With nothing to play for other than pride and their pride, the Washington Redskins put in one of their best overall performances in their Week 16 win over the Denver Broncos, 27-11, at FedEx Field. While the offense started slow, it eventually got things going and in the end, put together an impressive showing while the defense was stout throughout the contest.
That is not to say there weren’t mistakes. QB Kirk Cousins threw an interception in the end zone to after the defense had gifted his unit with a turnover. RB Samaje Perine fumbled the ball with just under five minutes left in the game. Fortunately, the Redskins got it right back when Denver WR Devontae Booker fumbled the ball on the Broncos first play from scrimmage. Even the officials tried to let Denver keep the ball even though it was clearly a fumble. But Redskins coach Jay Gruden wisely threw the challenge flag and won the call.
In analyzing this game, a couple things come to mind: 1) the Redskins are still playing hard, although they have no postseason to play for, and; 2) even with so many starters out due to injury, Washington – both offensively and defensively – is a pretty good team. The team recorded 388 total yards against a No. 1-ranked Broncos defense that simply hasn’t let teams do that to them.
That Cousins & Co. scored after two plays on a beautiful 31-yard pass to a wide-open TE Vernon Davis after the fumble recovery put an exclamation point on the fact that Cousins will have no problem getting a job next season.
This game was about a very stingy Washington defense that kept Denver out of the end zone until garbage time, good play-design and play-calling by Gruden, excellent communication on the defense and offensive execution that has been missing. Honestly, the Redskins have just enough play-makers to win when the guys put their mind to it.
What illustrates the point about the Redskins good play-calling and offensive execution is that, despite the Broncos’ offensive issues (Brock Osweiler at QB, for instance), they were playing the NFL’s No. 1 defense and, during some series, the Redskins made them look anything but that.
But again, in the first part of the game, things just weren’t happening .
Early in the game, Broncos linebacker Von Miller and Brandon Marshall had Cousins under pressure often. But he was never sacked and, after some stupid penalties and a bad snap from center Chase Roullier that became a fumble which Denver recovered, the QB showed some temper over on the sidelines. It seemed to make a difference.
Other than the one badly-thrown INT to Doctson in the end zone, Cousins was back to the signal-caller from early in the season. He threw for three touchdowns and scrambled five times and came out of the game 19 of 37 passes for 299 yards.
Other than the pass to Davis, the Michigan State product also threw a gorgeous 48-yard pass to WR Josh Doctson for a score and a 15-yarder to Jamison Crowder for a touchdown. In fact, Cousins and Crowder were "on" in this game and were impactful in the win.
Perine and fellow RB Kapri Bibbs had good games against a stingy Broncos defense, with Perine logging 74 all-purpose yards and Bibbs recording 54.
The defense was on point in this game.
New Redskins ILB Zach Vigil has been a real asset since he was thrown into the fire.
Against Denver he led the team in tackles with 14 (two assists) and a fumble recovery. OLB Ryan Kerrigan recorded two sacks as did fellow OLB Preston Smith. Those two guys and OLB Junior Galette were in Osweiler’s face the entire game.
Safety D.J. Swearinger got his fourth INT of the season and, beyond a few big running plays by Broncos RB C.J. Anderson, the defense stopped the run.
Unfortunately, the Redskins defense could have gone another week without letting the opponent score a touchdown. But they began playing prevent defense late in the fourth quarter and Denver scored a touchdown and two-point conversion to bring the score to 27-11.
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