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Washington Redskins Week #11 Recap: Music City Miracle II


Graham Gano
*At the rate injured Redskin players were going down, the Washington medical staff was starting to construct a mash unit on the Nashville sidelines. It was the right state to be in to start asking for Volunteers. And in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, the Tennessee Titans’ overjealous defense gave the crippled Washington Redskins (5-5) a much-needed holiday gift. Three key penalites on the final drive in overtime allowed the Skins to march into field goal range and give placekicker Graham Gano a shot at redemption. Gano calmly drilled a 48-yard game winner in a stirring 19-16 victory. It was Gano’s missed 47-yard field goal at the end of regulation that forced overtime.

After Monday night’s no-show performance vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, the Skins showed tremendous heart today in Music City. Defensive secondary stars Carlos Rogers and LaRon Landry were ruled out before the game. Running back Chad Simpson injured himself in a freak foot injury ninety minutes before kickoff. Clinton Portis returned from a five-game absence and provided a rushing spark early (5 carries for 32 yards) but was in street clothes by half time after reinjuring his groin. Two starting offensive linemen, Casey Rabach and Derrick Dockery, hobbled off. Landry’s replacement, Anderson Russell, blew out his knee. Stud defensive end Brian Orakpo and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander were also lost to leg injuries. It seemed as if a Redskin player was hobbling off the field every other play.

The Titans jumped on the Skins early. When offsetting first-quarter penalties forced Washington to punt again, Tennesse return ace Marc Mariani capitalized and raced 87 yards to give the Titans an early 7-0 advantage. The Skins evened the score on Donovan McNabb’s five-yard touchdown strike to Santana Moss with five minutes left in the opening period.

Those would be the only touchdowns of the game. The teams would swap field goals in each of the next three quarters. Tied at ten at halftime. Tied at thirteen after three quarters. Tied at sixteen at the end of regulation.

In the preview for this game, I questioned the durability of Titans’ starting quarterback Vince Young, who was having a solid game (12 of 16 for 175 yards) when he was knocked out the game late in the first half with a thumb injury. I should have questioned his emotinal stablity. He mocked booing fans at one point in the game and despite warming up to start the second half, he did not play. (It was revealed after the game that Young fired his shoulder pads into the stands as he left the field and stormed out of the locker room immediately.) His unknown back-up Rusty Smith (3 of 9 for 62 yards) was ineffective in relief and threw a costly interception to Phillip Buchanon late. Superstar tailback Chris Johnson ran wild between the twenties, piling up 130 yards on just 21 carries. But the Skins were able to keep him from breaking the big one and getting into the end zone. Randy Moss’ key play was an offensive pass interference penalty. He was blanked in the game.

Despite a reshuffled, shorthanded offensive line, credit has to be given to Redskins’ starting quarterback Donovan McNabb. With a crippled rushing attack, the Titans knew he was going to the air and he still completed 30 of 50 for 376 yards. He did throw one interception in regulation and had another overruled by replay during the last drive in overtime. Santana Moss had over a hundred yards receiving on a gimpy hamstring, Chris Cooley was shut out for three quarters before coming up huge (7 catches for 91 yards) in the final quarter and overtime, and even Joey Galloway had his first three receptions in over a month. Durable Keiland Williams carried the rushing load (23 carries for 68 yards) once Portis was reinjured and contributed six receptions as well.

So the Skins have a pulse after all. Wiith the NFL’s biggest disappointment, the Minnesota Vikings (3-7) heading to Fed Ex in WEEK TWELVE. The Vikes were pummeled at home today by the Green Bay Packers, 31-3. Brett Favre has been a disaster in his second season in Minnesota. Favre should have remained in Mississippi firing spirals to high schoolers. His “sexting” scandal rocked the NFL. Here is a message Viking fans are texting to #4 tonight: “PLEASE RETIRE!” He leads the league in interceptions. I predicted after the Skins’ WEEK ONE win over Dallas that Wade Phillips would be the first NFL coach canned. Brad Childress is on life support in Minnesota. (Although the Bengals’ Marvin Lewis could be outrunning him to the NFL unemployment line.) Favoritism toward Favre and preserving his almighty record-games-started streak has lead to a descension-riddled Viking squad.

Heal up from this grueling overtime game, brace yourself for the turkeyfest on Thursday and look for my Vikings/Redskins preview by mid-week!