Lost in the Euphoria of the Redskins win over the Cowboys was the fact that Dallas beat themselves as much as Washington defeated them. Asinine play calling, dumb penalties, and the coup de grace that was Alex Barron’s hold on Brian Orakpo on the very last play of the game did Dallas in.
But as the old saying goes: “turnabout is fair play.” Because this week, it was the Redskins turn to frustratingly hand over a victory to their Texan opponents, much in the same manner they received last week.
Sure, the game went into overtime and didn’t end until 2/3rd of the way through the extra period, but anyone watching the game knows that the sequence of events which took place in the 4th quarter ultimately decided the outcome of the game.
Donovan McNabb, who in my opinion had the best performance by a Redskins quarterback in over a decade, marched the Redskins down the field halfway through the 4th quarter. After McNabb rattled off a string of clutch throws to his rag-tag group of receivers, Clinton Portis began delivering body shots to a Houston defense unable to cope with the Redskins balanced attack. There is absolutely no question that the Redskins had the Texans reeling and on the ropes, one decisive blow away from putting Houston down for the count.
But on a critical third and one deep in Houston territory, Jammal Brown jumped off sides before McNabb even began his cadence, pushing the Redskins back five yards and away from a virtually certain first down rushing attempt by Portis. McNabb’s next pass for Santana Moss fell incomplete, and Graham Gano’s field goal attempt was subsequently blocked by Bernard Pollard, who got just enough of his hand on the ball to deflect it, thanks to an “olé” block from Tight End Fred Davis.
Boom, play of the game. Instead of going up two scores, the Texans are only down by a touchdown, thanks to a serious of gaffes by the Redskins. And the burgundy and gold faithful slowly began to feel that painful knot in their stomachs from the premonition of the all-too-familiar events that would follow.
Even after Houston handed the Redskins one more chance to put the game way, after a questionable short passing attempt the Texans were backed up in a 3rd and long leading to a quick three and out, the Redskins could not finish off their opponents despite victory sitting virtually on their fingertips.
McNabb’s ridiculously deep bomb to Galloway was literally centimeters away from being the type of knockout punch that would have not only sealed the victory, but perhaps changed the course of the entire season. But it just wasn’t meant to be, as it sailed right through Galloway’s hands, and the Redskins were forced, yet again, to hand the ball back to Houston. Andre Johnson’s jump ball touchdown with just over a minute left came on the subsequent drive, tying the score and putting momentum permanently in Houston’s favor.
And even then, the Redskins still found one more way to fritter away their last chance at victory. Perhaps in the cruelest twist of irony, Stephon Heyer held Mario Williams in a virtual sleeper hold – much the way Barron did to Orakpo – erasing a long first down completion to Moss that would have put the Redskins a major step closer to a potential redemptive game-winning field goal. Instead, the Redskins would have to punt the ball and watch the Texans take the game into overtime, and eventually win the game in the extra session.
That’s why this one hurts so much, even with numerous positives to be taken from the game. The Redskins were inches away from winning this game, crowning McNabb as the NFC player of the week, and announcing to the league that the team in Washington will no long dwell in the cellar of the NFC East.
Instead, they will spend this week licking their wounds, and watching film of a game what was just a fingertips length from a completely different outcome.
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