Sixty-five seconds in pro football can sometimes last an eternity…especially when you’re clinging to a four point lead and Matthew Stafford (69% completion rate entering the game) is on the other team.  The Redskins were one turnover or fourth down stop away from heading to London 5-2 (with a 4-1 NFC record and in possession of the head to head tiebreaker against a Wild Card contender)…instead they say goodbye to their four game winning streak and face the possibility of coming back from England a .500 team.

Captain Kirk- the face of the franchise threw for 301 yards and a touchdown while running for another score.  Both TD’s came in the fourth quarter.  That is what you want from your quarterback.  The ill-advised handoff when he stumbled?  Not what you want to see.  After seven games, Cousins ranks 7th in the NFL in passing yards per game, 11th in touchdown passes and 17th in passer rating.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent: “The Cloud Minders”- somehow Kirk does what he can for labor relations in a mining colony.  There’s even a city in the clouds (albeit not as cool as Bespin).

Run and Fumble- one week after pounding out 230 yards against Philadelphia…the aptly titled Triple Back Attack (copyright pending) gained 115 yards on 26 carries.  Chris Thompson was the top threat (73 yards rushing but also with 7 catches) while Matt Jones gained 2.7 yards per play and fumbled inside the red zone.  Robert Kelley is known as “Fat Rob” by his teammates and coaches–his opportunities and production Sunday were a slim 4 carries for 15 yards.  Coach Jay Gruden says he spoke with Jones about the fumbling issues (3 with 2 lost this season after losing all 4 of his drops last year)…and in theory things will change.  If not, the ball-carrier will.

Crowded House…in a Tight Spot- Jermaine Crowder led the team with 7 catches for 108 yards and was the top target on third down.  With no Jordan Reed (concussion), veteran Vernon Davis stepped up with 6 grabs for 79 yards.  One almost forgot about the DeSean-Garcon duo (7 combined receptions for 57 combined yards).

Third and Awesome- you convert 60% of your third downs, you officially win the Awesome Belt.  Cousins completed 8 of 9 passes on the money down with four conversions…and Jones (3-3), Kelley (1-1) and Thompson (1-1) each moved the chains with their feet (Cousins lost a fumble on the other “running” play).  Jermaine Crowder was the top target (5 catches with 3 conversions) with Chris Thompson also getting a couple of looks (2 receptions).  Yardage breakdown:  6 of 8 on 3rd and short…2 for 2 on 3rd and medium (in between four and six yards needed)…and 1-5 on third and long.  What’s refreshing is that over 50% of the 3rd downs faced were by less than four yards.  That’s getting the job done on 1st and 2nd down.  Well executed…

So Much for Second Half Shutouts- that was a great thing the Skins had during the four game winning streak:  15 points allowed and all on field goals.  Sunday they allowed 17 after intermission and a TD drive over 49 seconds in the final minutes of the game.  Recent pickup Donte Whitner led the team with 8 total tackles while Will Compton made his usual 7 stops.  Despite being shorthanded (Josh Norman left with a concussion) the D held the Lions to 3-9 on third down…and under 400 yards for the game.  Sadly 75 of the 250 yards passing came on the final drive as the Skins just couldn’t get a stop.  On to London…

Special Teams- Tress Way averaged 43 yards per punt while Dustin Hopkins made 1-2 field goals…his 45-yard attempt hitting the left upright.  Will Blackmon returned one punt for 16 yards.  No major disasters…which is always a good thing.

Flying Flags- only FOUR penalties!  For a measly 20 yards!  That brings the team total to 51 (tied for 12th most in the league) for 392 yards (20th most in the NFL).  Sunday’s violations?  Two more false starts (Davis, Scherff) to give the Skins 14 (second most in the league), an illegal formation call (Grant) and illegal hands to the face (Hood).  The costliest penalties were the false starts that blew up their first drive of the second half:  instead of 1st and 10 at the Lions 46 the Skins were dealing with a 2nd and 13 at the 49…and eventually had to punt.

Dissecting the Division- idle Dallas (5-1) stays atop the NFC East and owns the overall #1 seed thanks to a better conference record than Minnesota.  Philadelphia (4-2) after shutting down the Vikings moves into second place in the division and 6th in the conference (losing the conference record tie-breaker with Green Bay).  The 4-3 Redskins slip to third place in the NFC East and 8th in the NFC (losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with Detroit).  Those plucky New York Giants (4-3) after two straight victories find themselves still in last place thanks to their loss to the Skins in week three…and 9th in the conference.

East is the Beast- despite the Redskins loss the NFC East remains the top quartet in the league with a composite 17-9 record.  Although watch out– the AFC West went 4-0 this weekend to improve to 17-10.  The worst four-pack?  The slumping AFC North is 10-18 and includes one team with a banged up QB (Pittsburgh), another with a fired Offensive Coordinator (Baltimore), and two more teams that can’t ride the Cavaliers-Indians coattails (Bengals and Browns).

 

 

 

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