April 20, 2014

Washington Redskins Game 16 Review: Skins lose to Giants in finale in soggy mess

The Washington Redskins and New York Giants were eliminated from postseason contention weeks ago. They played like in on Sunday in a sloppy, soggy, turnover-filled contest that the Giants eventually took control over and won, 20-6.

The biggest drama of the day was when — not if — owner Daniel Snyder would fire head coach Mike Shanahan, with one year and $7 million remaining on his original 5-year deal, and the rest of his coaching staff. Media reports following the game indicated Snyder and Shanahan were to meet Monday morning at 9:00 am.

The Redskins finished the season 3-13, the third time in Shanahan’s four seasons the team has finished with double-digit losses.

The teams combined for six turnovers lost, with the Redskins fumbling twice and Kirk Cousin picked off twice, including the last offensive play of the day.

Cousins’ work was spotty in the heavy rain most of the day. He finished just 19-of-49 for 169 yards and threw behind receivers all day long. Alfred Morris carried 16 times for 62 yards and Pierre Garcon hauled in six catches for 56 yards, becoming the third player all-time to catch at least five balls in each of his 16 games in a season.

Indicative of how poor the play was, the teams combined to convert just 8 of 34 opportunities on third down.

The Skins scored first, taking advantage of a Giants’ turnover. Brandon Meriweather forced an Andre Brown fumble at the Giants’ 20. Three plays gained just five yards, so the Skins settled for a 31-yard Kai Forbath field goal.

On the ensuing possession, Eli Manning hit Jerrel Jernigan for 30 yards, then again for 24 yards for a touchdown, giving New York a lead that would never really be challenged. Jernigan finished with six catches for 90 yards.

After another Redskins three-and-out and a short punt by Sav Rocca, the Giants struck again, as Manning hooked up with Hakeem Nicks on a 35-yard completion to give them the ball at the Skins’ 11-yard line. The drive stalled, and Josh Brown was good from 34 yards out to up the Giants’ lead to 10-3.

Washington went three-and-out again, but on the Giants’ next series, Manning was picked off by Josh Wilson at the Redskins 46. A 14-yard reception by Garcon and 9-yard catch by Santana Moss set up Forbath for a 49-yard field goal just before the half.

On the last play of the third quarter, Jernigan took and end-around 49 yards untouched for a touchdown and Brown added a 38-yard field goal on the Giants’ next possession to close out the scoring — and the Redskins season.

Washington Capitals Game 38 Review: Caps not sharp but Fehr’s third period marker beats Rags 3-2

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 27: Mike Green #52 of the Washington Capitals celebrates after scoring a goal in the first period during an NHL game against the New York Rangers at Verizon Center on December 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 27: Mike Green #52 of the Washington Capitals celebrates after scoring a goal in the first period during an NHL game against the New York Rangers at Verizon Center on December 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Eric Fehr’s goal, playing four-on-four with 5:09 left in the game, lifted the Washington Capitals over division-rival New York Rangers 3-2 before a capacity crowd at Verizon Center.

Fehr, playing in his 300th NHL game. took a breakout pass from Nick Backstrom, carried over the blue line, and sent a wrist shot that slipped past Rangers’ goalie Cam Talbot to break a 2-2 tie. The Caps — outplayed in much of this one — withstood the Rangers change the last few minutes of the game to hold on and escape with the two points.

The Caps raise their record to 20-14-4 in the process.

Phillip Grubauer was the Caps player of the game, making 38 saves on 40 shots, and bailing the Caps defense out time and again, especially with the pairing of John Erskine and Steve Oleksy on the ice.

The Caps got out first in this one. With Rick Nash off for tripping, Martin Erat worked the puck down the right wing boards to draw the defense, and backhanded the puck to Mike Green who was waiting at center point. Green unleashed a slap shot that beat goalie Cam Talbot glove side to give the Caps a 1-0 lead just 6:55 into the first period.

