A Reversal Of Fortune

I’m still blown away by the comeback.

I know there are plenty of teams come back an win games in the fourth quarter, even when down by a touchdown or more. Hell, I honestly can’t think of anything more petrifying for defensive coordinators than giving the ball to Tom Brady with two minutes left in the game, whether he has three time outs or none, or Pro Browl receivers or guys they’ve just signed off the street. He’s going to score; it’s virtually inevitable.

But as a Redskins fan? That never happens to us. You watch other team’s do that in the NFL, and just shake your head, because you know that’s just not how the Redskins operate. They’re the ones giving up the late lead, not regaining it and stealing away victory from the jaws of defeat.

We haven’t been able to have that confidence about our quarterback, or our team, for the better part of two decades now. Since the Gibbs I era ended, we’ve watched this team surrender lead after lead in the second half, finding new and inventive ways to crush the collective fan base of Redskins fans with fourth quarter collapses after fourth quarter collapse.

Yeah, it’s just one game, against a team with a first year defensive coordinator and mostly UFL-caliber cornerbacks. But, we’ll take it. 2-0 is still 2-0, and as of shortly before midnight on Sunday evening, there are three teams now looking up to the Redskins in the NFC East standings.

Here’s the thing: When Larry Fitzgerald beat DeAngelo Hall on the 73 yard touchdown pass and the Cardinals went up 21-13, I knew the Redskins would score again. I wasn’t necessarily sure that they’d come back and win the game – after all, that would require a touchdown with a two point conversion just to tie the game – but I knew they’d at least make it interesting.

So, the fact that the Redskins scored a touchdown and missed the two point conversion, yet held the Cardinals to a three and out, and drove right back down the field for another (eventual game-winning) field goal? That’s just unheard of. The Redskins don’t do that. We’re used to other team’s doing that to the Redskins, and not vice versa.

The Fitzgerald touchdown actually seemed to make the Redskins finally get their heads out of their ass, because until then, it was firmly implanted so for the entire third quarter and into the fourth.

Grossman would end up converting on third down three different times – there were times when the Redskins wouldnt convert three third downs in an entire half last season – with the help of some ridiculously clutch play calls. Jabar Gaffney was wide open on his sliding, 20 yard reception on third and 10. The upback carry by Darrel Young on 3rd and 1 was gorgeous, considering the entire Cardinals defense was expecting Roy Helu to get the ball. Fred Davis, quickly becoming one of the best tight ends in the NFL, bailed out Grossman with a fantastic catch on the next 3rd and 1.

And the coup de grace? Kyle Shanahan’s playcall on 4th and 3, sending Moss on a deep corner route to the back corner of the endzone as the primary read. That, my friend, took some big ol’ cojones. Throwing the ball into the endzone on 4th and 3, when you’re down eight points and in somewhat comfortable field goal range (although, does that really exist with Graham “Russian Roulette” Gano)? Both Shanahan’s would’ve publicly tarred and feathered had the play failed and the Redskins lost. That’s the type of boneheaded play we’ve scorned previous coaches and coordinators for, and the type of play that’s cost us numerous games in the past.

Not this time. The awesomeness of Moss’ route and catch was only exceeded by the perfection of Grossman’s throw on the play.

When it looked like the Cardinals presumably had the Redskins on the ropes, the Redskins shot out a couple of jabs, softened the Cardinals guard, and landed a simply brutal haymaker that absolutely changed everything.

Even though the two point conversion attempt after the touchdown had failed, the tides had turned. The Redskins defense got the ball back for their offense – Ryan Kerrigan had just an awesome game on Sunday, getting a clutch pass deflection on 3rd down, and quickly making me forget the fact that I wanted the Redskins to draft Blaine Gabbert with the 10th overall pick – and Grossman took it from there.

And let’s not forget: even when the Redskins went up 22-21, there was just way too much time on the clock for comfort. The Cardinals only had to score a field goal, and still had a timeout. How many times have we seen mediocre quarterbacks carve up our soft, prevent defense, and move their offense right down the field for the go-ahead field goal? Yeah, I lost count too.

So when Chansi Stuckey fumbled Kevin Kolb’s pass on the first play of the drive, it was just surreal. You’re used to seeing the Redskins do that, not being the ones who benefit from it.

As the kids like to say: this team has it’s own “swag.” While the rest of the NFL was busy making fun of the fact that the Redskins were actually choosing their starting quarterback from a duo of Grossman and John Beck, they believed in what they were doing. While the typical, copycat sportswriters boldly predicted the Redskins wouldn’t win more than two or three games, given their lack of a true number one receiver or big name running back, the Redskins are showing everyone that they’ll just spread the ball around, and beat you with a little bit of everyone on the offense.

It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves in the euphoria of the victory, but there’s every opportunity for the Redskins to be 3-0 by the end of September. The Redskins have beaten the Cowboys exactly twice in the past decade when they play in Dallas, but they’ll be getting a Cowboys team with some of it’s best firepower being the walking wounded. Tony Romo has a fractured rib and a punctured lung. Felix Jones has a separated shoulder. Miles Austin pulled a hamstring, an injury that’s impossible to put a timetable on (anyone who drafted Arian Foster in their fantasy leagues should be concurring with that sentiment).

For once, it’s nice to be on the right end of good fortune. Lord knows, it was about time.


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