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Jan. 8, 2006

Bizarro World: Redskins finding lucky touch at right time

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
The Washington Redskins threw for 41 yards Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their 120 yards of total offense was the worst output by a winning team in a playoff game. But that's the thing; they may have been the worst team to ever win in the postseason, but they won. And they won really, really ugly.

Offensively, the Redskins looked like the 2004 team we all came to hate; Mark Brunell looked like he'd never picked up a football before and Clinton Portis played like his new alter ego, "Rev. (Can't) Run."

But what was so stunning was that Washington, whom I've grown accustomed to assuming will lose, managed to overcome this ineptitude. They committed only one turnover, and were the benefactors of nearly every close call in the game. Oh yeah, and the defense was really, really good.

Before yesterday, the worst offensive output by a winning team in the playoffs was 122 yards by the Baltimore Ravens in a 2001 win at Tennessee. The Ravens won the Super Bowl that season. Just a thought.

Washington defensive coordinator/eight-million dollar man Gregg Williams looked like a bargain on Saturday. Even though the Bucs had more yards than the Redskins, they also committed two more turnovers. In the playoffs, whoever takes the ball away more will probably win the game.

LaVar Arrington's interception and Sean Taylor's fumble for a touchdown were the two best offensive plays of the night for Washington, only they came from the defense. Those two quick scores for the Redskins did a great job of masking the fact that Washington couldn't move the ball at all.

Most of Brunell's 15 passes were either wide, short or long. Portis and Ladell Betts looked like they were trying to run head-on into oncoming Beltway traffic.

But even though they were clearly over-matched physically, the Redskins backfield clearly won the game mentally. Because they only turned the ball over once, Tampa Bay was forced to string together long drives every possession, and Washington's defense didn't let that happen.

To be fair, though, Washington wanted to let that game go. Antonio Brown and Chris Cooley fumbled, only to recover the ball both times. Sean Taylor was able to score only because Marcus Washington fumbled the pigskin right to him. It really came down to luck.

Washington would have lost without all the luck they got. The Buccaneers had the game tied in the fourth quarter, but Edell Sheppard dropped a touchdown pass. Chris Simms threw a perfect pass, and Sheppard flat out coughed it away. And because Tampa Bay was at home and building momentum, you know they would have won that game in overtime. But luckily, Sheppard now has eight months to think about the drop.

No team is more dangerous in the playoffs than the one who gets all the breaks. And no team is more dangerous than the one who wins games in ways that nobody can figure out.

Washington's win Saturday reminded me of Rosie O'Donnell; really ugly, confusing and frustrating, yet still really successful. I could never figure out why she was so beloved, but she was. And that's really all that matters in the scheme of things.

The Redskins can beat the Seahawks next week. Not because they beat them already in Week Three; that game was in Landover, the game next week is in Seattle. But Washington's run defense is so good that they can minimize Shaun Alexander. They're not going to force three turnovers, but they're capable of slowing, if not stopping, an offense that gains 370 yards per game.

But a win will require the offense to show up. And if the Redskins play the same heady football that they did against Tampa Bay, they will undoubtedly get more than 120 yards. They just have to avoid committing turnovers.

Also, remember that Seattle chokes every year in the playoffs. Last year, like this season, the Seahawks went 8-0 at home and played their first playoff game at their place. Against the 8-8 St. Louis Rams, Seattle had seven dropped passes, and became the first team ever to lose a postseason game to a .500 ball club. In fact, Seattle hasn't won a playoff game in 22 years.

Usually, basing a strategy around luck, history and no offense won't win you many games. But hey, it worked against Tampa Bay.

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  • dont hate on January 8, 2006 at 3:45 PM
    the redskins are getting some luck back that they were deprived of for the entire tenures of Marty Schottenhimer, Steve Spurrier, Norv Turner, and Marvin Lewis. Joe Gibbs brings in a philosophly that is unbelievable. They are stepping up to the plate. GO SKINS.
  • cate on January 8, 2006 at 7:31 PM
  • carly on January 8, 2006 at 7:53 PM
    you dont have to be all ad hominem against rosie o'donnell. she is so not ugly. get sophisticated
  • clever on January 8, 2006 at 7:57 PM
    "Washington's win Saturday reminded me of Rosie O'Donnell; really ugly, confusing and frustrating, yet still really successful."

  • go skins! on January 8, 2006 at 7:57 PM
    hey man, a wins a win. if they won 3-0 i'd be happy. it's the playoffs baby all that matters is the w. go skins!!superbowl baby
  • Ravi U on January 8, 2006 at 11:43 PM
    Better lucky than good, the old cliche goes.

    Give Portis a break, the guy had like 16 carries because of his injured shoulders. If he had gotten 25, he would have broken 100...

    And basing a strategy around defense alone clearly will win you many games.

    Any word on how good Seattle's defense is?

    Ouch to Rosie..
  • to carly (most likely groff) on January 9, 2006 at 6:22 PM
    yes. yes she is. get glasses
  • jingie on January 10, 2006 at 2:02 AM
    ravi, why did u write on my arm?
  • cool on January 10, 2006 at 5:04 PM
    nice article. didn't understand half the names, would be better if the names connected better. other than that, it's aweosme.
  • Redskins! on January 11, 2006 at 12:06 AM
    Do you know what i love about the redskins this year? Every body wants them to lose! Befor the skins played Tampa Bay the skins Off. averaged almost 35 POINTS A GAME!!!! 35!!! Thats More Then Good its crazy!! So what the O had one bad game?! Give these guys a break PLEASE, just wait till we play the Seahawks and see what the skins O have in store for the hawks! So this goes out to all the writers on silver chips and all the people that r not giving the skins the respect they need after all...go ask Tampa if the skins are for real!!!

    P.S Do you guys want to know the Seahawks record when they are in the playoffs? Guess what Their 0 and 3.....some thing tells me that their record might change to 0&4 on saturday
  • Redskins! on January 11, 2006 at 12:24 AM
    Here Are Some quick facts about this week playoff that i'm sure the writers of silver chips are not aware of (I love the Silver Chips writers by the way)

    :The seahawks are 0&3 when in the 2nd round of the playoff!

    :All the teams in the second round of the playoffs have already played each other during the regular season, The same thing happened last season and guess what? The teams that won during the regular season also won in the playoffs! So.. Redskins fans have something to be happy about!

    : Seahawks MVP Shaun Alexender was held in check by the redskins D in their week 3 match up.Even though he had 98 yards on the ground about 50 of it came on one play in the 4th quarter.

    : Springrook Grad. Shawn Springs will make his 1st start since leaving the hawks in 03
  • reality snowman on January 11, 2006 at 1:52 PM
    Your lack of faith in a super bowl coach and total blindnes to a solid game plan shows that you are an incompentent sports writer.

    the redskins game plan was simple KEEP IT ON THE GROUND AND DO AWAY WITH THE TURNOVERS
  • Re: Carly on January 11, 2006 at 4:25 PM
    "Ad hominem" is a logical fallacy wherein a line of reasoning is discredited because of the source of said logic, i.e. Being a vegetarian is bad because Hitler believed in being a vegeatarian.

    What Mike employed was not ad hominem. It's basically just a simile with a zing thrown in for good measure.

    I know, I know; it's hard to be taken seriously unless you're using big words and fancy phrases. Just, you know, make sure you're using the right ones.
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