The Rangers led the Caps in shots on goal (14-7) and total shots (21-14) in the first frame, with both teams recording three shots on goal during the power play.

New York tied it up a mere 1:37 into the second period. Nick Backstrom was called for a very touchy interference call, setting up the Rags with their third power play opportunity of the night. The Rangers took full advantage, as a big slap shot from Brad Richards from the point was tipped by Benoit Pouliot, who slipped behind John Carlson at the top of the crease.

Despite being dominated for much of the second period, the Caps escaped with a one-goal lead. With just 1:05 remaining in the period, and the Caps getting absolutely housed by the Rangers forecheck, Steve Oleksy was able to bump the puck up along the boards and Ryan McDonagh was unable to corral it. Backstrom picked up the loose puck, skated in on the right wing and snapped a shot low-blocker side to beat Talbot and give the Caps the least deserved lead in all of hockey.

How badly did the Rangers own the second period? By the end of the frame, they held a 50-36 shot advantage – including 17-7 in shots on goal — with three shots on goal against coming in the 1:08 immediately preceding the Backstrom goal.

That lead didn’t last. Just 17 seconds into the third period, and with the Caps on a power play, Ryan McDonagh sprung Carl Hagelin, and Hagelin beat Grubauer 5-hole to knot the game at two.

But Fehr, who had a goal waived off earlier in the game, came through four-on-four to break the tie and the Caps nervously held on to secure the two points.

The Caps play Sunday at 5:00 pm ET when they host the Buffalo Sabres.

Washington Redskins Game 15 Review: Cowboys comeback late to win 24-23

GARCON BREAKS ART MONK’S TEAM SINGLE-SEASON RECEPTION RECORD IN LOSS

Tony Romo giveth, and Tony Romo taketh away.

Romo’s third quarter interception gave the Washington Redskins hope, leading to an Alfred Morris touchdown and a Skins 20-14 lead. But in the waning moments of the game, Romo went through all of his receivers until he found DeMarco Murray alone in the flat, who sneaked into the end zone to lift the Dallas Cowboys to a 24-23 win at FedEx Field, keeping their playoff hopes alive until the final week of the season.

The Redskins fell to 3-12 in the defeat, their seventh in a row. The (at least) 12 losses clinches coach Mike Shanahan’s worst record as a head coach in the NFL.

Washington led 23-14 after Kai Forbath’s 47-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter. But the Cowboys showed resilience though the final stanza, getting a Dan Bailey 25-yard field goal with 6:09 left following a 15-play, 73 yard drive before the deciding touchdown, which came at the end of a 9-play, 87 yard drive.

Kirk Cousins finished 21 of 36 for 197 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Morris ran for 88 yards on 24 carries.

Pierre Garcon caught 11 balls for 144 yards and a third quarter touchdown, passing NFL Hall of Famer Art Monk’s team single-season reception record of 104. Garcon stands at 111 with one game remaining.

For the day, Romo went 17 of 27 for 226 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. Romo shook off an right leg injury in the third quarter to lead his Cowboys to a win critical to their playoff chances. Dallas plays Philadelphia next week with the division title — and playoff appearance — on the line.

The Skins had no such aspirations, their playoff hopes realistically dashed early in the season. But the game marked London Fletcher’s last home game of his career. The veteran linebacker announced earlier in the week he was “99 percent” sure he would retire at the end of the season. Fletcher received several ovations during the day from the Redskins fans in the decidedly split crowd at Fed Ex, and finished with one solo and five assisted tackles.

The Redskins complete one of the franchise’s most disappointing seasons in their storied history next Sunday at the New York Giants.

Washington Redskins Game 14 Review: Last second two-point conversion fails, Skins fall in Atlanta by one

After a confusing and contentious week off the field, the Washington Redskins actually had to play a football game, traveling to Atlanta to face the Falcons, who like the Skins have played to a disappointing 3-10 record this season.

