Every week I’m going to try to write an article to share my thoughts on a Washington Redskins game.  Sometimes I’ll start at the beginning of the game and update it as I go along.  Sometimes I’ll just sign-on after the game and give my thoughts during the aftermath.  Other times, it’ll be a mix.  My goal is for this to be an interesting (and potentially humorous) read, whether you’re reading it during the game itself, or months later.

Tonight I’m starting here in the third quarter, and I’ll be updating it as we go.

By the way, the snack of choice tonight:  Pretzel Rods by Snyders of Hanover.  I don’t know why it makes the snack taste better because I feel like I’m smoking a cigar, but it does.  (Bonus points for making me think of cigar-enjoying members of my family)

The play at the end of the first half where Romo pitched the ball to his runningback (Tashard Choice, I believe) who proceeded to fumble the ball for DeAngelo Hall to return for a touchdown was luck.  I’m happy about it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s definitely a lucky play.  Dallas never should’ve done that play, as they weren’t likely to score.

Also, tonight’s game is all the more reason for people to chill out on negativity towards DeAngelo Hall.  If you don’t like something he says, go ahead and criticize him for it.  If he misses a play that he should’ve made, just consider that he’s making a lot of plays he doesn’t get credit for, and he has been making big plays on this defense since he got here – one of the only few who can say that for this defense in the past decade – other than Sean Taylor (who I still believe would’ve been one of the Top 5 Safeties of all time had he been able to complete a full career).

Speaking of Redskins’ Safeties, LaRon Landry is a great player, but he keeps messing up on plays that 99% of the time should result in sacks.   Over pursuit, being juked, not getting a handle… come on, Landry, don’t make the Redskins think twice about drafting another guy who shares a last name with a former coach of the Dallas Cowboys.  (There are a lot of “Johnsons” out there who might be great players)

With the failed attempt to get a touchdown and then a botched snap which ruined the chance to reclaim the 3 points from the nullified Field Goal, my stomach churns.  I don’t think I would’ve advised to keep the field goal that Graham Gano kicked on a 4th & 4 because the chance to go for the additional 4 points is very tempting… but sometimes you have to feel like you just want to keep as many guaranteed points as possible, especially when you were basically gifted a touchdown earlier in the game.  Now with a Dallas touchdown a 6 point lead is only 3.  I hate momentum shifts.

How good is Devin Thomas doing at returning kickoffs?  I loved Rock Cartwright just about as much as anyone (and I wish him well in Oakland), but Thomas is making for a good return man as he’s getting the Redskins out to the 30+ yard line each time.

Stopped briefly at a commercial break as we get ready to start the fourth quarter, and the rest of this drive is important.  Get some things going and don’t give Dallas the ball back until there’s a momentum shift back in Washington’s favor.

I’ll admit that “momentum” is something of a nebulous concept which may or may not have basis in reality, but I do know that a penalty and then giving the ball back to the Cowgirls (sorry, “Cowboys”) doesn’t help pull it back in your direction.

Redskins fans should be holding their collective breath with Brian Orakpo on the ground.   If he’s injured, that would be bad.  BAD.

Orakpo is back in the game, but there were a couple decent runs from the Cowboys in the meantime.  Getting a little stressful right about 3rd & 11.  Fortuitous holding call pushes it back to 3rd & 21, and it’s lucky for the Cowboys they held Brian Orakpo on that play.  Tony Romo wouldn’t have had enough time to complete the pass over the middle.  His fantasy football owners can cry about it if they want.  Now another penalty pushes back to 26 for a first down.  Witten still gets a decent catch, not enough for a first down, and we call that a fantasy sports consolation play.  Dallas doesn’t get the first down but all the stats basically shake out the same.

It’s nice to see Anthony Armstrong get that catch and get to the first down.  If you don’t know about his struggle to get playing time in the NFL, you’ll want to know more about that.  His trip to join the Redskins is just about exactly opposite of how Albert Haynesworth got here, and I imagine if you asked people who know them both, people would say that the rest of the comparison between the much maligned Hayneworth and the feel-good-story Armstrong would continue to be a juxtaposition.  Take the good with the bad, folks.  I know it takes all kinds, and sometimes that forces us as a fans to roll with it.

