First quarter review is here.
Redskins fourth possession, in progress
1-10-W38 – Well here we have a problem. I failed to specify “Keep until I delete” on my TiVo so the recording got bumped and I’m having to do this off NFL Rewind. NFL Rewind, for no apparent reason, skips this play entirely. Which is irritating since Campbell was sacked by Will Witherspoon and fumbled. What went wrong? Because I’m not smart enough to operate a TiVo, I guess we’ll never know. If anyone out there still has this game recorded, please take a look at this play and let us know what happened.
Eagles fourth possession
Eagles go 3 and out and kick to make it 17-0.
Redskins fifth possession
2-7-P42 – Campbell takes the snap from shotgun. Pressure comes off both edges, and a DT beats Rabach up the middle. Portis picks him up and hits the DT hard enough to stop him completely, which not many other RBs can do. It’s Portis’ block that preserves the pocket and allows Campbell to step up and evade the outside pressure, so he hits Santana on an out from the right slot position. Santana then beats his defender and makes it to the 29.
2-4-P23 – Portis again. Stephon Heyer is once again getting manhandled and the DE is about to blow past him and blindside Campbell when Portis steps in saves the day, allowing Campbell to step up and get the ball to Randle-El in the flat. It’s only a 1 yard gain, but this play could have been a sack that, given the shakiness of our offense, may have killed the touchdown drive.
2-7-P14 – Campbell lines up in shotgun with Betts to his left and Cartwright to his right. Three receivers, so there are no tight ends on the field. Redskins sell the draw effectively, with both tackles dropping back to form a pocket and Campbell performing a convincing drop back while handing off to Cartwright. Rabach and Dockery double team the play-side DT and not only seal him to the inside but also force him back enough that he cuts off the MLBs angle, allowing Rock to make it to the hole. The other DT beats Montgomery to the inside and may have had a chance to take Rock down from behind, but Montgomery gets away with a fairly blatant hold. The other LB (they are in nickel and only have two) bites on the draw and drops back fairly deep in pass coverage – this turns out to be key. Betts is lead blocking, and because the LB is trying to recover Betts is already 3 yards past the line of scrimmage before he has to block him (which he does well) meaning Rock has built up a head of steam and has room to run when he cuts off the block. He lowers his head and runs hard through the secondary, making it to the 3 yard line.
1-G-P3 – Short yardage formation, with Davis and Yoder on the left and Lorenzo Alexander at the TE position on the right, and Sellers at FB. This is one of those plays where so many things go wrong that I can’t identify which factor was most important to its failure. On the left side of the line Dockery and Heyer try to go low to trip up the Eagles and cut off backside pursuit. The only succeed in getting to the ground, and the Eagles simply go over them. The TEs try but fail to pick up the Eagles who are running over Dockery and Heyer but fail completely and fall themselves, meaning we have four Redskins on the ground with the defense stampeding over them. Meanwhile a DT physically stuffs Rabach into the ground while rolling over him. Montgomery can be seen at the second level – he has squared up on a LB all the way back in the end zone – which would be great except I assume he should have been blocking one of the various defenders that were four yard behind him swarming on Portis. At RT Mike Williams also ends up on the ground, but rather than a poorly executed cut block like those by Dockery and Heyer he appeared to be trying to stay up and drive his man off the ball, but ended up going to the ground in the manner of an overweight and unathletic man who has no business playing line at the NFL level. This leaves Lorenzo Alexander on the far right faced with three defenders. He decides to try to kick out the outside man, but this is a problem because Sellers is trying to lead Portis to the corner. Sellers ends up tripping over Alexander and therefore does not have the momentum to block one of the other defenders effectively. Portis gains 1 yards thanks to some very hard running. So in short, we have seven blockers who appear to have badly blown their assignments (Yoder, Davis, Heyer, Dockery, Rabach, Williams, Alexander, Sellers) and one more who is a maybe (Montgomery).
2-G-P2 – The Eagles rush four, and the linemen form a perfectly adequate pocket. Betts and Sellers run flat routes to the right and left respectively, and Santana, lined up to the right, does a quick hook just inside the end zone. These short routes force all seven Eagles pass defenders to stay up on the goalline, and when three defenders all react to Santana’s hook, Thomas comes wide open in the back of the end zone for an easy touchdown. 17-7.
Eagles fifth possession
1-10-P35 – McNabb hands off to LeSean McCoy out of the shotgun. The LT appears to make no effort at all to block Andre Carter – I guess his job is to block Rocky McIntosh to the outside? The problem is that the LG, instead of picking up Carter, decides to help the C with Haynesworth. Carter comes clean. Meanwhile, the LT spins to his right once he realizes that Carter is unblocked, so if his job was to pick up Rocky he doesn’t do it and that’s a second unblocked Redskin in the backfield. Griffin takes advantage of the interior line’s preoccupation with Haynesworth and Philip Daniels ability to cut off the RT who is trying to pinch him inside, so three Redskins stuff McCoy for a 3 yard loss.
