Monday, November 06, 2006

Redskins 22 – Cowboys 19 / Hallelujah!

Some may argue that Divine intervention gave the Redskins a victory yesterday. If so, it is because they deserved it. The Cowboys were penalized eleven times for 153 yards yesterday, but it was a fellow from a hotter place that prevented it from being fifteen penalties for over 200 yards. And, wouldn’t you know it; on two of the Cowboys' drives in which they committed penalties but weren't called for it, Dallas scored a total of thirteen points. The Redskins victory yesterday would have been a cakewalk if those penalties were called.

But, the Hallelujah today has less to do with that Divine intervention. Today’s Hallelujah is mostly given because, for the first time all season, the Redskins had all eleven of their defensive starters on the field. Hallelujah for the bye week. (By the way, I had this Hallelujah theme written even before I heard WFAN this morning where Warner Wolf replayed the Redskins radio announcers Larry Michaels and Sonny Jurgenson’s call. Soon after Michaels yelled “It’s Gooooooooood!, Sonny gave a big “Hallelujah.”)

I wrote on 10/25 that the Redskins offense has yet to fire on all cylinders and use all of their new weapons effectively, yet it is still scoring slightly more than it did last season. It has been the defense that has been disappointing this year. Yesterday, despite the high yardage allowed, the Redskins showed why they need all eleven defensive starters. The five or six that played against the Colts aren’t enough. And, yesterday’s yardage and points allowed would have been a lot less if flags were thrown on all of Dallas’s penalties.

So, which uncalled penalties were the most detrimental? The Cowboys first touchdown should have been called back. Cowboys’ tight end Witten mauled defensive end Wynn right in front of the Refs. How they missed that call, I’ll never know. Former Cowboy Troy Aikman announced the game and was laughing that the refs missed the holding penalty because, as Aikman pointed out in a replay, even Witten was surprised that they didn’t throw the flag. His head was on a swivel looking everywhere for yellow laundry. When he couldn’t find any, he jumped for joy.

On Dallas’s second touchdown drive yesterday, Romo hit Crayton down the right sideline for a 48-yard gain on third-and-two from Dallas’s 33-yard line. It was Dallas’s biggest play of the game and the biggest play of the drive. It gave the Cowboys a first down at the Redskins nineteen-yard line. When Romo threw it, I though Shawn Springs was going to intercept. He had Crayton covered as well as anyone could be legally covered in the NFL. But, somehow in his last stride, Crayton got separation. A replay showed why. At the last second, Crayton pushed Springs away from him. The replay view and the referee’s view of the play were from the same angle except the referee was only ten-yards away from the players. At worst it should have been an incomplete pass and Dallas would have had to punt. At best it should have been the Redskins ball. And, in between it should have been a Dallas penalty for pushing off. Instead Dallas got the ball at the nineteen yard line and scored the go-ahead touchdown a few plays later.

On the Redskins penultimate possession, Antwaan Randle-El fielded a punt with 3:52 left in the game. He broke it up the middle through a huge hole; all of the Cowboys were blocked. The only person between Randle-El and the goal line was the punter and he was about fifteen-yards away and in no position to make a tackle. Randle-El was gone. That is until a Cowboys special teamer, who was beaten badly, reached back with his leg and tripped him. Of course, that is a penalty, and yes it went uncalled. The Redskins wouldn’t have needed a miracle ending to win the game if the Cowboys didn’t cheat there.

By the way, except for the push off, all these non-calls were pointed out by Troy Aikman on the broadcast. In fact, he pointed out three other calls that went against the Redskins that he thought were bogus:

1. A roughing the passer call on Taylor for a low hit that wasn't low;

2. Another non-call for blatant holding that the Cowboys got away with; and

3. A holding call against the Redskins' Christian Fauria that negated a huge play, an acrobatic catch by Lloyd, that would have given the Redskins a first down in field goal range. Replays showed that Fauria didn't hold and the drive ended without points;

Aikman didn't point out any bad calls that went in favor of the Redskins. I think the refs stopped throwing the flag against the Cowboys because their arms were tired; the Cowboys wore them out. Maybe that’s in the Cowboys game plan.

Redskins Heroes
Thrash for some big catches
Vincent for the blocked field goal and locker room leadership (every player and coach interviewed after the game mentioned his speeches over the bye week)
Brunnell for some very good Quarterbacking
Cooley for big catches (But he couldn’t start for Parcells)
Taylor for the return of the blocked field goal
Novak for redemption
Brandon Lloyd for the great block that sprung Portis on his TD run and some fine receiving
Bubba Tyer for getting the defense healthy

Mike and the Mad Dog
I have always assumed that Mike Francesca of WFAN’s Mike and the Mad Dog show was a Giants fan. I know he’s a Yankees fan. But, I just caught the tail end of a segment in which he is downright heartbroken at what Terrell Owens is doing to Parcells and the Cowboys. Maybe he’s just a Parcells fan because Parcells was once coach of the Giants. He’s very good at digging the knife in an open wound (ask any Mets fan), so this is his due.

In the segment, Mad Dog dismissively said the face mask penalty on Taylor’s return of the blocked field goal was a bad call, as if that was accepted wisdom. He thought it should have been five yards instead of fifteen. I can only refer the reader to this post, which is all of the visual evidence you need to make an informed decision.

The post also lists the NFL's facemask rules, which say if the player's helmet twists when a player grabs his facemask, it is a 15-yard penalty; no questions, no debate. Intent has nothing to do with it. Time spent holding the facemask has nothing to do with it. The only thing that matters is: Did the guy grab the face mask? And, if he did, did the helmet twist his head around? You be the judge.

The Redskins are alive for at least one more week. They still get to play all of the teams that are ahead of them in the playoff hunt. Their fate is in their hands. The Cowboys didn't get away with it. Hallelujah!


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