Week 6 Game Recap: Washington Redskins 21, Kansas City Chiefs 28
What you need to know
The Redskins were depleted because of a rash of injuries to their running back corps. Ladell Betts didnít suit up due to a groin pull, forcing the Redskins to use Rock Cartwright as their primary backup to Clinton Portis. Portis aggravated his upper shin injury and was limping most of the game, but due to Bettsí injury was forced to stay in the game and play with pain. Because of these injuries, the Redskins were forced to use the unproven Cartwright in key situations late in the game. He fumbled on a play deep in Chiefsí territory, and the fumble was returned 80 yards by Sammy Knight for a touchdown. Portis was able to gut it out and come into the game after Cartwrightís fumble, but he was clearly in pain and was used mainly in pass protection to avoid hard hits.
Santana Moss had another incredible game, catching ten passes for a career high 173 yards and two touchdowns. He actually had an opportunity to add an additional score in the first quarter, but he was tripped up in the open field. It was his highest receiving total of the year, a year in which he has caught at least four passes and gained at least 80 yards in every game. Through five games, he already has 628 yards receiving. Thatís on pace for about 2000 yards receiving on the year. He once again put his phenomenal speed on display, turning a short screen on second and 19 into an 80 yard touchdown, flying past every defender at what seemed like warp speed.
The Redskins continued to have trouble with their turnovers; giving away three while not forcing any themselves. For a ball-control team, their turnover ratio coupled with sometimes shoddy special teams play could spell trouble if it continues. Through five games the Redskins have a turnover margin of negative eight, with seven fumbles and three interceptions given away, and only one fumble and one interception taken away. On this day it was the fumbles that killed them. Brunell fumbled twice, the first time on a sack and the second as he was trying to gain yardage with his feet on third and long. The aforementioned Cartwright fumble proved to be the margin of victory. Brunell was hit all day long by pass rushers, so those fumbles would have come eventually. What has to be disturbing to coaches, though, is the Redskinsí startling propensity to muff sure interceptions on defense. There were at least three occasions against the Chiefs where a defender had a reasonable shot at intercepting a pass. None of the turnover opportunities were converted.
Yet again, the Redskins had trouble with a running back once he got to the outside. Last week it was Tatum Bell with his two long runs, this week it was Priest Holmes on repeated screen passes. The Redskins defense seems to have trouble with downfield offensive linemen; they canít seem to get off the blocker or even move at all. Carlos Rogers, however, did well tackling the runner when they came to him. Unfortunately most of the screen passes, including the long one Holmes broke for a touchdown, were thrown to the opposite field of Rogers.
The oft-discussed Chiefsí running back situation remained unchanged Sunday, despite many rumors that it would change during the bye week. Priest Holmes started the game and played for two series before being replaced by Larry Johnson for one. Holmes also left the game for one play after gaining 22 yards on a catch, returning to score his first touchdown on the subsequent play. The offense was called differently depending on which back was playing, at least. When Holmes was playing, screens, offensive line pulls, and short yardage dives were called. With Larry Johnson, the play calling seemed much simpler, generally just a run behind the left or right guard. Larry Johnson did nix his bad fumbling habit, securing the ball well after losing a fumble in two consecutive games for the first time in his career.
The return of Willie Roaf allowed the Chiefs to use Tony Gonzalez more as a passing threat and less as a blocker. Through the first four games, Gonzalez had received an average of six targets per game. He received eight against the Redskins, and likely would have gotten more looks if the Chiefs hadnít been running out the clock in the fourth quarter. Runs to the left side, as well as pass protection from the left, were noticeably improved. The Redskins broke from the trend of covering Gonzalez with a cornerback, instead locking Marcus Washington on him. Washington received help from safeties over the top, but on intermediate routes it was generally man to man. Gonzalez wasnít able to separate from Washington effectively, but he continued to receive looks from his quarterback anyway. With his speed not what it once was, look for more teams to use linebackers on Gonzalez in upcoming games, as it worked well here.
Eddie Kennison failed to catch a pass for the first time since 2001 in a game he played in. His lack of size was a problem, as the Redskins defense bracketed him low with a cornerback and high with a safety for much of the day. Instead of looking for Kennison, Trent Green looked for his other targets, particularly Priest Holmes and Marc Boerigter. Boerigter provided Green with a tall target and was able to convert a key third down as well as their two point conversion. Holmes was moved outside on screen passes and dumps and was effective. Samie Parker rebounded well from his series of disappointing games, and appeared to have stopped dropping the ball before getting injured in the third quarter.
The Chiefs defense was a tale of two units in this case. The front seven performed very well, stuffing the runner, rushing the passer, toying with offensive linemen. Jared Allen in particular did very well, causing three sacks, two forced fumbles and recovering two fumbles as well. The secondary, on the other hand, was very bad. Dexter McCleon was penalized for defensive holding twice, one negating an interception and another extending a stalled drive. Patrick Surtain was penalized for pass interference as well. Nobody in the secondary could slow down Santana Moss, but they seemed to have a good read on the rest of the offense, nearly intercepting a few wide receiver screens intended for David Patten and James Thrash. Sammy Knight had himself a good performance though, recovering a fumble and returning it for a touchdown and also in general just hitting people hard.
