September 28, 2011
Monday Night Football ended in heartbreak for many football fans around the region. The loss wasn’t so much surprising as it was disappointing. It should have been evident early, when they couldn’t turn a recovered ball on the 10-yard line into a touchdown. Or again when they missed a field goal due to a bad snap. Still, Skins supporters were rooting for them to take charge and prove that they were truly the “new” Redskins, the new team they’ve touted during the past two weeks. Unfortunately, the Redskins looked the same, as Rex Grossman was inconsistent and the entire offensive line was unable to make crucial third down conversions.
After Graham Gano nailed a 46-yard field goal on the Redskins’ opening drive, Dallas responded with a 41-yard field goal of their own. After going back and forth like this for the first two quarters, the teams were tied 9-9 going into the half. The three field goal score was so rare, ESPN commentators revealed that it’s only happened once before.
The field goals continued in the second half; the nine scored over the duration of the game set an NFL record. The lone touchdown of the game was scored by the Redskins. A one-yard pass to running back Tim Hightower in the third quarter gave the Skins a seven-point lead at 16-9. But Dallas’ rookie kicker Dan Bailey’s work wasn’t done as Romo and the boys set up two more field goals, shrinking the Skins’ lead to just one point. With Washington unable to score again, the Cowboys were able to get Bailey into field goal range one last time, and he nailed a 40-yarder with under 2:00 minutes to play.
Trailing 18-16, the Skins only needed one more field goal to win the game, but Grossman’s inability to hold onto the ball quickly ended their comeback attempt. Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer forced Grossman to fumble on second-and-ten; the fumble was recovered by Dallas, effectively ending the game and the Redskins’ perfect record. Though disappointing, at the end of the day the Redskins have no one to blame but themselves. The play calling was questionable at best, and the execution was subpar. It was a sloppy game culminating in a sloppy ending.
With their record having fallen to 2-1, the Skins will travel to St. Louis to face the Rams next weekend, their second away game in a row. The Rams are winless so far this season, having struggled against the Eagles, Giants and Ravens in their first three games. They put up their best effort against New York in Week 2, but a shoddy defense was unable to stop the G-men from stomping all over them for 28 points. Sunday’s matchup against the Skins is the Rams’ home opener, so they shouldn’t expect them to go down easy in front of their fans. Still, if the Redskins can’t get a “W” facing a 0-3 team, it’ll be hard to take them seriously as a playoff contender.
Although playoff hopes for the Nationals ended as soon as they began, the race to the World Series is still very much alive for other teams around the league. While division leaders such as the Yankees, Phillies and Tigers have already clinched their spots, the race for the wild card is coming down to the last few games.
Thanks to losses by both the Red Sox and the Yankees last night, the Rays have finally caught up to Boston in the American League Wild Card race. The two teams are tied, with just two games left to play. The Rays finished the season against the Yankees, while the Red Sox are just up the beltway in Baltimore for their final regular season games. Though it may seem like a cakewalk for the BoSox, their 6-3 loss to the Orioles last night was their 17th in 22 games.
The race is just as tight in the National League with the Braves holding a slim one game margin over the Cardinals for the wild card spot. Though there are only two games left, the odds are on the Cardinals’ side; they’re facing the league’s worst, the Houston Astros (56-104). The Braves are playing the league’s best, the Phillies (100-60), to close out the season. After the final Wild Card spots are filled, the players will have just a couple days to rest – the AL and NL Division Series kicks off this Friday.