Monday, October 4, 2010 5:20 PM
By Rich Tandler
Once again, the Redskins hold on for dear life. They are two plays away from being 0-4, and a missed block on a field-goal attempt (among a few other plays in that game) from being 3-1. Such is life for a team in the muddled middle of the NFL. Donovan McNabbs return to Philadelphia is a success. It started out looking like it would be a smashing success as the Redskins rolled to touchdowns on their first two possessions. It looked like the wind came out of their sails to some extent when Anthony Armstrong stumbled and fell after he got behind the defense and hauled in a long pass from McNabb. The Redskins settled for a field goal and those turned out to be the last points they scored. The Redskins were able to hang on, in part, because their defense was able to keep the Eagles from making any big plays on offense. Their longest play of the day covered 31 yards and that was a screen pass to LeSean McCoy. The longest reception by DeSean Jackson, who was averaging almost 25 yards a catch coming into the game, was nine yards. Jeremy Maclin caught one pass for 15 yards. And the Redskins also won in part because Andy Reid completely butchered clock management at the end of the first half. And as much as Troy Aikman would like you to believe otherwise, the officials handled the situation properly. More on that below. It certainly helped that the Redskins knocked Eagles quarterback Michael Vick out of the game, by having three players converge on him as he completed a long run near the goal line. There was a double whammy for the Eagles on that play as the run was fruitless, called back by a holding penalty. But it wasnt good luck that Vick was able to play for less than a quarter. There is a reason why NFL quarterbacks dont often run down the middle of the field; its because there is a big risk of injury. Vick and the Eagles were playing with fire and, after not quite three full games of throwing caution to the wind, they got burned. The final, desperate pass by Kevin Kolb dropped out of the hands of Jason Avant in the end zone and into the arms of DeAngelo Hall. The clock said 0:00 and the Redskins advance to 2-2 with their second NFC East win. Clock controversy First, lets dispense with this manufactured clock controversy. In the last minute of the first half on third-and-two at the Washington two, McCoy ran up the middle. When he went to the ground, the ball was over the goal line. But the officials determined that the ball was short of the goal line when his knees hit the ground. As it was close, the booth buzzed in for a review. When the review was initiated, as you can see in Picture 1 here, the back nose of the ball was over the hashmark representing the one yard line. It never moved from there. After an inordinately long review, referee Alberto Riveron announced that the call on the field stood and it was fourth-and-goal. The Eagles ran some players on and off the field. Again, the ball was not re-spotted as you can see in Picture 2 here. The clock was restarted and seven seconds ran off before the Eagles called timeout. It appeared that Reid questioned the spot of the ball right after the timeout was signaled. Riveron discussed the situation with Reid for a moment. One minute and eight seconds after Reid called the timeout, the play clock ran out, and the Eagles were penalized for delay of game. This was the proper call. Since all of the TV commercial breaks had been expended, the timeout was to last 30 second. The play clock runs 25 seconds. If my math skills are in order, that is a total of 55 seconds. They got an extra 13 seconds to get the play off and they did not do it. After the penalty, Reid was seen on camera talking to the line judge (Pictures 3 and 4 here), apparently gesturing that the ball was moved from a few inches from the goal line to further away. Again, the ball sat in the same spot during the entire review process and during the timeout. I thought the play initially started as 4th-and- inches, but after the review, the play we had for inches ended up being a yard, said Reid after the game. Perhaps he thought that the ball should have been spotted closer. But it never was. They moved the ball back, said Kolb. No, they did not, Kevin. Announcers Troy Aikman and Joe Buck had some comments about this as the first half ended, and the picked it back up as the second half started. Said Aikman, That all has to be sorted out before they can put them on the 30-second clock. It had been sorted out. Reid cant buy extra time on his timeout because he didnt see where the ball was placed and by questioning the spot. To call a timeout and then try to figure out where the ball is, Andy Reid wants to know where the ball was placed, Aikman said, continuing to beat the dead horse. You cant call a play until you know the answer to that. To be on the clock makes no sense and at some point, common sense has to come into play. Again, the ball had been spotted and had not moved. The common sense involved is that 30 seconds plus 25 seconds is how much time you have to put the ball into play from when you call a timeout. They Eagles got 68 seconds before they were properly penalized. Third downs and possession time The Redskins went 1-for-10 on third down in their loss to the Rams last week. That pushed them into the death spiral of the offense not being able to burn time off of the clock, forcing an increasingly-tired defense to keep taking the field. Things were much better against the Eagles. Counting two third downs that were converted via penalties, the Redskins were 7-of-13 on third down (officially, since the NFL does not count penalty conversions, the Redskins went 6-for-11). Against the Rams, McNabb threw five third-down passes that were short of the yardage needed to attain the first down. On Sunday, there were 12 passes called on the 13 third downs, a Ryan Torain run on the final third-down situation the only exception. Of the 12 pass plays, McNabb ran for first downs on two of them, was tackled after a gain of two and sacked for a loss of one. Of the eight passes thrown, including the two on which penalty flags were thrown, six of them were either past the first-down marker or very close to them. Clearly the more aggressive approach on third down helped the Redskins. The 31-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cooley, and a 56-yard bomb to Anthony Armstrong converted the first two third downs. The Eagles went the rest of the game not knowing what to expect on third down. Another factor in the Redskins' favor was they averaged 6.6 yards to go on third downs. Against the Rams, they averaged 8.8 yards to go. Notable Quotables Kareem Moore on handling Jackson: Our game plan for him was to really get our hands on him and try not to give up the big play against him. We really just wanted to disrupt him at the line and throw off his timing. Santana Moss on if the team wanted to win the game for McNabb: I really wanted this win for him, but I did not say in all the papers that we just wanted this win for him. I thought that if we went out and played hard we would get the win for him and for ourselves. Cooley on his touchdown catch: It was a great play and one that we developed against the Eagles defense. I ran a seam route and Donovan threw a perfect pass and threw it where I was the only one that could get it. It went over the linebackers hands, and it always feels good to get a score.
You can reach Rich by email atRTandlerCSN@comcast.net.Sendhimyourquestionsforourweeklymailbagfeature.
Rich Tandler has beenfollowing the Redskins since 1966. He has written three books on theteam includingGutCheck,TheGloryDaysofCoachJoeGibbs Washington Redskins1981-1992. Fordetails on this and on Richs other available titles, visitwww.RichTandler.com.