Welcome back. As always the play by play is taken directly from the official NFL game book with my commentary added beneath in its own font. Let's go -
G.Gano kicks 69 yards from WAS 30 to PHI 1. E.Hobbs to PHI 28 for 27 yards (R.Doughty).
Philadelphia Eagles at 15:00, (1st play from scrimmage 14:55)
1-10-PHI 28 (14:55) (Shotgun) M.Vick pass short right to L.McCoy to PHI 28 for no gain (L.Alexander).
The DBs and LBs are all over the multiple curl routes, so Vick has to take the dumpoff but Alexander closes quickly to prevent a gain.
2-10-PHI 28 (14:17) (Shotgun) M.Vick pass short left to L.McCoy to PHI 35 for 7 yards (R.McIntosh).
3-3-PHI 35 (13:35) M.Vick pass incomplete short left to L.McCoy.
With Vonnie Holliday inactive, Haynesworth is on the field as the one lineman – this one appears to have 4 LBs and 6 DBs (Doughty and Moore as deep safeties with Landry in the box) rather than the usual 1-5-5. This is kind of cool – Landry walks right up to the LOS across from the LG… then drops back. Then at the snap Rocky feints towards the LG while dropping into coverage, and Landry loiters about making the RG think he may be on a delayed blitz. End result is that the Gs are frozen and block nobody and the three pass rushers – Orakpo, Haynesworth, and Chris Wilson (at LOLB) all have one on one matchups. Haynesworth shoves the C aside quite easily because that’s what Haynesworth does with centers when given the opportunity and almost wraps up Vick, but Vick manages to barely slip out of his arms and escape the pocket - but he never finds a receiver and has to throw it away.
4-3-PHI 35 (13:27) S.Rocca punts 57 yards to WAS 8, Center-J.Dorenbos. B.Banks to PHI 39 for 53 yards (O.Gaither).
I am usually skeptical of returners who have the label of “home run threat” because they so often are dancers and the returns that they don’t break for big gains often turn out to be almost nothing. On a punt I think the first priority is to get the 8, 10, 12, or however many yards are available to you, and anything more is bonus – for the simple reason that first downs are hard to come by in the NFL and consistently shaving one first down off of each drive leads to significant numbers of additional points over the course of the season. But what I like about Banks is that as soon as he gets the ball he is pressing downfield. No running sideline to sideline hoping to get a huge hole. He gets that 8 or 10 yards, then once he is past that first wave of coverage guys he picks a hole and just goes – with enough elusiveness to delay contact but not so much that it impedes his progress downfield. There were two visible but uncalled blocks in the back here (Horton and Landry) and each may have played a role in getting Banks to the sideline, but honestly you can find those on almost any big return so I’m certainly not going to let them detract from my enjoyment.
Washington Redskins at 13:12
1-10-PHI 39 (13:12) S.Moss right end pushed ob at PHI 34 for 5 yards (Q.Mikell). PENALTY on PHI-Q.Mikell, Personal Foul, 15 yards, enforced at PHI 34.
I would just like to say that I am not a big fan of an end around for the first snap of the game. It’s a play that’s usually more effective if it has been set up by previous plays. I don’t get it. Nice block by Cooley to give Moss the corner. Then Moss gets horse-collared for 15 more.
1-10-PHI 19 (12:45) C.Portis left end to PHI 12 for 7 yards (E.Hobbs).
Fred Davis at LTE does a good job sealing the OLB to the inside, and Santana gets his hands on a DB to let Clinton turn the corner – then Clinton lowers his shoulder and inflicts a little pain on a cornerback before going down. But Clinton’s afraid of contact now, remember?
2-3-PHI 12 (12:08) R.Torain left end for 12 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Beautiful play – damn near brought a tear to my eye. Rabach and Lichtensteiger keep the DTs to the inside. Hicks starts at RG but swings across the back of the formation to knock the RDE to the outside – allowing Heyer to get to the second level after a chip on a DT. Heyer manhandles the MLB while Sellers leads through the hole and puts the SLB on his back. After 5 yards Torain is met by a safety, but he lowers his head and runs right through him. Then the touchdown is secured by Cooley haven gotten way downfield and perfectly squared up the last DB who could have a chance. Perfectly blocked, but still shows off the running ability of the back. If you appreciate football on an aesthetic level, then this play approaches perfection.
G.Gano extra point is GOOD, Center-N.Sundberg, Holder-J.Bidwell.
WAS 7 PHI 0, 3 plays, 39 yards, 1 penalty, 1:09 drive, 2:57 elapsed
G.Gano kicks 74 yards from WAS 30 to PHI -4. J.Calvin to PHI 17 for 21 yards (L.Alexander).
