gift-wrapped the game early for the Redskins, who kept returning those gifts.
In the past, the script would have unfolded this way: with Washington losing,
and kicking itself for blowing a must-win game against an inferior team.
Instead, the Redskins found a way to win a game in which they made a bunch of mistakes. Call it growth. Or thank the Cardinals for being that bad.
Either way, they remain in the playoff hunt at 7-6; their best record at this point of the season since 2000. Of course, that's also when they fired coach Norv Turner.
This time, they enter the Dallas game with momentum, winners of two straight. Yes, they were against teams with losing records. But Washington has played a tough schedule, so the Redskins have nothing to apologize for. Besides, in baseball, hitters use bloop hits to emerge from slumps. Consider these two wins the Redskins' bloop singles.
The nice thing is, it sets up the best Redskins-Cowboys late-season game in a long time, probably since 1992 at RFK Stadium. Whether or not the Redskins make the playoffs is uncertain; what's almost guaranteed is that this will be a playoff-like atmosphere. And isn't that fun?
U-G-L-Y: Yes, it was ugly, but who the heck cares? An ugly win is better than a pretty loss. In tournament golf, the goal is to get the ball in the hole regardless of style points. The Redskins accomplished that Sunday. Granted, they must play better to beat Dallas this weekend. But at least they pulled out a win.
Brutal: Quarterback Mark Brunell was not at fault on the first interception because it bounced off Chris Cooley's hands. But it appeared he made poor decisions on his other throws. Sometimes it's hard to know without knowing the route. On one, it appeared he might have expected Cooley to cut inside. Still, Brunell was not at his best. The Redskins will need a better showing Sunday.
Big run: Antonio Brown might have saved Washington's season with his 91-yard touchdown run, blowing kisses as he sprinted downfield. The blocking was tremendous, making it easy for Brown to find the opening. He nearly broke one earlier in the game, too, thanks to the blocking. And Brown doesn't need much of an opening to be dangerous.
Hustle: Clinton Portis does a lot for the Redskins, but his hustle to recover a Chris Cooley fumble was a pivotal play. It prevented Arizona from getting the ball in Redskins territory. It's a clear example of why the coaches love Portis. He's always running around and trying to help. He was coming over to block when the ball popped free.
Offensive MVP: Portis. He surpassed 100 yards for the sixth time this season. His 15-yard touchdown run was pretty, mainly because he showed vision, patience and balance, not to mention the ability to grab onto Mike Sellers' jersey. The play was blocked well, but it still required nifty footwork to get into the end zone. And I loved his final run in which he ran through linebacker James Darling. Portis is putting the Redskins on his back; it's the best way for them to reach the playoffs.
Defensive MVP: Safety Sean Taylor had his best game of the season, even though he still missed too many tackles. His angles remain questionable, almost as if he sometimes overrates his speed compared to his opponents'. It's a learning process. But Taylor made game-changing plays, even if the Redskins' offense didn't always take advantage.
Defensive MVP II: Linebacker Lemar Marshall. He always seemed to be in the right spot, mainly in the passing lanes. It's how he deflected a few passes. But he still wishes he could have caught the ball on the screen pass. He was there, he just short-armed it. Otherwise, he might have been blowing kisses to the stands en route to the end zone.
Fourth down run: Taylor also made the tackle on fourth and 2 late in the game. But give an assist to corner Carlos Rogers, who took on the pulling lineman hard, forcing the runner to turn inside and squeezing the hole for Taylor make the play.
Jansen's game: Right tackle Jon Jansen had a strong game and showed his athleticism when he pulled, getting to the linebacker and allowing Portis to cut back on a run. That was one big thing missing when Jansen sat out last season; nobody at right tackle was athletic enough to get to the so-called second level.
Nice entry: Give corner Ade Jimoh credit for doing a solid job in relief of injured Shawn Springs. He made a terrific play on Anquan Boldin on the third and one late in the game, coming up hard to make a tackle. Consider it a dumb play by Arizona. Teams can beat Jimoh by going over the top of him. But when they made it an open-field situation, it played to his advantage. Jimoh is used to those situations because of his special teams work and it resulted in a strong tackle.
Ouch: Still no word on whether or not Chris Samuels or Shawn Springs will be available this week. Both left the game with injuries Sunday. The Redskins can't afford for either to miss. Also, still uncertain about LaVar Arrington.