The Redskins scored a touchdown with 18 second remaining on the clock to bring the score within one point, but coach Mike Shanahan decided to go for two. Like much of the rest of the Redskins season, though, the two-point attempt came up short, and the Falcons escaped with a 27-26 win.

Kirk Cousins, starting for the first time this season with Robert Griffin III shut down for the rest of the season, had a banner day, going 29 of 45 for 381 yards and three touchdowns, though he did throw two costly  interceptions.

The Falcons broke out quickly, scoring twice in the first quarter. Atlanta took the opening kickoff for a 14-play, 83-yard drive, culminated in a Steven Jackson 3-yard plunge.  After Cousins fumbled — off a sack by Osi Umenyiora — set up the Falcons at the Skins 36, Matt Ryan found Tony Gonzalez open for a 13-yard scoring strike.

On the ensuing drive, Alfred Morris busted a 37-yard run immediately preceding Cousin’s 23-yard touchdown pass to forgotten man Fred Davis, in the lineup again while Jordan Reed recovers from concussion symptoms.

The Skins held Atlanta on their next drive, but Santana Moss muffed the punt when E.J. Biggers blocked an Falcons defender into him while Moss was trying to fair catch. The turnover gave Atlanta the ball at the Skins 14. Atlanta couldn’t punch it in, so they settled for a 20-yard Matt Bryant field goal.

On the next series, Moss fumbled after a short completion but the defense forced a 3-and-out and Washington took over on their own 41 after the punt. Three plays later, Cousins hit Pierre Garcon in stride down the left sideline for a 53-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown — the Skins longest touchdown of the season.

The Skins’ D held again and the offense drove 51 yards on 10 plays to set up Kai Forbath for a 33-yard field goal to tie the game at 17 with 54 seconds left in the half.

Though they started at their own 10 yard line, Atlanta tried to make something happen before intermission, ut Ryan’s long pass was intercepted by Jose Gumbs at the Falcons’ 38. The Skins moved to Atlanta’s 19 yard line, but ran out of time and had to settle for a Forbath 37-yard field goal as time expired to give the Skins a 20-17 halftime lead.

On the Falcons’ first possession of the second half, they marched 57 yards on 10 plays to the Skins’ 1-yard line. Washington held on fourth-and-one, with Perry Riley, Jr. tackling Steven Jackson short of the goal line. Unfortunately, on the next play Cousins was picked off by Willliam Moore at the 16 and he took it down to the two, where Jackson immediately punched it in to put Atlanta up 24-20.

The Redskins took their first drive of the fourth quarter down to Atlanta’s 13-yard line, using completions of 16 yards to Moss and 14 and 11-yard catches by Garcon. But Morris’ second fumble of the day — the Skins sixth turnover — killed the drive.

Washington got the ball back after another defensive stop with 5:45 left in the game, but on the first play Cousins’ long pass intended for Garcon was picked off by Desmond Trufant at the Skins’ 39-yard line.

The Falcons gained five yards and Bryant drilled a 51-yard field goal to put Atlanta up seven with 3:31 left in the game.

Cousins drove the Skins down the field systematically, including an 11-yard pass to Aldrick Robinson on a third and six at their own 44. Cousins hit Robinson again for three yards to set up second-and-goal from the 3-yard line with 22 seconds left on the clock. Cousins then found Moss on a quick out route to bring the score to 27-26.

Cousins rolled right on the two-point conversion attempt, but his pass for Logan Paulsen was tipped harmlessly out of the end zone.

Washington Redskins Game 13 Review: Skins obliterated by Chiefs 45-10 with rumors swirling

The Washington Redskins were dominated in every facet of the game Sunday, falling to the playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs 45-10. In nine meetings between the two teams in their franchise histories, the Chiefs have won eight times — none more convincingly than this one.

The Chiefs (10-3) built a 17-0 lead after the first quarter on a Ryan Succop 33-yard field goal, a 2-yard Jamaal Charles run and Dwayne Bowe’s 21-yard touchdown catch from Alex Smith.

