They weren’t supposed to win. No chance. No way. Not on primetime.
The Dallas Cowboys were fresh off their sixth straight win and two weeks removed from upsetting the reigning Super Bowl Champions on the road.
Meanwhile the Redskins barely slid by the hapless Tennessee Titans after turning to third string quarterback Colt McCoy.
Oh yeah, and the Redskins are bad during primetime games. Like coming into the game 3-17 in primetime games since 2008 bad.
But as the saying goes, that’s why you play the game. Turns out the Redskins had some fight left in them and managed to pull within three games of the NFC East lead, a feat that didn’t seem likely not too long ago.
Under the direction of McCoy, a 20-17 overtime victory was in order.
- Second half confidence
I don’t know what was said by Jay Gruden at halftime but it worked. Going into the half, the Redskins could only muster three points and 127 yards on five possessions after two turnovers created by the defense. Washington’s workhorse, Alfred Morris, only ran for 11 yards on five carries.
Once the third quarter began, the offense finally matched the defense’s confidence. Colt McCoy was sure of himself and his reads. His throws were quicker and crisper as the game went on. He began to look like a quarterback that can lead a team without constantly second guessing himself.
- Bashaud Breeland
Since the preseason, Breeland has shown the attitude and confidence a cornerback needs to succeed in the NFL. He plays without fear and doesn’t like to give an inch to receivers.
Going up against an elite receiver like Dez Bryant is no easy task but Breeland didn’t back down. He defended two passes to Bryant toward the end of the third quarter to prevent Dallas from taking the lead. Fittingly, Breeland sealed the victory by knocking down a fourth down pass intended for Bryant in overtime. He ended the night with six tackles, four passes defended and one forced fumble. Not bad for a rookie fourth-rounder.
- An aggressive defense
The most aggressive Redskins defense I have watched in the last decade was Gregg Williams’ 2004 squad. Even if it was just for one game this season, it was nice to see a defense resembling that. Blitzes left, right and up the middle. Tony Romo was never able to get into a real rhythm because he and his talented offensive line were always guessing where the pressure would come from. Members of the Redskins secondary were constantly trying to get the ball and actually did so successfully.
In all, the defense forced four fumbles, recovered two and sacked Romo five times. The defense’s aggressiveness never wavered from start to finish and carried the offense through their first half struggles.
- Colt McCoy. Yes, Colt McCoy
There were a lot of naysayers out there when it came to Colt McCoy. Myself included. He struggled early. The nerves of his first start since Dec. 8, 2011 got to him but he still completed eight of 11 passes for 112 yards before halftime. In the second half, it was clear he became comfortable and finally realized it was his team for the rest of the game.
McCoy even ran for his first touchdown since Nov. 7, 2010, his third appearance in the NFL. He completed 25 of 30 attempts, the best single-game completion percentage in Redskins history with at least 30 attempts. He finished the game with 299 yards with one interception and one rushing touchdown.
- Silas Redd, Jr.’s flip
The man simply defies gravity.
- Continuous offensive mistakes
As stated above, the offense put the team in a predicament by not capitalizing on opportunities in the first half and earning bad penalties.
An odd 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct call on tight end Logan Paulsen for entering and exiting the huddle and leaving the field before the play began took the team out of field goal range in the second quarter.
Perhaps the biggest penalty came with just more than two minutes to play in regulation when the team was flagged for a delay of game. Ultimately delay of game penalties fall on the quarterback so McCoy is to blame for that one. Just one play later he was sacked for a loss of four yards. Both plays took the Redskins out of field goal range so they were unable to put the game away in the most pivotal point of regulation. Under typical circumstances it would have cost the team the game. But it was an atypical night.
- Offensive line struggles
While right tackle Tom Compton improved as the game went on, he still doesn’t appear to be a bookend right tackle. He and right guard Chris Chester struggled in both pass blocking and run blocking. McCoy was sacked three times for a loss of 13 yards. Alfred Morris also has not broken out yet this season. He has gone 15 straight games without rushing for 100 yards. That’s a problem. And so were his 11 rushing yards in the first half.