Redskins Come From Behind, Win 22-21


Aug 8, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) throws for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins found themselves down 21-14 with minutes remaining in the game Thursday night, but thanks to a Pat White touchdown and then two-point conversion, the Redskins walked away 22-21 winners in Nashville, extending their win streak over the Titans in preseason to five games.

Is there a QB controversy brewing in Washington? Obviously not, but Kirk Cousins continues to make a stance why he can be a starter in the NFL. He finished Thursday night’s game with a 137.2 QB rating after going 6 of 7 for 52 yards and a touchdown.

Cousins continued to impress by fitting the ball into tight areas and throwing it over the right shoulder of his receiver to keep the ball out of defenders reach. Though only in for such a short period of time (compared to Locker who played nearly three times as long), Cousins proved yet again he can run the offense effectively to scoring drives.

Rex Grossman at times was Rex Grossman, overthrowing his receivers, nearly throwing interceptions, and all-around looking bad. Other times however he looked great. Hitting receivers right in the numbers (though they didn’t haul them in), and fitting the ball into tight places. He also ended the night with a touchdown and 119 yards (11/21).

Pat White however is who Redskins fans will remember, as he brought the pistol formation into the game late, and ultimately lead the team back to a win. The problem White has is he did it against players who ideally won’t make the team, let alone the practice squad, which won’t help his case.

Aug 8, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Pat White (5) drops back into the pocket to pass against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at LP Field. The Redskins beat the Titans 22-21. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

There is however three more preseason games and Mike Shanahan might reward him with more playing time after seeing what he did Thursday night. The question however is if he’ll live up to that play against better talent or if he’ll find himself out of a job such as he did in Miami where he threw five times and had zero completions in 2009.

Regardless, what he did Thursday should have bought him more time, as he extended plays by using his legs, ultimately leading to his rushing touchdown, and then winning it by doing the exact same thing with a two point conversion pass to Emmanuel Ogbuehi (who did what most receivers have failed to do the past couple of seasons by coming back to the QB under pressure).

Roy Helu struggled early with the stretch play, which hasn’t always been a friend of his, but as the game progressed he continued to pick up yards and was a main contributor late in the first half as the Redskins tied the game 14-14. Helu finished the night with 13 carries for 57 yards, his longest coming on a 13 yard carry.

With the way Helu performed, it will be tough for rookie Chris Thompson to make the starting roster unless he manages to play during the Steelers game as well as the remaining two games following. If he can, he’s going to need to impress Mike Shanahan the same way Alfred Morris did last year, which needless to say will be hard after coming off an ACL injury.

While Helu was given the “player of the game” award from CSN Washington, the brighter running back might have been Evan Royster, who ran one more time than Helu, yet managed to contribute five more yards, while having a long of 15.

Aug 8, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu Jr (29) carries the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Though nothing spectacular or even eye-opening, the fact is Evan Royster is continuing to show he can start in the lineup, even if he isn’t as quick as Helu or Morris. He is however a near perfectionist when it comes to the cutback, which is the key to Mike Shanahan’s offense.

Joshua Morgan led all receivers with 39 yards (a long of 20), but it was Leonard Hankerson who would bring in the only receiving touchdown for wide receivers, an eight-yard screen pass which resulted in him diving over three players (two Redskins) for the score.

Fred Davis would also haul in a touchdown from Kirk Cousins early in the game, and like clockwork would be given a 15-yard penalty for an excessive celebration in the end zone — something which looked like a different version of Barry Cofield’s infamous tazer dance.

Donte Stallworth might have shined the brightest out of all receivers, when he hauled in two catches for 33 yards (one off an 18 yard reception, the other off a 15). He however would leave the game with a pulled hamstring, which might be the last thing he wanted to hear as he’s on the bubble. With receivers like Lance Lewis and Nick Williams who both showed signs of being contributors (though dropping the ball), the Redskins might go with a younger, healthier player.

Aug 8, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (85) leaps over the goal line for a touchdown against Tennessee Titans strong safety Al Afalava (38) during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Niles Paul was given a chance to return the ball during the beginning of the game, but as his rep was last year, managed to only make it four yards past the 20 yard line (last year he averaged 21 yards per return). If Niles Paul expects to make the team, he’s going to need to do something special on Special Teams, unless his play at tight end improves drastically. He did have quite a few impressive blocks during the game, but only had a reception of three yards.

While the offense lived up to their expectations, the defense didn’t, at least not to the level fans would have liked. They did improve since last season, but needless to say drastic improvements were not seen. The team failed to tackle properly, allowing second and third chances for running backs (a few times extending drives).

They also overran plays more than what is expected by professional players. Brian Orakpo did it early in the game, leading to a Chris Johnson 58-yard touchdown run. Bacarri Rambo also got completely fooled on the run, but as we all know, Johnson is no stranger to the big run and he welcomed Rambo to the NFL by breaking his ankles on his way to the run.

Aug 8, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Washington Redskins cornerback Richard Crawford (20) goes for the interception against Tennessee Titans wide receiver Michael Preston (14) during the second half at LP Field. Washington won 22-21. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

That wouldn’t be Rambo’s only mistake of the night, as he would take a foolish penalty after Shonn Greene would rush the ball in for a 19-yard touchdown. Though the penalty seemed more out of frustration than anything, Rambo must learn to control his anger, much like Davis and his touchdown celebrations.

The Redskins drew 11 penalties for 89 yards, which is four more than their 2012 total of seven per game. Not to mention 31 more yards than their average of 58 (2012).

Besides Orakpo’s mistake of over pursing on the Chris Johnson play, ended up having a rather positive night, along with teammate Ryan Kerrigan, who both finished the night with a sack and brought pressure nearly every snap – something the team missed in 2012.

Rookie David Amerson proved why he was taken by the Redskins with their second-round pick, as he nearly intercepted the ball with the first pass thrown his way, while also sticking to his receiver like glue for the majority of the game. Anytime the receiver caught a ball on him, they had to earn it as was seen in one play where Amerson was physical with Britt, yet he still managed to haul in the pass which was nearly dropped.

Chase Minnifield wasn’t as bright as Amerson, but made a few deflections himself and showed some promise of what the future could hold for the Redskins with him and Amerson, who should be the future corners of the team.

Aug 8, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Michael Preston (14) collides with Washington Redskins cornerback Richard Crawford (20) in the end zone during the second half at LP Field. The Redskins beat the Titans 22-21. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Phillip Thomas was injured early in the game while tackling Greene on a play. While he left due to a shoulder and foot injury, his foot ended up being the only issue, which resulted in his absence for the remaining of the game. Reports are he has a mid-foot sprain and is currently in a walking boot.

Though Thomas should be ready for the season opener, the pressure is now put on Brandon Meriweather to stay healthy in case more time is needed, as depth is limited.

Overall the Redskins will need to work on their tackling in practice, especially the way they approach runs, as the top five run defense last year didn’t look nearly as strong Thursday night. They did however not start Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen, who were the teams main run stoppers last season.

The question is however is how strong are the Redskins at depth, considering the players behind of them seemed to struggle.

Those are some of the things that will need to be looked at closely during next week’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedExField. In the end however, the Redskins found a way to win the game while escaping with minimal injuries, and that’s the most important thing for the Redskins.