Unlikely contributors help Redskins break skid

Unlikely contributors help Redskins break skid
December 27, 2010, 1:25 am
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Sunday, December 26, 2010, 8:24 p.m.

By Ryan OHalloran
Staff writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Already without nearly half of the starting lineup he used in the season opener, the latest injury to cornerback Carlos Rogers forced Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to re-configure his game plan to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars.

During halftime Sunday, he used a black Sharpie to label several new blitzes on his play sheet that were equal parts understandable to his fill-in players, but also capable of being effective.

One final blitz of Jaguars quarterback David Garrard accomplished both feats at frigid EverBank Field.

Rushing six, Chris Wilson and Rocky McIntosh were able to hurry Garrard into an underthrown pass that was intercepted by cornerback-turned-safety Kevin Barnes, who returned it to the Jaguars 14-yard line.

Four plays later, 2 minutes, 42 seconds into extra time, Graham Ganos 31-yard field goal gave the Redskins a 20-17 win that broke a four-game losing streak.

I was just basically calling guys by their jersey number because you didnt know all of their names, linebacker London Fletcher said. It says something about the character of this football team. Obviously, we would love to be battling for a playoff spot right now but were not. But that doesnt mean were going to lay down for anybody.

Barnes, who was responsible for two bad plays that contributed to 10 Jaguars points (including whiffing on Garrards 20-yard touchdown run), started opposite tight end Marcedes Lewis on the Redskins right side. At the snap, he trailed Lewis across the field, noticed the pressure and undercut the route for his first career interception.

Its definitely special my first start, the coaches trusted me to play a position I never played a lot before and we came out victorious, Barnes said.

Said Garrard: In hindsight, you wish you could hold on to it and not throw that pick.

The coaches had little choice but to play Barnes. Three defensive linemen went on injured reserve during the week, and linebacker Brian Orakpo and safeties Reed Doughty and Kareem Moore were inactive due to injury.

Thus Haslett devised a game plan that called for simplified calls on first and second down, allowing the new starters and role players to get drilled in at least several third-down concepts.

The Redskins sacked Garrard four times and the two takeaways led to 10 points.

They got a sack from Rob Jackson, elevated from the practice squad earlier this week.

They got an interception and 38-yard yard return from noted drops-man Carlos Rogers.

They got a half-sack and sack from Jeremy Jarmon and Adam Carriker, last seen by teammates arguing in the weight room.

And they got serviceable play from safety Macho Harris, who wasnt even on the team at midseason.

In the NFL, its all about getting your opportunity to do business, an older guy like myself or a new guy coming from off the couch, linebacker Andre Carter said.

The Redskins (6-9) avoided a third consecutive year by themselves in the NFC East cellar, edging a game ahead of Dallas. In next weeks finale, they can help end the Giants postseason hopes.

Most importantly, the Redskins wont have to think about going 1-7 in the second half and ending the year with a five-game skid.

It doesnt matter how you get it, quarterback Rex Grossman said after his first win as the Redskins starter.

Grossman cooled off from last week, completing 19 of 39 passes for 182 yards and the offense gained only 251 yards (third-lowest total of the year).

But the Redskins avoided another stinker of a road start by leading 10-0 less than six minutes of the game, albeit on drives of 14 and 18 yards.

Brandon Banks set up Ganos 48-yard field goal with a 32-yard kickoff return and Rogers interception set up Fred Davis second touchdown catch of the year, a 1-yard toss from Grossman.

That was pretty much it for the offense, which went six punts and an interception until late in the third quarter.

But that drive to bridge the third and fourth quarters was a humdinger 14 plays (tied for second-longest of the year), 7 minutes, 50 seconds (second-longest) and 78 yards, culminating in Ryan Torains over-the-top 1-yard touchdown run to give the Redskins a 17-10 lead with 12:07 remaining.

During the drive, the Redskins ran 10 times for 34 yards and got third-and-11 and third-and-3 conversions from Grossman to Santana Moss. Torain went no gain and Grossman was incomplete from the 1-yard line to force fourth down.

Mike Shanahan didnt hesitate.

The one thing I love about Mike is that he isnt afraid to go for it on fourth down no matter what the situation is, center Casey Rabach said. Hes going to dial it up and let us try to get that first down or that touchdown.

Jacksonville answered three drives later on Garrards touchdown run with 2:44 remaining, a score that was set up by a 21-yard punt return.

The Redskins offense was unable to put the game away before Garrards scamper and they didnt need to do much in overtime after Barnes interception, running three plays to set up Gano.

Ganos winner gave the Redskins a franchise record third overtime win this year. Their six wins have been by a combined 22 points, including the last four by a field goal.

At long last, the Redskins will have their first Victory Monday since Nov. 22.

We had to find to win close games and win against good football teams, teams that are playoff contending teams, tight end Chris Cooley said. Hopefully we can learn something from this and continue to grow as a team.

Contact Ryan at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com