Change can be good sometimes. Maybe the Washington Redskins needed a change of scenery (two home loses), a change in play calling (fake punt, running the ball more, blitzes), and even a change in pants.
When the Redskins announced they would be changing from gold pants to the Joe Gibbs winning burgundy pants of the 1980s, many fans shouted in approval on social media. By the end of this game, many fans would need to change their own pants for a different reason.
The Redskins certainly played their best game of the season by not giving up, overcoming miscues and by fighting hard throughout this classic back and forth game. Coming back from a 20-9 deficit with injuries to DeAngelo Hall, Bashaud Breeland, Shaun Lauvao, and Korey Lichtensteiger showed everyone that this team has some heart, guts and passion. They earned this 29-27 victory and no one can tell them otherwise. This was a win over a team with a winning record on the road. All things the Redskins struggled with last season.
At the beginning of the game, Jamison Crowder by not coming up to take the short punt and having Quinton Dunbar accidentally touch the ball, and lose possession, put the Redskins down by 7 straight away. Anxiety, frustration and hand wringing certainly began with all Redskins fans at that point in the game. It would be a harbinger of things to come in the first half.
The Redskins defense still seems to be a sieve and teams playing against this defense seem to really enjoy running the hurry up offense as a way to keep the Redskins poor personal on the field. One bright spot was that cornerback Josh Norman held wideout Odell Beckham Jr. in check and even frustrated him enough to hit himself with a field goal net by the end of the game. The Redskins defense can’t rely on field goal nets to do their dirty work, and at some point this defense will need to figure out a way to play against the hurry up and adjust.
As the defense was failing, kicker Dustin Hopkins was succeeding.
Hopkins certainly seems to be the early season favorite for MVP on this team as he has at least tried to keep the Redskins close in some of these games and has been a perfect 11 for 11 this season. We would be talking about another loss if it wasn’t for his leg.
Then something interesting happened on the Redskins sideline.
Nose tackle Chris Baker who is actually one of the other bright spots on the defense, finally had enough, and had words with defensive coordinator Joe Barry on the sideline after the Giants 3rd touchdown making it 21-9 in favor of the home team in the 2nd quarter.
Words were exchanged, hands were flung, fingers were pointed. The time to put up or shut up had finally come.
Give Barry some credit, he listened.
Barry started mixing up his coverage, blitzing and applying pressure to Eli Manning. The defense responded and would hold the Giants to just 6 points in the second half.
While the defense began to solidify the offense began to click.
Kirk Cousins and DeSean Jackson needed just two plays to go 75 yards and bring the game back to life. Cousins 44 yard touchdown pass to Jackson was on the money and Giant fans were flooded with memories of Jackson and his capability to break their hearts in the Meadowlands.
All the sudden the Redskins faithful believed that this team had heart and they would not go silently into the night.
Crawford made up for his bone head play earlier in the game and on a 3rd and 15, made Techmo Bowl like moves after a catch to take it the distance and give the Redskins the lead, 23-21.
Then after a field goal by the Giants and with the Redskins trailing 24-23, Jay Gruden, made a coaching decision that took guts. He called for a fake punt. Punter Tress Way lobbed a rainbow of a pass to Dunbar for a great pass and catch play. The Redskins would end up making a field goal to take the lead again 26-24.
All the sudden the Redskins faithful believed that this coach had guts and was willing to gamble on his team.
The lead would be exchanged back and forth one more time, until the Redskins made one last field goal to take the lead 29-27 with 1:51 left in the game.
Manning who has made 35 comebacks in his career, some more famous than others, then took the field with 2 timeouts.
Redskins fans began to worry. Maybe the pants weren’t enough to change the course of this season. Manning was going to roll down the field and have their kicker make all this angst and negativity come rushing back.
Then rookie linebacker Su’a Cravens made a fantastic interception on Manning and that angst was replaced with relief, joy and unadulterated ecstasy.
The change in scenery, pants and the win column made for a change in the team’s attitude and belief that this team hasn’t given up on the season and neither should you.
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