Kansas City extended its lead to 31-0 midway through the second quarter after Charles’ 5-yard TD catch and Dexter McCluster’s 74-yard punt return for a score.

The Skins (3-10) got on the board with Logan Paulsen’s circus catch of a 7-yard toss by Robert Griffin III, but Quintin Demps returned the Redskins kickoff 95 yards for another touchdown.

Kai Forbath nailed a 50-yard field goal as time expired on the half, and the Skins trailed 38-10.

The only second half score came in the fourth quarter when Knile Davis ran 17 yards through the Skins defense to provide the 45-10 final.

Griffin finished the game 12 of 26 for 164 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, but two other easy picks were dropped. Alfred Morris, the forgotten man in the Redskins offense the past two weeks, went over the 1,000 yard mark for the season, but finished with just 31 yards on only 12 carries.

Charles carved up the Skins defense to the tune of 151 yards on 19 carries, while Smith went 14 of 20 for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

The season-worst beating took place amid reports that coach Mike Shanahan and owner Daniel Snyder’s relationship is damaged beyond repair.

What is for certain is that the train wreck that is the Redskins season has three games remaining, and with no first round draft pick next season due to the trade for Griffin with the Rams, the Skins will have plenty of work to do in free agency this offseason to address major needs on the offensive line, defensive backfield and special teams.

The salary cap penalty will be over, so the Redskins front office can go about accumulating depth and special teams players that they just haven’t been able to do the past two offseasons.

Whether or not the current coaching staff will be here to guide them is a question still to be answered.

Washington Redskins Game 12 Review: Skins eliminated from postseason with 24-17 loss to Giants

The Washington Redskins took a 14-point lead over division rival New York Giants, but allowed that lead to evaporate while frittering away opportunities all evening, eventually falling to the Giants 24-17 as Pierre Garcon was stripped after making a catch on fourth down with less than two minutes remaining in the game.

The Redskins fall to 3-9 on the season and were officially eliminated from the playoffs. The Giants, at 5-7, remain mathematically eligible for now.

Robert Griffin III completed his first 12 passes on the Skins first two drives of the game as they built a 14-0 lead, and finished 24 of 32 for 207 yards and a touchdown. But after those first two drives, Griffin was harassed all game and Justin Tuck abused right tackle Tyler Polumbus for four sacks on the day.

The Skins took the opening drive right down the field, going 71 yards in 14 plays, culminating with Alfred Morris’ 1-yard touchdown plunge. It was a systematic attack, with the longest play a 16-yard strike to Pierre Garcon for 16 yards.

New Yorkwent on a pair of three-and-outs and Washington took over on their own 41 late in the first quarter. Another picture-perfect drive went 54 yards in eight plays, as Griffin found Logan Paulsen wide open in the seam for a 19-yard touchdown. Griffin had completed 12 straight passes on the Skins first two possessions.

The Giants bowed their backs on their next drive. After a couple of Eli Manning (22 of 28, 235 yards, 1 TD) completions, Peyton Hillis gashed the Skins defense for runs of eight and 27-yards on consecutive carries, bowling over linebacker London Fletcher and safety Brandon Meriweather on the second carry. Andre Brown then carried for seven yards to set up his 23-yard touchdown run.

The Skins then couldn’t pick up a first down on two possessions, and the Giants took over on their own 19 after a 53-yard Sav Rocca punt. Manning led the G-Men on a 9-play, 81-yard drive, going 6-for-6 on the drive, including a 22-yard scoring pass to tight end Brandon Myers, his third catch of the game at that point.

The first half ended with the Skins bypassing a 57-yard field goal attempt, but a 3-man Giants rush disrupted Griffin and he ran around left end for 20 yards instead of heaving one into the end zone.