Gano’s kickoff pulls the returner towards the sideline, so there is no mystery where he is headed. By the time the opposing coverage units converge Alexander is tracking the returner. He has two blockers in front of him, but one blocks Doughty and the other gets distracted by Chris Wilson who is on Alexander’s flank. What happens next defies my meager skills of description, so it can only adequately be expressed by old-timey Batman graphics. Alexander knows he has a free shot so he lowers his shoulder and…
… returner is knocked back and to the ground. You know how after a big hit they will often run a replay and an announcer will say “Listen to this hit, folks,” but you have to strain your ears for it and it's somewhat underwhelming? Not this one – on the initial live shot the sound of the hit was audible enough to overcome the crowd noise, Joe Buck's voice, and everything. Have I mentioned I like Lorenzo Alexander?
Philadelphia Eagles at 12:03, (1st play from scrimmage 11:58)
1-10-PHI 17 (11:58) (Shotgun) M.Vick up the middle to PHI 30 for 13 yards (K.Moore; L.Landry).
This is a designed keeper for Vick after a fake handoff from shotgun. Orakpo actually plays it perfectly and keeps contain on Vick, but Vick escapes his grasp anyway just because he is so annoyingly Vickish.
1-10-PHI 30 (11:20) M.Bell left tackle to PHI 32 for 2 yards (H.Blades).
Ignore the reference to H.B. Blades in the play by play – he is not on the field for this snap. Tackle was by Golston, scorer saw 64, then read 54 off his roster. Anyway – this is in effect a four man front, although Orakpo and Carter are both standing. Carriker and Golston are the only two linemen but they are lined up where you would expect 4-3 tackles to be. Golston rides the RG’s block across down the LOS then sheds him to make the stop. Nice play.
2-8-PHI 32 (10:42) (Shotgun) L.McCoy left tackle to PHI 37 for 5 yards (R.McIntosh).
Handoff from shotgun that is initially headed up the middle –but Orakpo lets himself get too far inside and McCoy bounces out, where a few yards are secured by a DB boxing out Rogers (who doesn’t try all that hard to beat the block).
3-3-PHI 37 (10:01) (Shotgun) L.McCoy up the middle to PHI 39 for 2 yards (A.Haynesworth).
Haynesworth is again the only lineman in a 1-4-6, although Landry is basically playing LB in these so call it what you will. Landry once more looks like he’s trying to make the LG notice him, presumably to again create a Haynesworth-Center one on one in the event of a pass. But the LG is actually pulling to the right to lead for the shotgun handoff. Landry reads it well and does a good job of avoiding an attempted second level block from the RG and fills the hole, thus forcing the RB to cut right into Haynesworth's body (which is rarely productive).
4-1-PHI 39 (9:23) S.Rocca punts 55 yards to WAS 6, Center-J.Dorenbos. B.Banks to WAS 22 for 16 yards (O.Gaither). PHIR. Cooper was injured during the play. He is Out.
Washington Redskins at 9:12
1-10-WAS 22 (9:12) C.Portis right end to WAS 29 for 7 yards (S.Bradley).
Chris Cooley is seriously making me feel bad for ripping his blocking so much last year. Clearly, it was just a down year for him. Stretch play to the right. Cooley motions to RTE just before the snap, then chips the LDE – which proves to be instrumental in letting Jammal Brown get in position to keep him to the inside, then gets the OLB to the outside to open up the running lane. Credit also due to Hicks and Lichtensteiger for very good second-level blocks on the other LBs.
2-3-WAS 29 (8:38) C.Portis left end to WAS 40 for 11 yards (N.Allen).
Great downfield block by Santana – he hits the DB about a yard past the sticks, thus guaranteeing Portis the first down – then the extra gain comes primarily because Santana continues driving his man back another seven yards. Hard-blocking receivers make happy bloggers.
1-10-WAS 40 (8:02) D.McNabb pass incomplete deep left to F.Davis.
Davis was wide, wide open, but he turns inside to look for the ball. First glance at the throw made me think Davis had turned the wrong way and McNabb was expecting to hit him on the sideline, but it doesn’t really make sense given Davis’ route and that McNabb had bootlegged to the right. So this is just one of McNabb’s occasional misses.
2-10-WAS 40 (7:55) R.Torain left end pushed ob at PHI 47 for 13 yards (B.Graham).
This, on top of the earlier touchdown, was what I had been waiting for before I let myself get excited about Torain. This is a weakside run and the blocking fails – Heyer and Lichtensteiger are pushed back off the line and Rabach is unable to keep his man to the inside. But Torain sees how its developing, takes a quick step to get around a reeling Lichtensteiger, then puts on a hard cut inside of Heyer, then bursts through that elusive hole too quickly for Rabach’s man to bring him down. This was a seriously impressive display of running ability.
1-10-PHI 47 (7:28) C.Portis left end to 50 for -3 yards (T.Cole).
It’s as if my TiVo wanted to give me an immediate contrast between the two backs (my TiVo looks out for me). Heyer is badly beaten to his inside and a DB comes into the backfield as Portis is trying to make the corner. Portis tries to take on extra step back to avoid the trouble – but he is too slow. The DB gets his hands on him and is able to trip him up from behind.
2-13-50 (6:48) D.McNabb pass short left to C.Portis to PHI 36 for 14 yards (K.Coleman).
