If you tuned into ESPN 980 following the Redskins’s first victory since October 2, you might remember the caller who phoned in to say that, at 4-7, Washington could still catch Dallas and make the playoffs. HA! This is why we love Redskins fans. Eternal optimism in the face of soul-crushing reality fills the metro region this morning, which is fitting because the team played with that same stubborn belief yesterday. Conviction, grit, and—yes—skill propelled our ragtag group of backups and rookies from a 10-point 4th-quarter defecit to a much-needed W.
Ranked 31st in the league in rushing offense, the Redskins comitted to running the ball (it’s almost as if someone in Ashburn has been reading this blog). Shanahan made Roy Helu the feature back and the rookie delivered, totaling 108 yards on 23 carries. Not to mention that sick touchdown run in which he hurdled his first-named brethren Roy Lewis and lowered his shoulder on the way to the end zone.
If before the game we told you that Rex Grossman, consummate incompetent, would complete 26 of 35 passes for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns, would you have believed us? Good, we hope not. Throw in a pair of interceptions and the whole scenario sounds a bit more plausible. And the Rexiest play of the game? A 50-yard hail-mary pass on third-and-19 in the fourth quarter to Anthony Armstrong, who came down with the ball in the corner of the end zone. Redskins 20, Seattle 17. It was like a movie.
On fourth-and-5 in the fourth quarter, Seattle decided to go for it. True to form, Haslett puts 8 defenders on the line of scrimmage to blitz Tavaris Jackson. Up by 3 points and with no one in the backfield, the Skins could have lost the game if Jackson could get the ball off in time. Instead, the blitz was too much and Orakpo and Bowen sacked Jackson. Seattle’s next and final possession ended with a DeAngelo “I Deserve To Be Cut” Hall interception. Oh, how Haslett’s fortunes have changed.
Let’s check out what some of our favorite Redskins writers have to say:
“Best Quarterback on the Roster: Is there any doubt it’s Grossman? And that starting John Beck for three games was a total waste of time and momentum during one of the NFC East’s weakest years in recent memory? … I don’t believe this team would be 4-7 had Grossman started all 11 games.”—Dan Steinberg, DC Sports Bog The Washington Post
“If ever a coach wanted to show his players an example of the importance of sticking with the run even when it doesn’t seem to be working, he could show them video of Helu’s day. The rookie got the start and showed an ability to handle a full workload. That doesn’t mean he’ll continue to get them the rest of the way, of course. This is Mike Shanahan, after all.”—Dan Graziano, NFC East Blog ESPN
“So, the rookie touched the ball on 12 of the Redskins‘ first 21 plays. Not so long ago, Shanahan worried about putting too much pressure on Helu, the 105th overall pick in April’s draft. ‘He’s not ready for that,’ Shanahan said. That changed Sunday.”—Nathan Fenno, The Washington Times