Neither team could do much with their first drives of the second half. On the Giants second possession, Manning tried to force a ball to his tight end, which was tipped right to Meriweather, who returned it to the Giants 19-yard line. But the Skins stalled, and settled for a 33-yard Kai Forbath field goal, to put the Skins up 17-14.

On the next series, Washington was forced to punt from their own 38. Long-snapper Kyle Nelson, who replaced Nick Sundberg when he went on the I.R. with a knee injury, flubbed the snap, forcing Rocca to quick-kick. The punt traveled just 18 yards, and a holding call on Nelson exacerbated the matter, giving the Giants the ball at the Skins 46.

It took the Giants just four plays to put the ball in the end zone, as Andre Brown’s 1-yard plunge gave the Giants a 21-17 lead. The play was reviewed, as it appeared Brown’s knee might have touched down before the ball crossed the line, but replays proved inconclusive.

Two more fruitless Redskins possessions later, the Giants went 40 yards on eight plays to set up Josh Brown’s 39-yard field goal to make it a 7-point game with 2:32 remaining.

The Skins last drive was filled with dropped passes, and on their final play, a reception that would have kept the drive alive on fourth down, Pierre Garcon was stripped by defensive back Will Hill to ice the game for the Giants. That play came immediately after the referees screwed up the downs, originally giving the Redskins a first down, then revoking it and forcing them into fourth down.

Regardless, the Skins would have had a first down if Garcon held onto the ball.

Washington Redskins Game 11 Review: Offense disappears in second half against 49ers

The Washington Redskins took a different tack this week in losing to the San Francisco 49ers to fall to 3-8 on the season. Many times this season, the Skins got down big in the first half and made it a game in the second half when the opposition fell back into a shell. This week, the halftime deficit was a mere four points, but the Niners simply ran away with it in the second half, stretching the lead to the eventual 21-point margin.

Robert Griffin III completed 17 of 27 for just 125 yards and an interception.

The 49ers built a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter on an Anquan Boldin 19-yard touchdown pass and Phil Dawson 29-yard field goal.

The Skins, largely thanks to the running of Alfred Morris, cut the lead to four with a pair of Kai Forbath field goals, the second one as time expired in the half.

On the Niners’ first possession of the second half, Vernon Davis coughed the ball up trying to extend the play, and Washington took over on the 49er 49 yard line. On fourth-and-two, however, Roy Helu’s run fell short, and San Francisco took over on downs. They immediately marched down field and scored on Boldin’s second TD of the game, a nine-yard strike from Colin Kaepernick.

The rout was then on.

While Griffin continued to flail under pressure, the Niners added to the lead. D.C. native and University of Maryland’s Vernon Davis hauled in a one-yard scoring strike and Dawson hit from 49 yards to cap the scoring.

Washington Redskins Game 5 Review: Skins fall to Cowboys 31-16 in mistake-filled game

There are some games that are closer than the score would indicate. Though the Washington Redskins outgained the Dallas Cowboys both rushing and passing Sunday night, the Skins fell to the Cowboys on the road 31-16 in a performance where the Dallas kick returner outgained the Cowboys total offensive effort.

Yes, it was one of those games.

As has been the case too often this season, problems on special teams, penalties and turnovers all played a big part in eventual defeat in a game by all accounts the Redskins could have stolen on the road.

The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is one of the crown jewels of the NFL. Even in seasons where the teams aren’t particularly good the seasonal pair of matchups are usually entertaining due to the long-standing rivalry. When the teams are expected to be competitive, like this season, they make for national television viewing. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 162 Review: Roark stellar but Nats end season with a loss

DAVEY JOHNSON ENTERS RETIREMENT WITH A 1,372-1,071 MANAGERIAL RECORD

By many stretches, 162 games equates to a lot of baseball. To those who have never categorized months by spring training, regular season and playoffs, baseball appears to cover an overwhelming portion of the calendar year – too much, even. Throw into the mix, for the sake of humor, the fact Davey Johnson is now retired with an astounding 1,372-1,071 managerial record. Yes, on the surface, it all adds up to an exhaustive amount of baseball.

