First and foremost before I get into everything Redskins from yesterday I'd like to wish Redskins101's webmaster Justin Fiore a happy 87th birthday. Sure he looks young in his photo on the website but I assure you he's an old man.
Ok, on to the task at hand and all I've got to say is "How about them Redskins!" It's bee a long time since we've been this excited about the team this late in the season. At 8-6 we haven't locked down a play-off spot yet but we've at least assured ourselves that we won't finish with a losing record and aren't in the basement of the NFC East.
The work is not done though. If we want the division crown we've still have to win our last two games of the season. Next week we're at the Philadelphia Eagles and then in the season finale we host the hated Dallas Cowboys (I believe a very handsome writer said at the beginning of the season that week 17 could be a battle for the division).
Yesterday I had a bad feeling before the start of the game. The Browns, in spite of their record, are a tough team. It took last second collapses against the Eagles and Cowboys to lose those games and I knew they'd key on running back Alfred Morris and force rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins to beat them with his arm.
As the game began it looked as if my feelings of doom were correct, we couldn't run the ball and Cousins was 0-6 with an interception. I just kept looking at the Giants game and hoping for them and the Cowboys to lose so at least we wouldn't lose any ground. However Cousins came firing back going 7-7 on his next seven passing attempts and completing a bomb to Leonard Hankerson to tie the game up at seven.
Down 14-10 halftime it didn't seem that dire since 7 of those points were from an earlier INT and one yard run. In spite of being down the Redskins were in control and there was little worry that they'd lose. Once the second half began to Skins quickly jumped out to a 24-14 lead and it wasn't even close after that.
Several things were accomplished in this game. The first was that the Redskins proved to the NFL that they aren't Robert Griffin III's men in waiting. Yes Griffin is our best player but they showed that they're more then just one man and that their offense isn't some gimmick that only works with RG3.
Second, unlike the Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas the Redskins didn't let up once they had the lead. Yes they gave up that one big play but it was given up playing aggressive instead of letting the Browns march down the field while we helplessly played prevent. Defensive Coordinator Jim Haaslett kept the pressure on and for all the grief we've given him this season he called a great game on defense. Also on the offensive side of the ball Coach Mike and Kyle Shanahan didn't just run the ball three times and punt in the fourth quarter they threw for first downs and threw the ball deep for first downs. This Redskins team has learned how to win games and how to step on the throats of their opponents when they have them down.
Third, for the first time in a long long time the Redskins control their play-off destiny, win out and we win the division. Pretty simple, huh?
Lastly they've convinced much of the national media that they're a dangerous team and one that has more tricks up their sleeve then everyone first thought. The Eagles and Cowboys (who have both lost to the Skins) may say their ready for them but after seeing the offense not miss a beat without it's most dangerous weapon have to be worried. The Eagles have packed it in and don't even seem to be playing for pride at this point but the Cowboys seem to have been playing inspired since we beat them. The only difference right now between us and the Cowboys are that (with the exception of the Raven's game) we're winning games where the Cowboys seem to be escaping with wins due to errors committed by other teams. I'll give credit to the Boys for hanging in there the last two weeks against Cincy and Pittsburgh but if it weren't for mistakes committed by both opponents the NFC East would only be a two team race at this point.
Now that you've made it all the way through my recap I'm sure you're wondering what are the paths to the play-offs for the Redskins.
First off if they win out they win the Division at 10-6, that is completely do-able with only Philly and Dallas remaining on the schedule, though Dallas will be a tough, tough game.
The second scenario, if we win next week and New York, Chicago, and Minnesota all lose we clinch a play-off spot. This one isn't as steamed lined as winning the division but the Bears are in a free fall right now but they play the Arizona Cardinals next week but close out against the Lions one would think they should win out but they way they've played lately that's not guaranteed. The Giants have the Ravens next week, who like the Giants, seemingly had control over their division but seem to be in a free fall as well. But they close out against the Eagles who for all intensive purposes have pack up for the long off-season. The Vikings have the toughest road to the post season with the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers coming up, both teams still playing for play-off positioning and probably won't be resting starters.
So, seemingly if we win next week we should have at least a Wild Card spot but I want to be greedy here, I want to win out and take that momentum into the play-offs and do what the Giants and Packers have done the past two seasons and parlay that into a Lombardi Trophy. Yes I'm getting a little ahead of myself but at 3-6 I got bold and said we could win out and make the play-offs and so far that's looking pretty good, why can't I let my dream get a little bigger?
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