The screen setup doesn’t quite work. Heyer, Rabach, and Hicks are all blockers but someone doesn’t get where they need to be because the MLB is unblocked and closing on Portis as he receives the ball. But Portis puts a surprisingly young-looking move on the MLB, then another one to leap behind a DL who has recovered from his initial – in fact it must have taken remarkable peripheral vision to see that DL coming at him at all.
1-10-PHI 36 (6:04) R.Torain right end to PHI 36 for no gain (J.Parker).
2-10-PHI 36 (5:25) R.Torain left end ran ob at PHI 31 for 5 yards (E.Sims).
Heyer holds the corner well but it could have been more – Davis fails to keep the SLB to the inside, and Lichtensteiger never reaches the MLB.
3-5-PHI 31 (4:53) (Shotgun) D.McNabb pass deep left to C.Cooley for 31 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
So nice. From the way the secondary is aligned it is clear as soon as a DB blitzes that a LB is stuck with man coverage on Cooley. McNabb sees that immediately and know exactly where he’s going, and hits Cooley in the hands with a perfect pass that lets him keep his stride and run straight into the end zone.
G.Gano extra point is GOOD, Center-N.Sundberg, Holder-J.Bidwell.
WAS 14 PHI 0, 9 plays, 78 yards, 4:25 drive, 10:13 elapsed
G.Gano kicks 68 yards from WAS 30 to PHI 2. J.Calvin to PHI 26 for 24 yards (D.Young).
Philadelphia Eagles at 4:47, (1st play from scrimmage 4:40)
1-10-PHI 26 (4:40) (Shotgun) M.Vick pass short middle to J.Avant to PHI 31 for 5 yards (R.McIntosh).
Rocky slow to react when the WR ends up in the short middle zone.
2-5-PHI 31 (4:10) M.Vick pass short middle to L.McCoy to WAS 38 for 31 yards (L.Alexander).
McCoy takes the ball in the flat with both Rocky and Fletcher in pursuit, but puts on just a ridiculous change of direction to cut back inside and leave them both behind. Then Alexander takes a terrible angle downfield to give him a bunch more yards, but redeems himself by making a diving tackle of his ankles and saving a touchdown.
1-10-WAS 38 (3:23) M.Vick pass short right to D.Jackson to WAS 32 for 6 yards (L.Fletcher).
2-4-WAS 32 (2:42) M.Vick scrambles left end ran ob at WAS 29 for 3 yards.
I don't have much to say on this play. I just want to mention that it is just now sinking in how ridiculously cheesy that Batman thing was awhile back. But you have to forgive me, that was a hell of a hit.
3-1-WAS 29 (2:14) L.McCoy up the middle to WAS 29 for no gain (A.Haynesworth).
Haynesworth gets too high and is actually lifted out of the hole, but Orakpo blows past the TE to stuff the play.
4-1-WAS 29 (1:59) M.Vick up the middle to WAS 28 for 1 yard (L.Fletcher).
1-10-WAS 28 (1:23) (Shotgun) M.Vick pass incomplete deep middle to B.Celek.
The TE had the seam and beat Moore to the inside, but Vick just barely overthrows him – by inches. The TE misses it partly because he gets hit from behind by Moore and a PI could plausibly have been called.
2-10-WAS 28 (1:18) (Shotgun) L.McCoy left end to WAS 24 for 4 yards (K.Golston).
Carriker stand up the C and RG. The RB tries to cut it back to the left but Rogers has stayed home on that side, forcing him back up the middle.
3-6-WAS 24 (:36) (Shotgun) M.Vick scrambles up the middle to WAS 1 for 23 yards (D.Hall; K.Moore). PHI-M.Vick was injured during the play. His return is Questionable. PENALTY on PHI-M.Jean-Gilles, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at WAS 24 - No Play.
Haynesworth is the only lineman again. I like Vonnie Holliday just fine but if you’re going to be playing with one lineman, make it Haynesworth. So anyway he lines up over the RG, attacks him head on then tosses him to the side and would have a clear shot at Vick if the RG hadn’t blatantly grabbed his collar and pulled him back. So Vick is able to escape up the middle (he is also pressured by Landry who blitzes from the offensive left) then uses his speed to make it almost to the goal line before the rest of the defense closes. But when they do close, DeAngelo Hall can Kareem Moore each land a crushing blow on opposite shoulders (for the record that is a CB who people say avoids contact and a safety who is considered a weak tackler) and not only stop him short of the end zone but knock him out of the game.
3-16-WAS 34 (:06) (Shotgun) K.Kolb pass short left to J.Avant to WAS 31 for 3 yards (C.Rogers, A.Carter).
When he wants to be, Haynesworth can be absolutely relentless. He lines up in the offensive left B gap, and has Andre Carter to his outside as the only other man with his hand on the ground. Haynesworth is initially blocked by the C and LG, but he brushes the C aside then pushes past the LG’s outside shoulder. He is then picked up by the LT - while still engaged with the RG - but drives through them and forces Kolb from the pocket, and he is forced to settle for a dumpoff into the flat.
I must say… that quarter was even more fun the second time viewing it. Pretty optimistic I will be able to finish the 2nd quarter tomorrow night, so see you then.