3 unsung plays that were essential to Week 13 win over Raiders
By Jonathan Eig
Brian Johnson’s second best kick Q4, :37, Kickoff
Of course Johnson’s field goal is what everyone is talking about. He pushed it a bit right but it was true enough, with enough power, to hold its line and take the lead late. But the game was not over, and Johnson’s subsequent kickoff was a beauty.
He did not, as he had the rest of the day, put it through the end zone. He kicked it high and had it come down right around the two-yard line. Whether he was told to do this or now, I have no idea, but it worked out perfectly.
Peyton Barber could not let the kick hit the ground and take a chance on a crazy bounce. He had to field it and return it. He advanced the ball to the 25. It cost the Raiders six seconds. A touchback would have resulted in the ball also on the 25, and Las Vegas would have had more time.
I realize teams are afraid of a big return in that situation. But unless the other team has a dynamic returner, they should be. Time is the premium commodity at that point. You should have confidence that your coverage team can hold the returner, as happens on the overwhelming majority of kickoff returns in the NFL.
You think those six seconds didn’t mean anything? Vegas ended up with the ball on their own 43 with 2 seconds left. They were forced to throw a Hail Mary at that point. If they had eight seconds, Derek Carr would have attempted a long out – probably to Hunter Renfrow, who ran free all day. A fifteen-yard out would have given Daniel Carlson – an excellent kicker – a shot at a 60-yard game winner. Odds are he wouldn’t have made it, but I’m glad we will never know.
There are plenty of other unsung plays you can point to. You can also talk about how Washington got a break on an iffy penalty on Johnathan Abrams to keep a drive alive, or how Trevon Moehrig dropped a game-winning interception. You can talk about the fact that the Raiders were missing their most dangerous weapon in Darren Waller and that severely restricted what they could do on offense. None of that really matters.
The Washington Football Team also had injuries and a questionable call or two. They travelled west on a short week to play a rested and desperate team that had just won a shootout against the division-leading Dallas Cowboys and came out with another win.
They did it with some big plays. And a bunch of unsung ones as well.