Even still, I don’t think I would’ve called on him for the second-straight fade pass when the Redskins were in the Red Zone looking for a touchdown.  Cooley looked to be open on the second one.

For anyone who thinks the Redskins should drop Clinton Portis because they don’t like the fact that he talks a lot and likes to dress up to entertain the media from time to time, check out what he does on passing plays.  He’s one of the best blocking runningbacks you’ll see.

Thanks to the defense for stopping the Cowboys’ drive.  The offense is clicking with some Portis runs and a nice catch by Santana Moss, and the momentum seems to have shifted.  Let’s keep it going, the remaining 4:30 is a long time to go.

I don’t wish injury on anyone, and I hope DeMarcus Ware is alright, but if he doesn’t play the remainder of the game, that would be a huge help to Washington.  He’s not only one of the best players on the Cowboys team, but he’s one of the best at his position in the entire league.  Glad to see him sitting up, which means there’s no huge problems.

Is it me, or does it seem like Clinton Portis is rushing for much bigger chunks of yards this season as compared the the previous few?  He’s going to pass John Riggins for all time yards rushed as a Washington Redskin, and with the recent comments in the past year from Riggo, I’ll be okay with Portis getting that record.

Hey Larry Johnson, if you don’t want to run out of bounds, how about either cutting up field or just diving forward before you get to the sideline?  Keep the clock running so Dallas doesn’t get the ball back with much time remaining.  Your second attempt at that concept worked well.  Seems like the clock could’ve reached the 2 minute warning had you thought of that on the first play.

I like the call to kick a field goal instead of punting while on the short side of the field.  The 3 points are a huge help.  I know that missing the field goal would’ve been a huge blow to the Redskins’ chances of stopping Dallas from scoring again, but I don’t like the idea that they would just need a field goal to tie it.

All of these long passes that Dallas is completing scare me a bit.  I know that the defense just needs to keep them out of the end zone, but if the defense gets on its heels, stopping them once the Cowboys get to the Red Zone is going to be tough.

Ugh, two dropped interceptions on consecutive plays.  Carlos Rogers and LaRon Landry – both guys have been much maligned for their pass coverage in past seasons, each of those plays would’ve been a huge way to turn the fans favor.

And there’s the big pass that puts Dallas into the Red Zone.  If you’re going to blow coverage, why not mess up on someone other than Miles Austin?  The only worse person to leave open would’ve been Jason Witten.

I don’t care if there’s only 8 seconds left, I hate the idea that Dallas has 3 more tries.

3rd & 10, game on the line, 3 seconds left, and I’m holding my breath.

I almost threw up when Tony Romo escaped the blitz to throw the ball into the end zone, but when I heard “there’s a flag down”, I got to exhale, as once again the Cowboys offensive line has to hold Brian Orakpo to keep him from sacking Tony Romo, which he would’ve definitely done had they not held him, and the game ends with the touchdown nullified!  (Alex Barron is apparently the most penalized player of the past couple years… so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he got caught with a holding penalty.  Maybe he shouldn’t want to look so smug in his video introduction for future games… and someone should tell him that his visor should point FORWARDS)

The first Redskins / Cowboys game under Mike Shanahan is a success, albeit narrowly.

I think all in all, the rest of the Washington Redskins fans should be modestly pleased with the outcome.  Portis looked good, Brian Orakpo and the rest of the defense did great jobs, and guys are getting to show what they can do on the field regardless of when they were drafted (Anthony Armstrong, I’m looking at you on behalf of Marko Mitchell / Marcus Mason / Colt Brennan fans from years past).  Still, I would’ve liked to have seen the OFFENSE put the ball into the end zone.

On a fun / personal side note:  the Redskins are now undefeated against the Cowboys during my son’s lifetime!

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