50 degrees/ 1 MPH wind
Key Decision #1:
- The story of the game was the Redskins defense and the decision to pressure QB Blaine Gabbert. Washington hit Gabbert frequently and finished with five sacks, two of those belonging to defensive end Anthony Lanier II. Lanier was a force as he also knocked down three passes.
- The Redskins, losers of four of the last five, won this game against an old NFC East foe because their defense got back on track. The Washington defense stepped up against the Cardinals after having allowed at least 30 points in their streak of four losses in their last five games. The Redskins defense teed off on Gabbert early and forced a fumble on a sack of Gabbert that led to a Redskins score in the first quarter. The pressure didn’t stop there. The Cardinals sacked Gabbert a total of five times and forced him into throwing one interception, 189 yards passing on 16 of 41 attempts. During the final minutes of the game, the Redskins defense stopped the Cardinals twice from reaching the end zone.
Key Decision #2:
- The decision to stay with Blaine Gabbert throughout the game might have cost the Cardinals a win. The offense’s lack of production with him under center wasn’t a surprise as Arizona hadn’t scored a touchdown coming into the game in six quarters. After Sunday’s game that streak is now at 10 quarters.
- The Cardinals only were able to score five field goals despite having reached the red zone six times and having won time of possession (36:16 v. 23:44). Five field goals in six red zone visits simply won’t get it done in the NFL. A change at some point during the game might have jump started the Cardinals who needed a win to stay in the NFC playoffs race.
Key Decision #3:
- At the end of the first half and with time expiring, Arizona kicked a field goal to make it a 14-9 game. The Cardinals would have had more play calling options, perhaps running the ball on this drive to end the half had they not spent two timeouts earlier in the first quarter. They might have been able to get seven points rather than three points.
Key Decision #4:
- Down 14-9 to start the second half, Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson pooched the kickoff and it was recovered by the Cardinals’ S Budda Baker. This was a bold move and Arizona took over at the Washington 22-yard line. Per Dawson the Cardinals noticed that Washington was aligned in a way that allowed the kick a chance of being recovered. Dawson would kick a 34-yard field goal to cut the lead to 14-12. This was astute coaching and player awareness.
- The Washington offense is sputtering. For the third straight game, they failed to generate over 300 yards of offense. Against Arizona, they had 218 yards from scrimmage. The Redskins rushed for 31 yards while Cousins threw for 196 on 18/26 passing and two touchdowns.
- The Redskins offensive skill positions have taken a hit due to injury. Recently signed WR Kapri Biggs stepped up for the team. He scored on a 36 yard touchdown reception and figures to play a larger role in the final two games. Players are auditioning for spots on the 2018 roster.
- The lone bright spot in the Cardinals offense on Sunday was the play of the running backs, especially in the second half. Elijaah Penny ran for 45 yards and Kerwynn Williams limited the damage that Cousins took as he was good in pass protection.
- The Redskins won despite possessing the ball for only 23:44.
- The Cardinals defense for the most part was outstanding as they stopped the run and pressured Cousins and made him uncomfortable in the pocket. The Cardinals defense created turnovers and gave them an opportunity to win the game as they got the ball back for the offense late in the game.