Saturday, January 07, 2006

Joe Gibbs and the Redskins



Joe Gibbs is back. The Redskins are back. Today, for the first time in six years the Redskins played a playoff game. Maybe I should say the Redskins defense played a playoff game today as the offense struggled, totaling 120 total yards. That was the lowest offensive output ever in an NFL playoff game. How can you win when your offense is non existent? Here goes: LaVar Arrington's interception set up the Redskins first score, a 6-yard touchdown run by Clinton Portis. Sean Taylor (more on him later) returned a fumble 51 yards for another first-quarter score. The Redskins held on for a 17-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The defense was unbelievable during this game. There should be a game ball for Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams as the Bucs threw everything at the Redskins. All they could manage was a field goal and a touchdown run by Chris Simms.

While Taylor made a clutch play on his touchdown, he also showed how much of a bonehead he can be. After a key third down stop by the Redskins, Taylor and Michael Pittman were doing the typical “woofing” at one another that makes sports unwatchable at times. The next thing you saw was Pittman slapping Taylor helmet. So you’re watching the TV and thinking that’s a penalty on the Bucs, right? Nope. It was an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Redskins. Everyone in my casa, the announcers and 'Skins fans all over, is livid at the ref’s call. What we didn’t know was what Taylor did to get the shot to the helmet. He was called for spitting in the face of Pittman and was ejected from the game. There should be a suspension as this is a classless act. Expect a huge fine by the league. Way to help your already injury depleted team out Sean. These guys weren’t to be denied though as they held off two Tampa Bay scoring threats in the closing minutes, including a near catch in the end zone that could have tied the game with just less than three minutes to go.

Third down, ten with three minutes left at the Redskins 35 yard line. Bucs QB Chris Simms threw a near perfect pass to Edell Shepherd. I kept telling everyone in my house it was not a question of if Tampa Bay would score, but when. However, Shepard lost control of the ball as he was touching down in the end zone. I thought since he had both feet in and they hit the ground, the play was over. It was reviewed and the result was no TD.

So this is six straight wins now for the Redskins, who went to 11-6 with the victory and advanced to the second round next Saturday at Seattle, who are 13-3. Today’s win was a small payback for a 36-35 loss to Tampa Bay earlier in the season, a game the Bucs won on Mike Alstott's controversial 2-point conversion run with less than a minute remaining.

Today’s win also avenged their last playoff meeting, a 14-13 loss to the Bucs in January 2000.

Couple more thoughts I had during this game: ABC's announcer and former Redskin QB Joe Theismann was telling viewers that Redskins kicker John Hall's range is 46 yards tops after the Redskins chose to punt rather attempt to kick a 50 yard field goal in the first quarter. Hall later nails a 47-yard field goal that would have been good from 55 yards. I was thinking about Theismann later in the game when Redskins Punter Derrick Frost got shaken up a bit after tacking a Buc player after a punt. Who would punt if Frost couldn't go? Hall? He's been hurt off and on this year, that's why Theismann made his earlier statement about Hall's range. Maybe Mike Sellers or someone from special teams would be summoned to punt. Theismann filled in once as an emergency Punter in 1985 when they were in Chicago after regular Punter Jeff Hayes got injured in the game. Theismann’s effort for that day included a one yard shank that led to a Bears TD.

Joe Gibbs was a master today. The game was ugly but a win is a win and us fans will take it. He now has a 17-5 playoff record and I believe he is now third on the all time list for playoff victories. I keep saying it and saying it, but today felt like the ’82 playoff run all over. What was special about this day was watching it with Weena, Benjamin and my in-laws. It was fun explaining the Redskins playoff history with them as the game went along. I did have to watch the language though as the last thing I want the first words from my son to be are "$%#@&* referee".

So next Saturday the Redskins play the Seattle Seahawks, owner of the NFC’s best record at 13-3. Earlier this season on October 2, the ‘Skins and Seahawks played a OT thriller at Fed Ex Field and the Redskins won 20-17 on kicker Nick Novak’s 39 yard field goal. I expect a game similar to that one next Saturday although stopping NFL MVP Shaun Alexander will be tough. The offense needs to get their act together but we've seen this with Joe Gibbs teams before. He'll straighten it out. What has made him a Hall of Fame coach is he is one of the best at making adjustments, correcting weaknesses and getting his teams ready. Yeah, the offense stunk today but I still like the Redskins chances a lot next week. Seattle is 2-6 all time in the playoffs and hasn't won a playoff game since Ronald Reagan was President (12/22/84).

1 comment:

Nancy Bride said...

I enjoyed your run down of the Skins game. Thanks.