COMMENTARY | It looked like it was going to be a broken record for the Washington Redskins. Redskins miscues including a blocked punt resulting in Oakland's opening touchdown and flashes of the shoddy tackling saw the Oakland Raiders jump out to a two-touchdown lead.
However, the Redskins showed a spark of determination they haven't since last season, rallying behind a no-huddle offense to take the lead and parlaying seven sacks of quarterback Matt Flynn into a 24-14 victory in Oakland that marked the first win of the year for Washington. Coupled with Dallas's 30-21 loss in San Diego and Philadelphia's 52-20 loss at Denver, the Redskins are suddenly just one game out of first place in the NFC East.
Even a miscue by tight end Logan Paulsen that resulted in a lost fumble on a 33-yard reception with 8:51 left in the third quarter that would have resulted in a first down at the Washington 45 didn't stop the Redskins. Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski missed a 52-yard field goal on the ensuing series that gave the Skins a first down at their own 42 and led to a five-yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III to Pierre Garcon that gave the Skins a 17-14 lead and, more importantly, big momentum as the Skins rattled off 24 consecutive points after falling behind 14-0.
The biggest story for the Redskins (1-3) was a much-maligned defense finally stepping up and making plays. They still showed some of the shoddy tackling, including London Fletcher missing a tackle on Rashad Jennings on a 14-yard gain with 13:11 remaining in the fourth quarter when a solid tackle would have held Jennings to five yards. But they also generated pressure on Flynn that resulted in the seven sacks. The Redskins also won the turnover battle two to one.
With the aforementioned losses by Dallas and Philadelphia, and with the Kansas City Chiefs beating up the New York Giants 31-7, the Redskins are now feeling much better about themselves heading into their bye week. Dallas will host the 4-0 Denver Broncos who have looked like the best team in football during the first four games. The Eagles will travel to Met Life Stadium East Rutherford, N.J. to face the Giants. A Denver victory would leave the Redskins just a half game behind Dallas for first place before the Cowboys host the Redskins on Oct. 13.
Running back Roy Helu, Jr.: With starting running back Alfred Morris leaving the game due to a bruised rib, Helu stepped up with some key runs and pass receptions. He finished the day with 13 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 43 yards, proving to be enough of a threat to give the offense key openings. Morris added 16 carries for 71 yards before he was hurt.
Griffin: After throwing four interceptions in the first three games of 2013, just one fewer than he threw in 15 starts in 2012, Griffin didn't turn the ball over once and smartly led the Redskins on no-huddle drives that resulted in 10 points. He completed 18-of-31 passes for 227 yards and the touchdown to Garcon that gave the Redskins a 17-14 lead with 2:58 remaining in the third quarter that proved to be the winning score.
Safety David Amerson: With safety Baccari Rambo not playing after being benched last week, Washington's top draft choice in 2013 made a big play by picking off Flynn and racing to pay dirt for a 45-yard touchdown that cut Oakland's lead to 14-10 with 10:59 left in the second quarter.
Linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan: Each linebacker got two sacks and three solo tackles and combined for 24 yards lost as the Redskins defense finally made key plays. The Redskins may lead the league in missed tackles and were on pace to set an NFL record for most yards allowed that was set last year by the New Orleans Saints, but a combination of an injury to Oakland running back Darren McFadden and ineffectiveness by Flynn may have contributed to the defense's efforts.
Mike Sarzo has been a journalist for over 15 years and has been a Redskins fan since 1987.
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