Image courtesy of the totally awesome Sugar Mountain Farm blog.
I knew we were in trouble when the Redskins busted out the full-length down parkas. In a cold drizzle, unremarkable for the deep north of Wisconsin's October, the Washington team was cold and they showed it.
When one team is shivering and miserable and huddled in masses, and the other team is still playing in bare arms, the true direction of the game becomes obvious. Never mind that the Redskins dominated the Packers in every statistical category. They showed weakness, and paid for it.
The Redskins dropped at least ten passes by my count. WR Santana Moss had his worst game as a Redskin with zero catches, biffing passes off his hands, fumbling away the game-winning Packers TD and finally taking a deep redeemer off his facemask.
Moss benched himself, which the coaches would have had to do anyway. He emphasized that he sat down because of tweaking his hamstring & groin, injuries which have caused him to miss the last three weeks of action. Moss says, "I would never come out of a game because I had dropped a pass or two. That's a coward. I just felt like my leg wasn't feeling well. I didn't want to be out there if I couldn't go 100 percent."
This is the difference between playing hurt and playing with an injury. Everyone plays hurt in football. Playing with an injury is a detriment to your team, as the Redskins discovered. I love Moss, but it isn't hyperbole to write that Moss and his tiny cold fingers lost the game for the Redskins. Said DT Corey Williams, who forced the fumble, "He was carrying the ball kind of wild. I just had to go for the ball."
RB Clinton Portis was ineffective behind the makeshift O-Line in the second half and fumbled on his own 10 yard line, losing his second red zone fumble in two weeks.
A shame, since the Redskins soundly beat the Packers on both sides of the ball. The Redskins outgained the Packers 94-56 on the ground and QB Jason Campbell out-performed QB Favre. Campbell completed 57% of his passes (despite numerous drops) for 217 yards, 1 INT 1 TD and one rushing TD to boot. He threw the ball well and consistently made good decisions. His only mistake of the day was the inexcusable 4th-and-2 completion for 0 yards. Despite taking a timeout, the Redskins rushed the play and Campbell immediately fired a ball to his FB in the flat. If he had read his proper progression, he would have seen Keenan McCardell wide-open on a quick slant.
Favre, by contrast, completed 51% for 188 (most coming in the form of a 1st quarter YAC), 2 INTs and 0 TDs. He chucked his record-breaking 278th INT to S Sean Taylor, and gun-slinged #279 to Taylor for good measure. It was a nice bookend to Favre's storied NFL interception career, which began with two INTs against the Redskins back in 1991.
The Redskins were unable to make anything out of the turnovers, nor were they able to recover any of the Packers four fumbles. On the other hand, the Packers turned Moss's fumble into seven points and a major shift in momentum. The Pack received some grossly unfair help from the referees.
Worse than the loss and falling behind in the IDYFT Cup is the fact that the already-gutted Redskins O-Line lost three players against the Pack, who were able to mount a consistent pass rush. The only starter from last year is Chris Samuels; from LG to RT it is 2nd and 3rd stringers.
The Packers did very little well, but CB Charles Woodson (who also had a very questionable INT that sure looked like simultaneous possession) made the game-changing play when he got the opportunity.
Next week, the 3-2 Redskins host the Cardinals and their 3rd string QB. The Defense should continue its dominance, but the O-Line is at DEFCON 1.
The Packers can feel good going into the bye week with the unlikely record of 5-1. Coach McCarthy said that the Redskins were the best team the Pack has faced so far, which tells you something about their 5-1 record. They'll travel to Denver in week 8 for MNF. The 2-3 Broncos haven't been able to score this year, but we've seen middle-pack AFC teams beating elite NFC teams for years now.
The 2-3 Vikings hope that RB A. Peterson can continue on the inside track as Rookie of the Year against Dallas. That young man certainly is talented, and remains the only spark of joy for Minnesota. I hope everyone has seen those highlights: damn, son.
The 3-2 Lions will travel to face the 2-4 Chicago Poop Smell. Field conditions will be a major factor in the outcome of this game.
The 2-3 Raiders could have a hard time in Tennessee, but the 3-2 Titans are inconsistent on offense. This could be a low-scoring affair, like Corky on a blind date.
1. Green Bay Packers (2 pts)
2. Detroit Lions (1 pt)
3. Washington Redskins (0 pts)
4. Oakland Raiders (-1 pts)
5. Minnesota Vikings (-2 pts)