I really liked the play calling on that first drive; Zorn's script worked to near perfection. Play action to pass Moss, Portis up the middle, Portis off right end, sprinkle in a little Randle El, then the slip screen to Moss for a first and goal at the one. Then they missed connections on a handoff, ran a pitch to the left which was a). Stephon Heyer's side of the field and b). the short side of the field, and then a shovel pass that did not fool the Lions at all. The fact that the Redskins had to settle for three there set the tone for the game.
Mike Green played fairly well in his first start in place of Chris Horton, especially for someone who was on the street a couple of weeks ago. He had six tackles, second on the team to London Fletcher.
Dan Orlovsky is not a smooth operator and he gets a little sloppy in some of his throws. He doesn't possess a laser or a cannon for an arm. But he could be a good QB someday, someday soon. Not a Pro Bowl type or anything like that, but he looks like someone who could develop into a Kyle Orton type.
It seems like Jason Hanson has been kicking for the Lions forever, but it's only been 17 years. He made his debut for Detroit about seven months after the Redskins won their last Super Bowl.
The Redskins run the traditional screen to a running back so poorly that they rarely even try it. But the tight end screen to Chris Cooley works nearly every time it's tried. Cooley usually is able to rumble for at least 10 yards before even needing to elude a tackler.
I thought that the facemask call on Jansen that cost a first down in the Red Zone was bad, but on another look, it was awful. Jansen never touched the defender's face mask. Suisham missed a 50-yard field goal after that.
I hate Jim Zorn's two-minute philosophy. He says that he's afraid of the other team getting the ball back with enough time to move in for a score so he doesn't even think about calling a timeout with less than 50 seconds left. That's fine, but why not go no-huddle, spike the ball, work the sidelines, anything to conserve the clock and get in more plays. They got the ball back with 2:30 left. Portis runs for five and they let the clock run down to 2:00. Then a pass to Cooley picks up about 10 and the clock continues to tick. The next snap comes with 1:24 left. That's 1:06 for two plays. Yes, the Skins got a field goal but with a slightly more aggressive philosophy they might have been able to score a TD.
That said, the third and 19 conversion pass was a thing of beauty. The Lions had eight back in coverage, Thrash found a soft spot and Campbell just dropped it in right on the money.
Even after watching it a few times, I can't decide whether or not to blame Cooley for the incompletion that stalled the Skins' first drive of the second half. He did have both hands on it but the safety did make hard contact on the arm.
The biggest little play of the game came in the middle of the third quarter. Cooley caught that TE screen for 17 yards to convert a third and six at the Washington nine. If the Redskins punt there, trailing 10-9, the Lions have a good shot a good field position to expand their lead. As it is, the drive stays alive and ends with the Skins taking the lead for good on Campbell's 50-yard bomb to Moss.
On that pass to Moss, Campbell did a great job of just shrugging off the unblocked blitzing defender and firing on target.
Brian Billick referred to Santana Moss as "Santonio" at least four times, maybe more. He even did it while he was in the process of apologizing for doing so. I trust that his boss will give him a verbose, convoluted reprimand.
Devin Thomas was the first Redskin to greet Moss in the end zone after the punt return for a TD. I'm sure that Thomas was relieved that Moss was able to make something out of it after the collision.
At the time, I liked the decision to go for two after that, but it could have come back to bite them. The return put them up by 12 and the thought process was that two Detroit touchdowns beats you if you're up by 12 or by 13. But after Detroit scored a TD, Suisham's field goal just after the two-minute warning would have wrapped up the game had they kicked the extra point. Instead, the Lions could have sent it into overtime with a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
There are complaints that the Redskins let the Lions get back into it with their touchdown drive after that. Those concerns are legitimate but the Lions, for all their faults, have a way of coming back. They made competitive games out of brewing blowouts against Houston and Green Bay earlier this year. Still, you'd like to see the defense make a statement and force a three and out or get a turnover in that situation. Greg Blache wasn't happy with it; see the last bullet point in this article.
You have to like the Redskins coming out throwing on that last drive—which, again, would have been a classic game clincher had they been up by six instead of five. After the passes to Moss for 20 and to Cooley for seven, it was Portis three times for four, four and 31 yards. They burned off over four and a half minutes.
We nearly saw the downside of Zorn being aggressive in late-game situations with the Campbell fumble. The ball took a nice bounce away from a few Lions and Jon Jansen was able to pounce on it.
London Fletcher knew where that fourth-down play was going better than most of the Lions did. The stop was reminiscent of Sean Taylor leveling Patrick Crayton in Dallas to clinch the Brunell to Moss game in 2005 in Dallas.
After the game, Greg Blache said that the performance of his defense was like "the South end of a North-bound skunk." Why don't you tell us what you really think, coach?
Rich Tandler blogs about the Skins at RealRedskins.com and he is the author of the upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle. You can reach Rich by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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