And yet, with Corey Brown’s grounder to Arizona first baseman Eric Chavez, the Washington Nationals officially closed out the 2013 season all too soon with a record of 86-76.

The Nats’ skipper had predicted earlier in the season that it would take a ball club a minimum of 90 wins to make it to the playoffs. While the Nats’ hopes seemed dashed long before 90 wins became impossible, Game 162 marks an abrupt end to a long season for any team omitted from October baseball – not the least, a team that many projected to win it all this year.

Nevertheless, the Nats left the field for the final time in 2013 after falling to the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2.

But, the Nats’ last game had some noteworthy moments. Prior to first pitch, the D-backs honored Johnson, who closed the book on an honorable 17-year managerial career with the Nats’ loss.

Tanner Roark provided Washington with yet another solid outing, allowing just one run on three hits and a walk through seven innings pitched. Roark’s dominance allowed the Nats – staffed primarily with reserves – the opportunity to hand Johnson one more win.

Roark’s only trouble spot came in the first after Willie Bloomquist singled and Adam Eaton hit a sacrifice bunt, which Roark bobbled allowing the Diamondbacks to hold runners at first and second. Bloomquist came home on a sacrifice fly by Paul Goldschmidt to give Arizona a 1-0 lead they held onto until the sixth.

In the meantime, Arizona’s Wade Miley was sharp, shutting down the Nats until that point.

Tyler Moore began the sixth by reaching first on a throwing error. Zach Walters then tripled him home to tie the game before he came home himself on a single by Steve Lombardozzi.

That was enough for Roark, who achieved a final line of 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K with 70 of 95 pitches thrown for strikes.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for Ryan Mattheus.

After Bloomquist struck out swinging, Eaton and Goldschmidt hit back-to-back singles. Martin Prado’s single made three – and marked the game-tying run. Mattheus forced Aaron Hill to hit a fly ball for out number two, but A.J. Pollock’s RBI single put Arizona on top once and for all, 3-2.

It is often said that anything short of a World Series ring represents a disappointment to any and all ball clubs. While a manager to be named will take the reigns on Washington’s “World Series or Bust” mantra next season, seven months stand between the Nats and their next shot at a Curly W.

Washington Nationals Game 161 Review: Haren’s gem leads Nats over D-backs

Dan Haren’s performance was one of the biggest disappointments of the first half of the season for the Washington Nationals. Since returning from the disabled list mid-season, he’s been more of the pitcher they thought he would be. The Nats dug themselves too deep a hole to climb out of, and Haren’s second half performance ended up too little, too late.

Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Haren had another terrific performance, holding the D-Back to four hits over seven innings, leading the Nats to a 2-0 win, ensuring that manager Davey Johnson finishes his Major League managing career at least 300 games over .500.

Haren walked one and struck out five, using the same formula that has led him to post a 3.28 ERA since July 8, the day he was activated from the D.L.

The Nats couldn’t do much off Arizona starter Brandon McCarthy, but it was just enough, scoring single runs in the sixth and seventh innings.  Denard Span tripled to lead off the sixth and came in on Ryan Zimmerman’s ground out to short. The next inning, Chad Tracy launched his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot, to cap the scoring.

Drew Storen pitched a perfect eighth inning with a strikeout, and though Rafael Soriano made things interesting in the ninth, allowing a walk and a hit, he got the job done, earning his 43rd save of the season.

THE GOOD: Tracy went 2-for-3 with the homer, raising his season batting average to .202.

THE BAD: Ian Desmond went 0-for-4.

THE UGLY: We’ll refrain.

THE STATS: 6 hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. 0-for-4 with RISP, 7 LOB. No errors or DPs.

NEXT GAME: Sunday at 4:10 pm ET against the Diamondbacks. Tanner Roark (7-1, 1.74) faces LHP Wade Miley (10-10, 3.63).

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