It’s funny how so often in the NFL you can point to one precise moment that seems to irreversibly swing a game.
Last week the Redskins and Eagles appeared to be heading to half time in a close fought slugfest that seemed destined to go down to the final possession. That is, before Carson Wentz told his teammates to hold his beer. He promptly put on his wizard hat, combined all the best qualities of Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger in one, and the Eagles only punted once for the rest of the game.
Last night, you’d be forgiven for thinking the game was trending in a similar direction early on. With less than 3 minutes left in the first half, the Redskins lined up to attempt a field goal that would put them 16-7 up. Not bad considering the almost-absurd slew of injuries they had racked up prior to the game. But instead of going up by nine, they somehow conspired to be down by one after the Cowboys blocked the kick, returned it to the two-yard line, and easily punched in a short Touchdown.
This was a game where, given the team was at borderline breaking point before kickoff, everything had to go right in order to win. A 10-point swing right before half-time was simply too much for this Redskins team to bear, and the game was by this point irreversibly changed.
But wait, there’s more!
As if the list of 14-strong players on the midweek injury report wasn’t enough, of course, more players exited the game. Niles Paul, Shawn Lauvao and Jordan Reed were all ruled out throughout the course of the night. An offense that relies heavily on multiple tight end packages suddenly found itself with one sole healthy tight end in Vernon Davis. A run game that had already been troubled and stagnant all season was left with a cast of Tyler Catalina, Arie Kounajdio, Chase Roullier, Tony Bergstrom and Morgan Moses. Two rookies, two players signed 24 hours prior to the game, and guy playing on two bad ankles. Kirk Cousins took half as many sacks (four) in this one game as he did in the previous six combined.
If injuries ever became a legitimate excuse for a defeat, this game surely has a strong case.
It wasn’t even that close…
At 26-19 I was at least a little relieved I could tell the box-score-trolls we played a close game. But we didn’t really, and although I usually hate the type of score Dallas had to close out a game, the sad truth is 33-19 is a far more realistic representation of what actually played out throughout the course of 60 minutes. After the Field Goal fiasco there was only one team in it.
Josh Doctson was up to 80% of snaps this week (47). He’s firmly supplanting Terrelle Pryor who was down to just 32% (19). The two players combined for just four targets and one lone reception.
Ryan Grant on the other hand was targeted seven times. These two stats seem indicative of a big problem.
Welcome to 2017, Jamison Crowder.
The Redskins have had some horrible special teams units in recent memory, and this one ranks right up there with them.
I think sometimes we get carried away with how much better the defense really is. Throw out the Oakland game, it was an aberration, that much is clear. While it is improving, there are still plenty of occasions we are seemingly thrown back to Joe Barry style buffoonery.
It was a great game for the Anti-Kirk crowd because apparently, this was a game he could and should have won by himself. He wasn’t great, but it would have taken something pretty special for any QB in the league to overcome these difficulties.
3-4 isn’t a death sentence. Not by a long shot. But this team not getting any healthier pretty sharpish just might be.