Against the Rams, Redskins’ win the running game; Major League Playoffs heat up


October 5, 2011
Ceci Ferrara
Sports Writer
Sports Insider

Heading into Sunday’s game against the 0-3 Rams, there shouldn’t have been any doubt that the Redskins would walk away with a win.  Unfortunately, the Skins are notorious for breaking the losing streaks of other teams.  Last year, they faced the Rams in Week 3 and handed them their first win of the season when they lost 30-16.  In the infamous third game of the 2009 season, the Skins broke the Detroit Lions’ 19th consecutive game losing streak when they fell to them 19-14.  It was the Lions’ first regular season win since December 23, 2007, and it came at the expense of the Redskins, who ended the season 4-12 and in search of a new coach and quarterback.

There’s no doubt the Skins look better this year.  They’re 3-1, tied with the Giants for the No. 1 spot in the NFC East.  But their performance on Sunday still raised some eyebrows – and questions – as to the true strength of their offense. While running backs Tim Hightower and Roy Helu have been strong on the ground this year, Ryan Torain’s breakout performance against the Rams was a welcomed surprise.  The backup RB racked up 135 yards on 19 carries, including one touchdown.  It was a burst of nostalgia – reminiscent of a young Clinton Portis — and a reminder that in their glory days, the Redskins always depended on a strong running game.  Rex Grossman on the other hand, continued to be inconsistent.  It’s hard to have any real confidence in a QB who can throw touchdown passes one minute and a pick-six the next. The numbers don’t lie; in four games, he’s thrown six touchdowns compared with eight turnovers.  Despite this fact, don’t expect to see John Beck suiting up anytime soon – unless Grossman’s mistakes start costing the Skins games.  As they get deeper into the season, each game becomes more important – and so does the quality of the quarterback.

The Skins get to enjoy a bye this week, before facing off against the Philadelphia Eagles at home.  Having fallen to 1-3, the self-dubbed “dream team” is desperate to turn their season around and not likely to play nice.  Last year’s match-up between the two teams (which coincidentally also came after the Skins’ bye week) was nothing short of an embarrassment for Washington, who found themselves down 28-0 after the first quarter.  While they were able to score four touchdowns before it was over, it was not enough to overcome the early game deficit or the massive 59 points the Eagles scored.  If there was ever a game for the Redskins to prove that they’ve changed, it will be on October 16.


The Milwaukee Brewers, a surprise contender in their vie for the playoff, are up 2-0 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the only team to have a commanding lead over their opponent.  After a rain suspension altered Game 1 of the Yankees vs. Tigers series, the Yankees pulled out a 9-3 win on Saturday evening, but weren’t so lucky on Sunday.  After trailing 4-0 for most of the game, the Yanks were finally able to put a run on the board in the eighth inning, thanks to a solo homerun by Curtis Grandson.  But the Tigers responded with a run of their own in the top of the 9th, digging the Yankees hole deeper at 5-1.  New York’s bats finally came alive under pressure with a lead-off homer by Nick Swisher to cut Detroit’s lead to three runs.  Jorge Posada was able to score on a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3.  Yet the Yankees’ rally fell short, with their best hitter, Robinson Cano, hitting a ground ball to end the game.  The series is now tied 1-1, with the series moving to Detroit for the next two games.

Likewise, the Phillies, who ended the regular season with the best record in baseball, are tied 1-1 with the Cardinals in their division series.  After pounding the Cardinals 11-6 in Game 1, the Cardinals managed to maintain a 5-4 lead over the Phillies in Game 2, by keeping the Phillies from scoring any runs after the second inning.  While the Phillies are the heavy favorites to win not only the National League title, but also the World Series, it’s clear the Cardinals are not going down easy.

The Rangers and Rays are also tied at a game apiece going into Game 3, with the Rays getting a taste of their own medicine in Game 2, after shutting the Rangers out 9-0 in Game 1.  Although Tampa Bay was able to put six runs on the board, it wasn’t enough against Texas, who scored eight, including five in the fourth inning alone.  The Rays pitchers were to blame; they hit three batters and threw two Wild Pitches, something that hasn’t happened since the 1987 American League Division Series.  The Rays are hoping to get back into their element in Games 3 and 4, when the series moves back to Florida and gives them home field advantage.


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