What you ought to know
|QB Mark Brunell, Pass: 25 - 41 - 331 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 2 - 0|
Brunell was forced, because of the ineffectiveness of the running game, to throw 41 times in this game, and was moderately successful. For the second consecutive week he surpassed 300 yards passing, after only doing that once in all of the 2004 season. He was most effective rolling out to his left, and the Redskins continued to employ this even after it became obvious the defense was cheating to that side. Both of Brunellís touchdown passes inside the red zone, in fact, came on rollout passes to the left. For most of the game, Brunell was able to mix his throws among his two favorite receivers, Santana Moss and Chris Cooley, and was able to effectively move the ball. His main problem was in securing the football. Brunellís fumble on the Redskinsí first possession killed a 13 play drive. He also fumbled later on in the first half attempting to run for a first down, failing to secure the ball in the open field. Brunell had a chance to tie the game on a last gasp heave to Santana Moss with under 30 seconds left, but at the last second the pass was tipped away by Sammy Knight.
Portis played injured most of the afternoon, clearly suffering a recurrence from the same shin contusion that bothered him week five in Denver. The running room was limited, and Portisí best run was only for 13 yards, and in fact that came on the first play of the game. Portis was able to find some room underneath and in the flat, gaining more yards receiving (51) than he had previously in any game this year. Portisí struggles in the red zone continued, as he labored to gain any yards up the middle. He performed well in pass protection for the most part, enabling Mark Brunell to find open receivers. His yards per carry dipped below four for the third time in five games this season.
Cartwright saw time as Clinton Portisí top backup because of an injury to Ladell Betts. He hadnít carried the ball all season, and his rust showed when he fumbled the ball deep in Chiefsí territory. The fumble was picked up by Sammy Knight and returned for a touchdown. He played sparingly following that costly gaffe.
Moss was open all afternoon and was the clear focus of the Redskinsí passing attack. He caught two touchdowns on two decidedly different plays, displaying his versatility. His first touchdown came on a rollout by Brunell to the left, a play type that the Redskins have employed often this year. Moss found a hole in between three defenders for the score. Mossí second touchdown came on a second and 19 play in the second half after a sack on first down. A short screen to the left was transformed into an 80 yard romp because of Mossí blazing speed. Moss was able to outrun every member of the Chiefs secondary, each of which appeared at one point to have the angle on him. Moss also had an opportunity to catch a third touchdown on the Redskinsí first drive on another short screen, but was tripped up in the open field.
|WR James Thrash, Rush: 1 - 8 - 0, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (5 targets)|
Thrash was used, as usual, as a sure handed target on third and long. He was also used on an end around. Thrash was the primary kick and punt returner as well.
Patten was a secondary target. Used mostly on hot routes, short hitches and wide receiver screens, the team has showed a strange reluctance to throw to him down the field at all. The Chiefs were able to pick up on this and didnít respect Patten deep at all, often jumping the hitches and screens and coming close to intercepting them.
Cooley was, like always, used in shifts out of the backfield and into the backfield. He was a secondary target to Santana Moss. After catching the pass, Cooley was very tough to bring down, often carrying two or three defenders with him before falling to the turf. He left the game briefly after being shaken up by a vicious hit from Sammy Knight in the fourth quarter, but he would return. On the Redskinsí third touchdown drive, Cooley was able to get open in the end zone on a rollout to the left by Brunell, and he wound up with his second touchdown reception in as many games. In the last two games, Cooley has combined to catch 14 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
Sellers was used sparingly and saw his streak of two straight games with a touchdown catch come to an end. When Chris Cooley got dinged up early in the fourth quarter Sellers came into the game, but was used mainly as a blocking fullback.
Royal was in the game as a blocking tight end. He didnít catch a pass.
Novak didnít attempt a field goal and hit all three extra points he attempted.
The Redskins allowed only three yards per rush against a very good running team in the Chiefs. Both Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes struggled to find holes, although Holmes did score a rushing touchdown. However, the defense failed to recover any fumbles to help alter one of the worst turnover differentials in the league. Cornelius Griffin had a great day before leaving with a back injury in the fourth quarter, recording seven tackles and a sack from his defensive tackle position. Marcus Washington chipped in with seven tackles and an assist himself. Continuing his personal saga, LaVar Arrington did not play for the second consecutive game.