2-13-P31 – Michael Vick takes the snap from shotgun. The line blocks to the left and the tailback takes a fake handoff in that direction. Rocky comes unblocked but is forced to hesitate as he almost tackles the fake ballcarrier, and by the time he recovers Vick is off in the opposite direction. But because of the hard fake to the left, no lineman is assigned to block Carter, this time line up at LDE (offensive right) – the idea is to force him to bite inside and then let Vick beat him with speed. Carter does go inside, and the TE make a little effort to give him a push in that direction before heading out to block Horton downfield, but Carter’s tremendous athleticism saves the day. Carter goes to the ground but stops himself, pops back up, and lunges after Vick to take him down from behind. And a good thing too, because the TE had Horton blocked and no other Redskin defenders were even on camera on that side of the field, so Carter may have saved a big gain.
McNabb is forced to throw a dumpoff on 3rd and long and the Eagles don’t even get close. After the Redskins touchdown and this 3 and out, all of the sudden the Eagles are on the ropes. The momentum had shifted, the crowd is loud, the defense is fired up, et cetera. And then Randle-El lets the ensuing punt bounce off his facemask. Eagles ball at the 25. I cannot imagine a more devastating mistake. If you’re a defensive player, how disheartened do you have to be after making a critical stop to get your team right back in the game, only to have to trot right out back there – this time deep in your own territory?
1-10-W25 – Fortunately the real Redskins defense absorbs the blow better than I would have. Carter blows past the left tackle and Golston stunts to the outside and gives McNabb nowhere to run. McNabb is able to get the throw out despite getting hit in the back by Carter, but his only option is a rushed pass to the FB at the line of scrimmage, who is immediately swarmed by Redskin defenders (featuring the once-weekly solid tackle from DeAngelo Hall).
2-9-W24 – McNabb lines up at WR, and LeSean McCoy takes the direct snap. Chris Wilson sifts through the blockers and stuffs him in the backfield. Instead of being psychologically devastated, the defense came out mean.
3-11-W26 – Haynesworth is immediately chop blocked, but goes over the blocker and keeps himself off the ground with his hand. Without time to regain his footing, he pushes of with his hands and keeps crawling towards McNabb in a manner that reminded me of the Terminator relentlessly coming after you even after you blow off his legs. This forces the C to come over and lay on top of Haynesworth to keep him down, which means the C is unavailable to pick up Orakpo when he stunts to the inside. Orakpo doesn’t have time to get all the way to McNabb but he does manage to fill the passing lane, which forces McNabb to throw behind his receiver downfield. Too bad Haynesworth quit trying after cashing his paycheck, eh?
Eagles kick to make it 20-7.
Redskins sixth possession
2-10-W23 – Santana Moss runs a slant and go. The corner bites hard – hard – on the fake slant, but for unclear reasons after pump faking Campbell comes off of Santana as he is streaking wide open down the sideline available for an incredibly easy touchdown. Instead Campbell inexplicably switches to Randel-El over the middle, but throws behind him despite the fact that ARE is wide open and there is no significant pressure. Once again, the line is not the only problem.
3-10-W23 – Not much to really break down about this sack. Each of the Redskins OTs gets beat equally badly, and the LDE and RDE just have a race to the QB. They tie, so Campbell gets sandwiched.
Eagles sixth possession
2-18-P47 – Haynesworth rushes from RDE and ends up matched up on the TE, with predictable results. The LT turns around too late – or too late unless you cheat. Haynesworth has a lot of forward momentum going, and when the LT turns around to try to bail out the TE he hits Haynesworth square in the back – no ambiguity here – and gives him a good hard shove that makes it impossible for Haynesworth to change directions and sack McNabb. This has been happening all year – apparently when blocking Haynesworth you’re allowed to hold, trip, block in the back, or anything. Given that no rules apply to the men blocking him, it’s even more impressive what an impact Haynesworth has made. Fortunately Doughty blitzes from the opposite side and the RBs attempted block on him is not exactly Portis-like, so Doughty makes the sack.
The defense is continuing to play out of their minds. Until…
3-22-P43 – Redskins run some stunts but the Eagles are able to more or less absorb the rush by keeping in 8 blockers. DeSean Jackson starts downfield, then fakes a cut to the inside, badly fooling both Carlos Rogers (who had him man to man) and Chris Horton (who was late getting deep because of it). Justin Tryon was playing shallow and although he was looking into the backfield he also came inside to cover the crossing route, which leds me to believe that McNabb did an expert job of faking the DBs with his eyes. Jackson, of course, turns it back upfield and is wide open for a touchdown bomb. 27-7.
Redskins seventh possession
1-10-W32 (1:41 remaining in half) – Redskins run a screen to Betts and he ends up with both Dockery and Rabach set up nicely in front of him. Meanwhile Fred Davis doesn’t land a crushing block but manages to cut off the angle to two lackadaisical DBs, so Betts is able to gain 9.
3-16-W36 (:28 remaining) – Pocket faces pressure but holds up for a few seconds before the pressure comes up the middle. Campbell is able to step to the outside while keeping his eyes downfield and fires a strike to Fred Davis at the 48, and he turns upfield and gets the first down without dramatically trying to leap over anybody for once.
Redskins get in field goal range due to a slant to Randle-El, and kick to make it 27-10 at halftime.