Mike Shanahan on Redskins win over Raiders
Six observations about the Redskins’ 24-14 win over the Raiders:
1. I probably shouldn’t start off busting on Brian Orakpo, who had a solid game with two sacks and two QB hits. But with the Redskins trailing 7-0 in the first quarter he had both hands on the ball for what would have been his first career interception. He couldn’t hang on the Matt Flynn pass from the Redskins 18 and the drive stayed alive. On the next play it was Flynn to Mychal Rivera for a touchdown and the Raiders led 14-0.
2. Robert Griffin III committed a penalty that cost the Redskins a chance at a second-quarter touchdown. On second and goal at the four with the Raiders leading 14-0, he faced a jailbreak pass rush up the middle and threw the ball away while he was backpedaling. Griffin didn’t get out of the tackle box so he was flagged for intentional grounding for the sixth time in his 19 NFL games. That seems like a lot (by comparison, Tony Romo has no grounding calls in that time and Eli Manning has three) but sometimes you don’t have much of a choice and it’s either get rid of the ball and hope you don’t get the penalty or you take the sack. The loss on the play was 14 yards, setting up third and goal at the 18. Pierre Garçon almost made a spectacular dive into the end zone after catching Griffin’s short pass over the middle but his foot was just out of bounds at the seven. The Redskins had to settle for a 25-yard John Potter field goal.
3. Speaking of Garçon, his stat line didn’t look that impressive. He had six receptions for 59 yards (9.8 per catch). But Griffin certainly was glad to have him and when the Redskins needed a touchdown late in the third quarter that’s where the QB went. It was just a quick slant on third and three at the Oakland five but when Garçon lunged into the end zone the Redskins had the lead in the second half for the first time this year. Perhaps the most impressive part of the play was Garçon’s celebratory spike. He executed it with emphasis and the ball went some 25 feet in the air. Garçon has been far and away Griffin’s favorite target. He leads the team 29 receptions on the year, almost twice as many as second-place Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss, who have 15 each.
4. It’s not a coincidence that the Redskins won the turnover battle for the first time this year and won their first game. Both takeaways turned into points as David Amerson got the Redskins’ first touchdown with his second-quarter pick six and Ryan Kerrigan’s strip sack of Flynn led to the clinching TD in the fourth quarter. Even the Redskins’ one turnover didn’t end up hurting. Logan Paulsen fought for too many yards while staying upright after catching a Griffin pass and the Raiders stripped the ball and recovered. But the defense held, Sebastian Janikowski missed a field goal and the Redskins got the ball back at the Raiders 42, right where Paulsen’s fumble was recovered. Griffin’s TD pass to Garçon came eight plays later.
5. Through the first three games, Roy Helu Jr. had one rushing attempt and had caught five passes. It’s not like he was glued to the bench; Helu had played 100 snaps as the Redskins frequently found themselves in a passing situations. But Helu had mostly either stayed back in pass protection and he got infrequent looks when he did go out for passes. The Redskins, however, may need to get the ball in his hands more frequently. After Alfred Morris left with a rib injury, Helu filled in well. For the game caught two passes for 43 yards, including an improvised route where Griffin rolled out and hit him on the move, allowing Helu to hurdle a would-be tackler before being brought down after a 28-yard game. On the next play he dashed for 14 yards and the clinching TD. It would probably be good for Kyle Shanahan to figure out a way to get the ball in Helu’s hands a bit more often, although they have to be careful to let Morris get sufficient work at the same time.
6. Brandon Meriweather had a pretty good day in his second full game with the Redskins. He had five tackles including one in the second quarter that got lost because of what happened after it. On third and two at the Oakland 27, Flynn flipped a short pass out to Rashad Jennings, who caught it just short of the first down line. Meriweather flashed in and, perhaps seeing the safety, Jennings bobbled the ball just a little bit. The defender made a sure tackle right there and it was fourth down and inches. The Raiders lined up to punt but they changed their formation (where was the time out, Shanahan?) and faked it, gaining 19 yards. Oakland couldn’t keep the drive going and ended up punting anyway.