Here's the TiVo review the first half of the Panthers loss. As always this is not a full game narrative, but a breakdown of selected plays that are in some way notable, intersting, or informative.
Panthers first possession
1-10-C19 – Another play disrupted by Albert Haynesworth. The Panthers line is flowing to the left and he blows right past the LG. He’s not quite agile enough to bring down DeAngelo Williams, but the extra time Williams wastes putting on a spin move allows Carter, Orakpo, and Golston to converge on him 5 yards in the backfield. I can’t tell for certain whether the fumble was caused by Golston’s big hit or by Orakpo reaching around to poke it out, but Haynesworth was able to out-wrestle Williams for the ball.
Redskins first possession
2-7-C10 – I’m conflicted about Portis’ role on this touchdown. The four D-linemen were swallowed up just fine, but a blitz by the MLB put pressure on Campbell. Portis initially hung back to block but apparently missed that the MLB was coming (any lapse in pass protection would be exceedingly rare for Portis) and went out into the flat. So if he’d picked up the blitz properly he wouldn’t have been available to catch the touchdown pass – but Campbell may not have needed to dump off anyway. Of course there’s no way to know for sure that another receiver would have gotten open had Portis bought Campbell enough time. Also, this is the play where Chris Samuels got the stinger that aggravated his apparently long-term spinal condition. As soon as he makes contact you see him lock up, and as the DE runs past him Samuels sinks to his knees with his arms in a clutching position in front of him. As bad as we need the offensive line to hold together, I hope they keep Samuels out until they are certain there is no risk of permanent damage. This looked like pretty scary stuff to me. On a more cheerful note, there was a lot of crowd noise after this TD from Redskins fans who either made the trip down or are holdouts from when the Carolinas were Redskins country.
Panthers second possession
1-10-C19 – A run up the middle by DeAngelo Williams. The LT ignores Carter at RE and instead tries to cut Haynesworth legs from under him. The LT is too slow getting low, so Haynesworth helps him out by putting a hand on his back and shoving him the rest of the way to the ground. This allows Haynesworth to hurtle him, grab Williams from behind, and pull him down for a 2 yard gain.
3-6-C23 – Kedric Golston grabs the center by the shoulder pads and drives him back seven yards. The C only saves Delhomme’s life by collapsing under the onslaught and letting Golston trip over him. Under this pressure, and more by Doughty and a stunting lineman whose number I could never make out, Delhomme has to make a bad throw just to get it out.
Redskins second possession
1-10-W39 – Here’s the devastating play action I miss from 2008. Line crashes left and Campbell does a good play fake before bootlegging right. But what really sells the fake is Randle-El initially cutting inside as if he’s getting in position to cut off his DBs route to Portis’ inside run, but then breaks it outside to get wide open in the flat. First down.
3-8-C37 – Campbell in shotgun. D’Anthony Batiste is utterly destroyed by a spin move from his DE. The rest of the protection holds up, but Batiste’s man gets there so fast Campbell has no chance to escape and the ball is stripped on the way down (Mike Williams falls on it).
Panthers third possession
Three and out.
Redskins third possession
1-10-W11 – Zone run to the right. Mike Williams loses the leverage battle against the DT and gets pushed back off the line. This forces Sellers and Portis to take a longer route to the edge and almost allows the backside pursuit to catch up before Portis can make it to the hole. Also Rabach does a good job of getting free of the linemen, but completely fails to pick up the MLB and instead turns around and blocks a safety who happens to be nearby.
2-4-W28 – A DT shoves Rabach to the side purely on upper body strength. Portis tries to pick him up with his usual admirable ferocity, but a DT is a DT so he can only slow him down a little. Campbell is initially able to sidestep the pressure and step up, but another pass rusher manages to go the long way around Mike Williams, then wrap back around inside and bring Campbell down for the sack. The long way around Mike Williams is a pretty good trip.
3-7-W25 – Second consecutive sack, and this one’s on Dockery. He gives up the penetration to Julius Peppers and because the play is run out of an empty backfield there are no short dump off options, and the long-developing routes don’t give Campbell anywhere to go in the little time he has.
Panthers fourth possession
1-10-C42 – Delhomme hits TE Jeff King for a first down, and Orakpo, who is in man coverage, manages to go through the entire play with his back to the QB. If he had been looking into the backfield at all there’s no way this throw would have gotten through. Mr. Blache, please just let Brian Orakpo be a DE.
2-17-C48 – Carlos Rogers comes on a corner blitz, and Delhomme goes by the book and throws it where Rogers came from. Landry came over at the snap to pick up coverage, but he just can’t match the elusive Steve Smith who curls inside to make the catch and convert 2nd and 17 to 3rd and 4.
3-4-W39 – Orakpo is back where he should be – rushing the passer. The LG and C apparently forget that Haynesworth is temporarily out of the game and double-team Lorenzo Alexander, allowing the LT to get eaten up by Orakpo’s relentless mix of speed and power. Jeremy Jarmon, again rushing from DT, also collapses in against the RG and gives Delhomme nowhere to step up, so Orakpo takes him down for the sack. I think the Redskins are going to be just fine along the defensive line for a long time to come. Late flag though – Orakpo had been lined up in the neutral zone, and the 5 yard penalty gives the Panthers a first down.
