October 1, 2012
By Ceci Ferrara
The Redskins won—barely.
After missing three field goals earlier in the game, ex-Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff nailed one with three seconds to go, lifting the Redskins to a 24-22 victory, their first since week one.
Washington’s run game was solid, with Alfred Morris rushing for 113 yards on 21 carries, including a 39-yard touchdown run. Robert Griffin III also ran for 43 yards, but this time his numbers were more impressive in the air, going 26-for-35 for 323 yards and no interceptions.
Though Cundiff redeemed himself by kicking the winning field goal, he botched three earlier attempts, including a 31-yarder that would’ve put the Redskins up 30-19. Thankfully, he came up big when it counted.
Still, those extra points would’ve come in handy when Tampa Bay came back from a 15-point deficit (Washington led 21-6 at the half), outscoring the Redskins 16-0 in the second half up until the final seconds. It looked like the Skins had blown another lead, when Buc Connor Barth hit his third field goal, a 47-yarder with under two minutes remaining.
But Griffin came through in the clutch, completing passes to Santana Moss, Fred Davis, and Evan Royster before running for 26 yards to move the Redskins into field goal range. He effectively moved the Skins from their own 20 to the Bucs’ 26, with just 1:42 on the clock, which set up the winning field goal.
With all of Washington holding its breath, Cundiff proved that for him, the fourth time’s the charm, as his kick sailed through the uprights to give Washington the win and move them to 2-2.
The Skins will host the undefeated Falcons next Sunday, when they hope to get their first home win and deal Atlanta their first loss of the season.
Despite dropping two out of three to the Cardinals this past weekend, the Nats have reason to celebrate.
In a few short days, they will appear in the playoffs for the first time since they moved to Washington from Montreal in 2005. Not only that, but at 96-63, they are tied with the Cincinnati Reds for best record in the league and, depending on how the last few games of the season play out, could finish on top heading into the post-season.
Not bad for a team which has struggled, and failed, to break .500 the past few years.
The final series of the regular season is a surprising role reversal, with the Nats looking to clinch their first-ever division title, and the Phillies trying to finish above .500 to avoid their first losing season since 2002 (80-81).
For both, the magic number is one. At 80-79, the Phillies need to win just one of the three final games to break even. With one win, the Nats, 96-63, will clinch the N.L. East (the Braves, their closest competition, are 93-66), the franchise’s first division title in 31 years.
While some fans might have been hoping for them to clinch last night against St. Louis, Nats manager Davey Johnson put it best, saying “It’s better to clinch it at home anyway.”