored. Of course, both my endgame scenario and the winner of the game were wrong, so it's just a two-bucket call.
Blocked Punt for TD History
Yesterday, I told you that the Redskins' blocked punt for a touchdown would send the team's beat writers scrambling through the pages of my books to find out when the last time the Redskins scored a TD off of a blocked punt was. Indeed it did and they dug out the September 19, 1982 game against the Tampa Bay Bucs. As promised, here is the complete account of that game from the pages of Gut Check:
Tampa Stadium—In a Florida downpour, the Redskins pulled out their secret weapon—the Riggo Drill.
In fact, the term was coined to describe a segment of practice where John Riggins would run the ball five straight times. But on this day where the rain made the passing game difficult and the kicking game an adventure, Riggins carried the ball a team record tying 34 times for 136 yards. Joe Gibbs mentioned the Riggo Drill in his postgame comments and it became as much a part of the language of Redskins fans as Hogs, Smurfs, and the Fun Bunch.
Riggins' running, along with some Tampa miscues, set up three Mark Moseley field goals, a touchdown pass from Joe Theismann to Charlie Brown and kept Doug Williams and the Tampa Bay offense off of the field. That, and a blocked punt recovered by Curtis Jordan in the end zone for a touchdown, was enough to beat the Bucs.
After taking a 9-0 lead in the first quarter, the Redskins watched Williams strike back quickly. On the first play of the second quarter, the Bucs quarterback unloaded a 62-yard touchdown bomb to Kevin House and suddenly Tampa Bay was back in it, although they missed the extra point to make it 9-6.
After another Moseley field goal, it was Jordan's turn. He slogged through the line, blocked the Bucs' punt, and splashed down in the end zone with the ball for six. Although the extra point was again missed, the Redskins had a little breathing room at 18-6.
The score remained there until James Wilder ran in for a Buccaneer touchdown from seven yards out early in the fourth quarter. The Skins responded with a nine and a half minute drive to another Moseley field goal and appeared to be in control with 4:16 left to play.
It looked as though they had lost that control two plays later. Williams connected with House on another bomb for 71 yards and an apparent TD. But the officials ruled that House had gone out of bounds and then back in to catch the ball, a violation of the rules. Tampa Bay had to punt, and Washington ran out the last 3:37 of the clock with Riggins carrying the ball on the last seven plays.
After the game, Riggins had plenty of time to rest up and the rest of the players had plenty of time to dry out. The player's strike halted play for the next nine weeks. There would be no more Riggo Drills until late November.
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