It’s Monday morning and I’m re-watching Sunday’s 27-20 victory over the Eagles at Starbucks, so that must mean it’s time for our weekly glance back at Friday’s preview. How did those keys play out at Lincoln Financial Field? Let’s take a look:
1—Robert Griffin III’s knee. A week after missing his first NFL start, Griffin was sharp in warmups, but certainly did not look completely comfortable with his right knee wrapped in a cumbersome brace.
The effects of the brace were less obvious during the game, but still noticeable. In the first quarter, for example, Griffin kept the ball on an option and, as the announcer said, “gingerly” scampered to the sidelines for a five-yard gain. Griffin later said his knee was not hurting – and also took a playful shot at the pundits in the postgame news conference.
“It was just getting out of bounds,” he said. “I took what you guys said to heart and made sure I got out of bounds. Five yards is fine on any down, so …I took the liberty of taking a nice stroll to the sidelines.”
Griffin, who was limited to a season-low four yards on the ground, also acknowledged that he was slowed a bit by the heavy brace, which required the back of his pants to be trimmed to accommodate its bulk.
“Anytime you wear a brace, it’s going to restrict your motion. So from that, my mobility was down a little bit," he said. "But at the same, I was able to do everything a quarterback is supposed to do.”
With another week to allow the knee to heal, the expectation is that Griffin will be closer to full speed against the Cowboys.
“We did not do everything that we would normally do,” Coach Mike Shanahan conceded. “I did not want to put that pressure on that” knee.
2—Offensive line concerns. Before the game, there was considerable worry about the man playing right tackle – and for good reason. Second-year utility lineman Maurice Hurt was tapped to replace Tyler Polumbus, who was sidelined with a concussion. But Hurt had never started an NFL game at tackle, and had only eight starts on his resume (all at guard last season).
As it turned out, though, Hurt was more than adequate. Primarily responsible to blocking defensive end Brandon Graham, Hurt held his own. Graham had recorded four sacks the previous three games, but he was shutout against the Redskins.
“It went well for the most part,” Hurt said. “It’s a little different being out there with all that space."
Hurt’s performance also drew praise from Griffin.
“He stepped up big,” the quarterback said. “He’s been working his butt off all season waiting for his chance and he got his chance to start and he played big for us.”
3—Suddenly surging defense. A lot will be made of how little resistence Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense faced in the final minutes as they marched into scoring position.
“We let the off the hook a little bit at the end,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall acknowledged. “We kept giving up plays, and we cannot do that.”
But, as players and coaches often say, it’s infinitely easier to address mistakes after a victory.
In the end, Jim Haslett's unit used a familiar formula to the get the job done: it created turnovers at critical moments. Ryan Kerrigan forced Foles to fumble in Washington’s end in the first quarter, and the Redskins promptly parlayed it into a field goal that cut the Eagles’ lead to 7-3.
In the second quarter, London Fletcher intercepted Foles in Phildelphia’s end after Barry Cofield deflected the ball at the line of scrimmage. Five plays later, the Redskins were ahead 13-7.
During the winning streak, the defense has 12 takeaways.
“You have to get turnovers to win in this league, and [the defense] came up big when they had to,” Shanahan said. “They probably had 20-25 more plays than we did …but we took advantage of the turnovers, which negated how many plays they had.”