October 19, 2019

Redskins 17, Rams 10: Defense dominates undermanned Rams

Ryan Kerrigan hassles Sam Bradford in Redskins 17-10 win. (photo by Brian Murphy)

Watching the first half of Sunday’s 17-10 win for the Washington Redskins over the St. Louis Rams, you would have thought the Skins were going to run away with it.  The defense was punishing Sam Bradford at every opportunity, the offense wasn’t record-setting but did run up 14 first-half points, and the Rams were… well, they were the Rams: dropped passes, ill-timed penalties, no crowd support.  If just seemed like this one was primed for a blowout.

But the Skins don’t know how to do easy.

Rex Grossman threw two fourth quarter interceptions, one that led to a scoring drive and one that gave the Rams the ball on the Redskins 19 yard line with 5:45 remaining in the game.  But as they had all day long, the defense rose to the occasion, forcing an incomplete pass and then sacking Bradford on back-to-back plays by Stephen Bowen and Brian Orakpo to push the Rams out of field goal range.

All that was left was one more defensive stand, this time highlighted by an Adam Carriker sack, and the Skins snuck out of St. Louis with a 3-1 record at the bye week and their dignity intact, sending the Rams to their fourth consecutive loss to start the season.

The day was not without positive achievement, lest this review sound too negative for a first place team.  The defense was strong against a putrid St. Louis “attack”.  They held the Rams to a total of 172 yards of offense, sacking Bradford seven times and forcing a fumble.  Ryan Torain, who entered in the second quarter for a banged up Tim Hightower, paced the offense with 135 yards on 19 carries, including a 20-yard TD in the middle of the second frame.  And the Skins rushed for 196 yards total on the day.

But Grossman is going backwards.  He was inconsistent in the first half and downright sloppy in the second.  The first interception was deep in St. Louis territory that went through Santana Moss’ (5 catches, 39 yards and a touchdown) hands, so we can give him a break on that one.  But the second one, on the first play after the Rams lone touchdown of the day that cut the score to 17-10, was all Rex.  He locked in on his target, never looked off the inside linebacker, and threw it into the waiting arms of Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, giving the Rams terrific field position, until the Skins defense forced them backwards.

So the Skins go into the bye week healthy, 3-1, and at the top of the division with the New York Giants (from whom the Skins have a game in hand) after losses Sunday by Dallas and Philadelphia.  Unless Tampa Bay holds the Colts to a field goal Monday night, the Skins will have given up the fewest points in the NFC through the first four weeks of the season and already have 15 sacks on the year.

But the quarterback situation is still a work in progress.  If the Skins want to make a change, they have two weeks to contemplate a move to John Beck and implement it.  On the other hand, they also have two weeks to continue to groom Grossman.  Hard to believe the Redskins are sitting at 3-1 and we’re still talking about this, but Rex Grossman only has himself to blame.

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Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Redskins coverage on Twitter @RedskinsDSP.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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