The secondary, without starters Shawn Springs and Ryan Clark, held up quite well. Neither Tony Gonzalez or Eddie Kennison had any catches in the first half, and in fact Kennison didnít record a catch for the entire game. Breaking a trend other Chiefsí opponents have started, the Redskins chose not to cover Gonzalez with a cornerback, instead using Marcus Washington in coverage. He was very effective, as Gonzalez contributed little in the passing game. The Redskins had a number of opportunities to intercept errant Trent Green passes but dropped or misplayed them all. Sean Taylor and Carlos Rogers led the secondary with five tackles each. Taylor also forced a fumble that the Chiefs recovered.
|QB Trent Green, Pass: 15 - 25 - 181 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 25 - 0|
Green didnít have a very good game statistically, but he did well in key situations. He led his team down the field on their first two drives, unfortunately stalling out in the red zone. Green had trouble getting the ball to his receivers, in fact never connecting with Eddie Kennison at all. In an attempt to get Tony Gonzalez more involved in the offense, Green targeted him even when he was bracketed by two defenders. With the Redskins blitzing most of the game, Green was forced to move around more than he typically does. On one play in particular Green showed tremendous strength, slipping five tackles while at the same time getting outside the pocket enough to throw the ball away. With Kennison and Gonzalez all but neutralized, Green was forced to lean on his other receivers for support, and he did so to moderate effectiveness. Marc Boerigter, Dante Hall, and Samie Parker produced six catches for 70 yards between them. Screen and dump passes to Priest Holmes were Greenís best option, though, as the Redskins tend to have problems tackling ball carriers on the outside.
|RB Priest Holmes, Rush: 14 - 18 - 1, Rec: 5 - 100 - 1 (6 targets)|
Holmes had a strange day, gaining 100 yards receiving but only 18 yards rushing. The running lanes werenít there for Holmes, but he was generally able to make something out of nothing. His total of 18 yards rushing is deceptive, as he lost ten yards on one carry and six yards on another. On each loss, he attempted to reverse fields when no yardage was available initially, and was chased down behind the line of scrimmage by linebackers. Holmes did very well catching the ball though, setting up for screens, laying low over the middle, or running out to the flat. He had a spectacular 60 yard touchdown reception on a short screen in the fourth quarter. After catching the pass, he worked his way past defenders across the middle of the field, and was able to outrun everyone to the end zone. Holmes also had a rushing touchdown earlier in the day on a sweep left. He almost turned the ball over late after a crushing blow from Sean Taylor, but luckily Tony Gonzalez was able to recover the fumble.
Johnson, despite rumors to the contrary, maintained his presence as an every third drive player, and also came in for Holmes to give him a breather. He had more rushing yards than his counterpart but wasnít as effective in the receiving game. Late in the contest, with his team attempting to run down the clock, Dick Vermeil showed faith in Johnson to secure the football despite two consecutive games with a fumble lost in weeks three and four. Johnson did well, avoiding the fumble against a defense clearly trying to force it.
Richardson was targeted one time on an incomplete pass. He was used mainly as a blocking fullback on running plays.
Parker caught the first pass of the game and, all told, the young player played well. He did not drop the ball as he had in the past. Unfortunately, he injured his knee attempting to catch a low pass in the third quarter and would not return.
Hall was used sparingly in the passing game as is usual, but he performed well when he was in. His returning skills, however, were stymied all day as he failed to break any big runs.
Boerigter was Trent Greenís favorite wide out, most likely because of his height. His first catch came on a two point conversion early in the fourth quarter. He was able to use his body to create separation on his two catches. He was also able to draw a key pass interference penalty late in the game to extend a clock-draining drive.
Kennison did not catch a pass despite starting the game and playing its entirety. It was his first game played without a reception since 2001 when he was a member of the Denver Broncos. Coverage on him was mixed as he faced Walt Harris, Carlos Rogers, and Ade Jimoh at one point or another. The aggressive zone scheme employed by the redskins seemed to stymie Kennison in particular, as Trent Green looked for his tallest receivers first.
Gonzalez, whose role had been talked up all week by Chiefsí coaches, was clearly a focus of the passing attack. The Redskins knew this, however, and were able to shut him down pretty well. Despite being targeted six times in the first half, Gonzalez didnít record his first catch until the third quarter. He was mainly covered by Marcus Washington, a break from recent weeks that have seen him up against cover cornerbacks. Gonzalezís head was in the game late though, as he recovered a Priest Holmes fumble that could have given the Redskins a big break.
Dunn was used mainly as a blocking tight end on running plays. He caught the only pass thrown at him for a short gain.
Tynes hit both field goals he attempted from 20 and 38 yards, and also converted both extra point attempts.
The Chiefs limited the Redskins to 3.6 yards per rush, and also stopped the all-important big play. They created one themselves when Rock Cartwright, subbing for a banged up Clinton Portis, fumbled the ball and Sammy Knight returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. In the red zone the rush defense stiffened up dramatically, as the two and three yard gains that were available before disappeared for the Redskins. Rookie Derrick Johnson led the team in tackles with eight, along with two assists.
The secondary struggled mightily but was benefited by a fierce pass rush. Specifically, Jared Allen had the game of his life against the Redskins, recording five tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He lined up on both the right and left side and was effective regardless. His pressure created two Mark Brunell fumbles that turned into costly turnovers for the Redskins. Despite the pressure, the secondary still committed a slew of pass interference and defensive holding penalties, extending Redskinsí drives unnecessarily. Dexter McCleon was the guilty party more often than not. Patrick Surtain was generally avoided by the Redskinsí passing game as they focused on McLeon. Despite coming off a four game suspension this week, Eric Warfield was listed as inactive and didnít suit up.