Two players, one on each team, went airborne in the second half to try and reach their desired destination. One of them got there; one didn’t. Ultimately, that was the game’s deciding factor.
When Robert Griffin III leaped like a shark out of the ocean to reach the first down marker on a third-and-nine play, the Washington Redskins were all tied up with the San Diego Chargers at 14 apiece. RGIII landed awkwardly, but past the marker, and extended the Redskins drive, on which Darrell Young would score his second of three touchdowns to give the team a 21-14 lead. They don’t score if he doesn’t get that first down, and thus they probably don’t win. But he did.
Danny Woodhead didn’t. The small statured San Diego running back got the ball on a scamper to the right side of the field with his team down three, and less than a minute to go in the game. He dove for the pylon, and was about an inch away from victory when Washington CB David Amerson stonewalled him out of bounds. Initially called a touchdown, the play was reversed by the booth official and the Redskins were given new life. The next three plays from the one yard line went as follows: a Woodhead run for no gain, an incomplete pass from Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates, and an incomplete pass to . . . someone. No touchdown. The Chargers begrudgingly settled for a field goal and OT instead of instant triumph. The Redskins celebrated their new found life, both for the game and the season.
The lone overtime drive was a clinic in offensive precision by the ‘Skins. Highlighted by one of many phenomenal Pierre Garçon catches on the day, the drive took 6:09 over 10 plays, and was capped off by Young’s third score of the game. Final score: 30-24, Washington.
This was the offense that Redskins fans have yearned to see since the end of last season. It was balanced, with OC Kyle Shanahan dialing up 40 runs and 32 passes. Both were effective, as Alfred Morris racked up a season high 121 yards on the ground (as a team, the Redskins ran for a blistering 209) and RGIII passed for 291 yards through the air. They mixed in a healthy dose of the triple option, as TE Jordan Reed and WR Santana Moss got carries of 18 yards. Garçon might have been the best player on the field for either team Sunday, pulling in 7 catches for 172 yards.
Washington’s defense, while not spectacular, did what it had to do. Amerson, aside from saving the game when he knocked Woodhead out of bounds, also had an interception, as did E.J. Biggers. The front seven only got one sack on Rivers, but he was under pressure all game, and forced throws to his receivers routinely. The Chargers were also held to only 69 yards rushing after going over 100 the previous two weeks.
It wasn’t perfect (the kicking unit, to put it nicely, was an abomination yet again), but the team will gladly take the win. Up next: a 1-7 Minnesota Vikings team that seems like a win on paper, despite Adrian Peterson being the best player on the planet. Take home a victory at Mall of America Field on Thursday, and who knows? The team’s fortunes could be turning around after all.