September 28, 2020

Washington Redskins: Dominant early, gutty performance late equals Skins first road win of season against Bears

Even with a disappointing loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins and Jay Gruden know that everything they want to achieve is still obtainable. The Redskins still control their own destiny in the playoff hunt, but they know that there was no longer room for error. Against the Chicago Bears on the road, it looked like Washington might run away with things early by jumping out to a 14-0 lead, but an inability to capitalize on turnovers allowed Chicago right back into the things. Thanks to another great game from Jordan Reed and the heavy foot of Bears’ kicker Robbie Gould, Washington escaped Soldier Field with their first road victory of the season, 24-21, and move to 6-7 on the year.

Usually things do not go well for Washington when they are forced to start with the football instead of deferring to the second half; that changed today. Kirk Cousins was a perfect 5 of 5 for 60 yards on the drive including a strong throw to Rashad Ross outside the numbers for a third-and-12 conversion. Jordan Reed came up huge with two first down thanks to extra effort and yards after the catch. Alfred Morris scored from one yard out for his first touchdown of the year to give Washington the early 7-0 lead.

The Redskins defense did their part after a Terrance Knighton sack led to a Bears punt. Following a quarterback sneak on third-and-1 to avoid a three-and-out, Cousins targeted DeSean Jackson deep down the field. Although the ball was underthrown, Jackson was able to draw contact and a pass interference penalty by working his way back to the football. On the very next play, Washington was set up with a goal-to-go situation thanks to a run-and-catch by Jordan Reed running a cross. Two plays later, Sean McVay fooled the Bears defense as Cousins was able to walk in for a touchdown on a read-option play, sold by the offensive line.

Bears QB Jay Cutler seemed to have things settled down as he converted on two third-and-longs to get to Washington’s 39. The Redskins coverage was at times struggling to counter Cutler’s audibles at the line of scrimmage. Trent Murphy turned all of that around by coming off of the right side unblocked for a sack, strip, and fumble recovery. Cousins could not do anything with it as he took a sack on third-and-three when he was unable to find anything down the field.

Chicago was able to come right back down the field as they victimized Mason Foster in coverage for a 30-yard gain, but shot themselves in the foot with back-to-back penalties leading to a punt. Similarly to the Redskins, the Bears are not a good enough team to make up for self-inflicted problems. Following another three-and-out that ended in a Cousins sack even though the offensive line gave him time, Chicago had an opportunity before halftime.

On a third-and-8 play, Jay Cutler was able to escape the collapsing pocket and fire down the field for a 36-yard gain because the Redskins secondary did not stick with the receivers for such a long period of time. Two plays later, Will Blackmon was beaten by Alshon Jeffery on a up-and-out route and it was a ball game going to halftime at 14-7. Washington’s inability to score points off of turnovers, three off the defense’s past seven takeaways, was the only reason why things were as close as they were.

(Photo by: @1067thefan)

(Photo by: @1067thefan)

Ryan Kerrigan, who has been working on simplifying his game, recorded his fourth sack in the past four games in order to steal back some momentum for Washington by forcing a three-and-out to start the half. Washington capitalized by going back to the playmaking ability of Jordan Reed, who ripped off a 32-yard gain on another crosser. Matt Jones dug down deep to convert on third-and-1 even when contacted prior to the line of game. Even when it looked like disaster was going to set in as Washington was penalized for delay of game on a third-and-goal from the one, out of a timeout Cousins delivered to Reed who split the double-team to regain a two-touchdown lead.

Chicago did not go quietly. In a up-tempo pace, the Redskins were on their heels and were backed up following a foolish unnecessary roughness penalty from DaShon Goldson. Cutler continued to get out of the pocket to make the defense look bad when the coverage could not stick with the receivers. Finally on a third-and-2 play, Cutler targeted Zach Miller on slant route that beat DeAngelo Hall and Goldson who was responsible for inside help. With 3:42 remaining in the third quarter, the Bears again drew within a score facing a 21-14 deficit.

Cousins reverted back to his ways of last season by throwing an idiotic floating ball outside the numbers that was easily picked off by Kyle Fuller, intended for Pierre Garcon. Three Matt Forte runs later and the Redskins saw their first quarter dominance disappear as things were tied at 21 before the start of the fourth quarter.

Following a Matt Jones 11-yard run — Washington’s longest of the day — Cousins delivered a solid touch pass to Jackson, who broke open in the soft spot of the zone for a 29-yard gain. Jackson got up slowly, which might have been partially to blame for Washington having to burn a timeout to beat the play clock. A 10-yard gain to Rashad Ross on third-and-14 was not good enough for the conversion but allowed the Redskins to retake the lead with a 47-yard field goal from Dustin Hopkins.

The Redskins defense forced another three-and-out to give their offense a chance to put this one away for good. Unfortunately after a couple of first down completions — including a gorgeous toe tap by Pierre Garcon — a Trent Williams holding penalty and injury to Jackson making him unable to run out an out route forced a punt. Even though Chicago was backed up, Cutler marched his team into plus territory with back-to-back 25 yard gains highlighted by poor Redskins tackling. Thanks to a heads-up defensive play call by Will Compton – who alerted his teammates about the upcoming screen play — Washington got off the field on a third-and-10 play.

With the rain intensifying at Soldier Field, Washington controlled their fate with possession of the football and 6:18 remaining in the game. Following another Jordan Reed first down, Matt Jones ran for 18 yards to melt some more clock. Then on a third-and-6, a scrambling Kirk Cousins decided to just throw one up for grabs and got away with a questionable decision. Reed tried to high point the ball but only deflected the ball away from the defender and to Jones who was jogging into the play. It went down as just a 18-yard reception, but considering it might have resulted in a turnover twice — Jones gave up the football without being touched down — things worked out for Washington. The Skins were unable to gain another first down, though, and a punt by Tress Way of 21 net yards gave Chicago a prime opportunity with 2:11 to play and a timeout to work with.

Things were a mess for Washington to start the drive on defense as Will Blackmon turned Alshon Jeffery loose and Cutler threw a bomb down field for a 50-yard gain. Luckily, the Redskins defense did not give up another first down, thanks to good defense by Bashaud Breeland against Jeffrey on a possible touchdown. Robbie Gould missed a 50-yard field goal in the rain and Matt Jones ran out the clock to secure the Redskins first road win of the season.

Washington (6-7) will host the Buffalo Bills next week in their final home game of the season with hopes to keep pace in the woeful NFC East.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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