Sunday, December 26, 2010, 4:24 p.m.
By Ryan OHalloran
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Five observations from the Redskins 20-17 overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday.
1. Well that was an interesting way to end a four-game losing streak and a stretch of six losses in seven games. Kevin Barnes first career interception on the third play of overtime set up Graham Ganos 36-yard field goal. It was the Redskins record-setting third OT win of the year. The big thing it prevents us asking and them answering questions about potentially finishing the year with a 1-7 second half. They also avoid a third consecutive solo last-place in the NFC East. Plenty of warts on the win for sure, but the defense was opportunistic, setting up 10 of the 20 points.
2. Anybody who disagreed with Mike Shanahans decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the Jacksonville 1 in a 10-all game needs to think again. The Redskins are 5-9 going nowhere. Why not try for the touchdown? If the Redskins get stopped and Jacksonville drives 99 12 yards, more power to the Jaguars. If the Redskins get stopped and eventually lose the game, it improves their draft status. The drive was old school-ish with a commitment to the running game and three key third-down conversions. Shanahan wanted to reward his offense and it paid off when Torain went over the top for a touchdown.
3. Chris Cooley bounced back from one of his worst halves to finish with a productive game. A player that prides himself on catching anything that he gets at least one hand on, Cooley caught a 10-yard pass from Rex Grossman. It was a good start because Cooley went three-plus quarters against Tampa Bay and two-plus quarters against Dallas before getting involved. Things, though, went downhill quickly Cooley was unofficially credited with four dropped passes in the first half. Compare that to having only two drops in the first half of the season. Cooley had a strong second half Sunday.
4. Shanahan and the coaching staff really got a good chance to start evaluating what they have lower on the depth chart. Just in the first half, Darrion Scott and Joe Joseph (recently signed off the street) and Rob Jackson (up from the practice squad) got looks on an injury-depleted defense; this after the Redskins starting safeties were Kevin Barnes and Macho Harris. Plus, Stephon Heyer got the right tackle nod because Jammal Brown fell ill and obviously Grossman remains on audition.
5. The Redskins special teams had a nice bounce back after struggling against Dallas. The Cowboys posted punt returns of 31 and 23 yards and a kickoff return average of 22.3 yards. Jacksonville entered seventh in kick returns and ninth in punt returns but didnt have a kickoff return longer than 21 yards and a punt return longer than 8 yards. Of course, when it mattered most, Mike Thomas broke a 21-yard punt return with four minutes remaining to set up Jacksonvilles overtime-forcing touchdown.
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