3-4-W28 – Slant to Mushin Muhammad. Justin Tryon has him man to man from the beginning and it looks like he tries to chuck him at the line, but the much bigger WR just shoves him away and easily gets the inside positioning. Tryon has played very well since being given an increased role, but just like Carlos Rogers size will always be an issue for him.
1-G-W2 – In a likely power running situation, Haynesworth is lined up at RDE with Golston and Philip Daniels in the middle. The linemen manage to get penetration and the LBs close quickly to stuff the run, but Haynesworth was out of the play. I’m not so much criticizing this so much as I’m legitimately curious what the intention was here.
2-G-W2 - Same defensive alignment, and I guess I shouldn’t question it as Golston and Daniels again prevent any push from the interior linemen and LBs converge to stuff the play.
3-G-W2 – This play almost got stuffed at the line again, but the RB was able to spin off and was incredibly close to making it into the end zone. But DeAngelo Hall, somewhat surprisingly, sticks his nose right in there and drives him back in the kind of nasty, physical play that Hall is not usually known for.
4-G-W1 – A FB dive, and while he has an ever so brief breach, Landry and Rocky McIntosh stick him at the goal line to force the fumble, which is recovered by a Panther in the end zone so it cannot be legally advanced and the play fails.
What an encouraging goal line stand. I sure hope nothing disastrous happens after this.
Redskins fourth possession
2-8-W3 – With 3 yards of cushion, there’s no way a safety should occur on a running play. Stephon Heyer gets way too high and Julius Peppers blows him off the line and penetrates to the end zone. Color commentator Brian Billick rips Mike Sellers on this play (on his note cards due to the Portis-Sellers spat from earlier in the week), saying the fullback’s responsibility on a goal line play is to punch a hole through the line rather than move laterally to try to get to the corner. But my read is that Sellers was never able to get forward momentum because Stephon Heyer was getting thrown backward into his face. If Sellers hadn’t dodged him and tried to get to the outside, I think Portis would have been flattened under Heyer’s and Sellers’ bodies and Peppers wouldn’t have even needed to tackle him.
Panthers fifth possession
1-10-W28 – Andre Carter blindsides Delhomme after blowing past the LT with a pure speed rush, and even knocks the ball out but Delhomme falls on it. The Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross is actually quite good (I wanted the Redskins to sign him this offseason but they locked him up before he hit the market), so don’t think Carter is only looking good by playing against weak blocking.
Redskins fifth possession
1-10-W21 – Portis on a counter play. No lead blocker. He first blows through a DL’s arm tackle at the LOS, then lowers his shoulder and bowls over a DB 2 yards past the line, then is finally dragged down by three defenders 4 yards after that.
1-10-W33 – D’Anthony Batiste would have been beat to the outside but Portis is there in his role as best pass blocking back in the NFL to neutralize Julius Peppers. Campbell is otherwise well protected and steps up in the pocket, then rifles a ball to Santana who is all the way down at the Panthers 45 without a defender within 5 yards of him. He’s hit from behind by a safety and the ball is jarred loose, but Cooley is there to recover it.
1-10-C43 – Another very strong play action bootleg, and Campbell gets to the outside just as Randle-El comes open at the first down line. At this point, even without Chris Samuels, it almost looked like the offense was on the verge of “clicking” again, as we’ve seen it do at isolated moments this season.
1-10-C22 – Portis runs right. Stephon Heyer initially double teams the DT with Mike Williams, and then sheds off him to get out to a LB. But Williams, who at that point has the DT directly in front of him, allows him to escape back to the outside. Meanwhile Fred Davis, who is supposed to take a DE to the outside, is literally tossed to the ground and his DE and Williams’ DT smother Portis after 2 yards.
2-8-W20 – Moss runs a deep corner to the end zone. Campbell is looking at him from the snap and knows he has one on one coverage, but the DB is tugging on Moss’ jersey in the end zone and slows him down enough for the ball to be overthrown. Moss is known for whining for a PI flag every time he misses a pass, but I think this one was totally legit and may have been a touchdown if not for the interference.
3-8-W20 – Batiste is beat one on one on the left side, and his guy would have gotten to Campbell if Batiste hadn’t collared him around the neck, for which he was subsequently flagged (declined). Meanwhile the rushers on the other side stunt. Heyer and Williams don’t get crossed up at all, but switch assignments and manage to each get beat individually even though they had an extra second or two to get set and the defenders had already sacrificed forward momentum. Campbell backpedals 10 more yards beyond where he set up in shotgun and pegs the ball at the ground for what should have been intentional grounding a loss of down all the way back outside of field goal range.
Suisham makes the kick to make it 10-2.
Panthers sixth possession
Panthers complete a few passes against soft coverage, but are forced to try Hail Mary from the 44 that is somehow thrown well to the right of the end zone.
Well, that really wasn't so bad. But God am I dreading reliving that second half. Speaking of which, I will get the second half review up soon - either Wednesday or Thursday.