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Landover, MD-After another poor first half of football, the Washington Redskins did what they have been doing all season long. They made the necessary halftime adjustments and dug deep.
This time however, the Redskins bid at a comeback fell short as they lost a tough one to the Indianapolis Colts 27-24.
As in previous games this season, the Redskins were outplayed by a team for nearly the entire contest, but somehow still found themselves with the ball and three time-outs late in the fourth quarter, needing only a field goal to head to overtime for the third time in six games.
The defense, rising to the occasion in the second half, forced the Colts to punt after three plays, leaving Donovan McNabb and the Redskins offense with more than two minutes to drive 62 yards to take the lead. Yet McNabb overthrew Anthony Armstrong downfield on fourth and ten as the Colts escaped Fedex Field with a win on prime time television.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan was unhappy with his team's inability to pull out what could have a been a key statement victory against one the best regular season teams in NFL history. "Anytime you get an opportunity to put the game away and you get the ball on the last drive of the game you want to be able to capitalize on that and we just couldn't get it done," Shanahan said after the game.
The Redskins had countless opportunities to make the Colts pay for several uncharacteristic mistakes by Peyton Manning. They dropped four potential interceptions and Manning made sure to make up for the errors with a solid performance. He was 25-38 for 307 yards and two touchdowns.
The Redskins recovered three fumbles in the second half against the Colts, but dropped interceptions by Carlos Rogers and Kareem Moore were costly.
Redskins linebacker London Fletcher was disappointed the defense wasn't able to take full advantage of Manning's ill-advised throws. "We had several opportunities in that football game," he said in the locker room following the loss. "I think we dropped about four interceptions. Those are game-changing type plays and you steal possessions. I think they ended up with about 10 or 13 points out of those opportunities [where] we dropped interceptions. You can't keep giving a good offense like the Colts that many possessions."
Indy made the most of their second chances. Colts wideout Pierre Garcon had a tremendous performance, catching a 57-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring in the first quarter. For the game, he pulled in four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. Garcon and Manning were supplemented by a 128 yard rushing effort by Joseph Addai who scored a key touchdown in the third quarter after the Redskins had cut the Colts' lead to 17-14 on Ryan Torain's second rushing touchdown.
After Torain's touchdown, Addai gashed the defense for a 46-yard dash, and then a 13-yard TD to make it 24-14 in the third quarter. The Colts ran the ball for 170 yards against a defense set on stopping Manning.
"They were essentially in a dime defense the entire game," said Manning. "It looked like they were playing a lot of pass coverage; and they are great pass rushers. You have to be able to be balanced; you can't just throw it every single time. We did a good job in the running game and we made some huge runs when we had to have them."
Torain, making just his third career NFL start, was the lone bright spot of the first half with 68 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, but the Redskins trailed 17-7 at the break. McNabb threw an interception on the Redskins first offensive possession, and had a QB rating of 45.9 going into the locker room. He failed to find a wide open Armstrong breaking away from defenders in the second quarter and missed several routine throws.
When he did manage to lead Washington down the field late in the half, Graham Gano pushed a 48-yard field goal wide right.
The Redskins defense surrendered nearly 300 yards of offense in the first half, but held the Colts to 175 yards in the second half, making the necessary changes to contain Manning and the Colts. We made a lot of adjustments that allowed us to get the offense more playing time on the field, but you know at the same time we did give up some touchdown drives, some field goals to them that we could have prevented with an interception or something like that," said CB Byron Westbrook.
In the second half the Redskins offense was given a short field several times and scored ten points off turnovers. However, they were unable to put together any long drives until late in the game when McNabb capped a 12-play, 92-yard drive with an eight-yard TD pass to RB Keiland Williams to make it 27-24. That was as close as Washington would get.
"We left a bunch of plays out there, but it's a long football game," said Brian Orakpo. "We are going to look at this film, see what we did wrong and go from there."
Notes: McNabb passed Troy Aikman for sole possession of 14th place on the NFL's all-time completions list with 2,926. He also moved past Steve DeBerg to claim 18th place on the NFL's all-time passing list with 34,434 yards.
Tight end Chris Cooley left the game in the second half with a concussion. His status will likely be updated tomorrow.
Former Redskins guard Russ Grimm was presented with his Hall of Fame ring in a halftime ceremony featuring 62 former Redskins players.
The Redskins love drama.
In a season that is just six games old, the Redskins took their opponents down to the wire for the fifth time.
In the end though, it was the Colts who prevailed, because Aaron Francisco did what Kareem Moore and Carlos Rogers could not: he caught an interception. This wasn't just any interception though. It was a one-handed grab to end the game and give the Colts a 3-point victory at FedEx Field.
The Redskins' final drive started from their own 20-yard line with 32 seconds left, but it lasted just one play as Donovan McNabb targeted Joey Galloway for a long throw on the left sideline. Francisco made a great play, and had he not made it, Galloway may have been on his way to an 80-yard winning touchdown.
The final score was 27-24. The Redskins will travel to Chicago to take on the Bears next Sunday.
For a second, it looked like the Redskins would somehow come back again. Their defense forced an improbable three and out in just 16 seconds, and they got the ball back with all three timeouts and over two minutes left.
Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. Donovan McNabb and the Redskins got nowhere on four plays, turning it over on downs. McNabb was sacked by Robert Mathis on second down, and missed badly on a deep ball to Anthony Armstrong on fourth down. The Colts cannot run out the clock yet, but they look to be in good position, with the ball at the Redskins' 38.
Down by two scores, starting from their own 8-yard line, with 8:36 remaining in the game, it was absolutely critical that the Redskins score on this possession. They did just that as Donovan McNabb went 10 for 11 and completed a 10-yard screen pass to Keiland Williams for the first touchdown of the rookie running back's career.
The elusive McNabb had to avoid pressure on several of his completions, and thought he had scored the touchdown with his feet before his scoring run was called back for holding on Trent Williams.
Keiland Williams and Santana Moss each had three receptions on the drive and Fred Davis added two more.
Colts running back Joseph Addai had to leave the game after London Fletcher nailed him on a forced fumble late in the third quarter. The Colts are saying he's questionable to return a shoulder injury.
However, NBC's Andrea Kramer reported that Addai looked "woozy" when she ran into him running off the field.
The Redskins have forced a lot of Colts turnovers, but haven't been able to take advantage of any of them. This time, the Colts made them pay for that, marching up the field and eventually getting a 33-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri. They now lead 27-17.
Dallas Clark came alive on the drive with a long reception, and the Colts later stuck to their ground game to get the ball into field goal range. Running back Mike Hart ended up getting nine yards on 3rd and 10, which made the field goal much more makeable.
The Redskins now must score to have a chance in this game.
Cooley had five receptions for 37 yards tonight, and was helping to pave the way for a 100-yard rushing performance by Ryan Torain. He also laid a devastating block to help Mike Sellers pick up extra yardage on a catch. However, his night is done.
Fred Davis has taken Cooley’s place at tight end.
Joseph Addai just found out what Steven Jackson, Mike Vick, and Clay Matthews learned previously - that the Redskins have a knack for injuring their opponents' most successful players.
As the Colts were driving down the field and eating up clock early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins forced Addai to fumble with the ball on the Washington 23-yard line. Addai had already been struggling with neck injuries, and a hard hit from London Fletcher required Addai to get some help leaving the field.
It was the crushing hit by Fletcher that caused the fumble after Kedrick Golston already had Addai wrapped up. The loose ball was recovered by LaRon Landry.
In the first half, it was the Redskins missing opportunities to force turnovers against the Colts. In the second half, suddenly, they can't stop.
Left for dead after a Joseph Addai touchdown, the Redskins once again made something happen, this time on special teams. Lorenzo Alexander forced a fumble, and Byron Westbrook recovered at the Colts' 39. The Redskins got into field goal range thanks to two long runs by Ryan Torain, but were forced to settle for a 39-yard field goal by Graham Gano. Donovan McNabb was sacked on a third-down screen pass play.
The Redskins have taken pride in limiting big offensive plays this season. Well they just gave up their second one of the night.
On the first play of their offensive possession, Peyton Manning handed off to Joseph Addai, and 46 yards later he was still trying to break tackles. The run was the longest of Addai's career.
The Colts' drive lasted less than two minutes total, and they turned to Addai again to cap off the scoring drive as he punched the ball up the middle and into the endzone from 13 yards out.
The Washington Redskins desperately needed to force a turnover after missing three chances to do so earlier in the game. Thankfully, they just got that.
After coming close several times, Brian Orakpo finally broke through the Colts' offensive line, slapping the ball away from Peyton Manning deep in Colts territory. The Redskins recovered the ball at the Colts' 13-yard line, and four plays later, Ryan Torain plunged in from one yard out for his second touchdown on the game, cutting the Colts' lead to 17-14.
The play was huge because the Redskins didn't do anything on the first drive of the second half. Had the Colts scored, they could have put the game out of reach. Instead, the Redskins are back from the dead once again.
The Redskins had a chance to go into the locker room at halftime down by only 7, but a missed field goal by Graham Gano left the Colts with a 10-point lead.
Washington's possession started with Chad Simpson's first kick return as a Redskin. He returned the ball 32-yards, giving the team decent field position. The Redskins were able to drive the ball to the Indianapolis 30-yard line, but Gano could not make a 48-yard field goal.
The Redskins left Peyton Manning with 24 seconds remaining on the clock with the ball on their own 38-yard line, and he used them to drive the ball into scoring range. However, Adam Vinatieri missed his second field goal of the night, this one also from 48-yards, and the teams closed out the half with the score remaining 17-7.
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri had a chance to make up for his missed field goal on the last Colts drive. This time, he made it count.
Vinatieri nailed a 43-yard field goal, and the Colts now have a 17-7 lead. Vinatieri had missed a 38-yard field goal wide right last drive.
The Colts' drive was sustained by an incredible one-handed catch by Pierre Garcon. Garcon leaped to catch a Peyton Manning pass, snaring it with his right hand across his body in midair. The only catch that rivals it this year was Randy Moss' one-handed catch on Darrelle Revis of the Jets.
The Redskins now have exactly two minutes to cut the deficit back to single digits.
Most teams reserve the hurry-up offense for drives late in a half. Not the Colts. Peyton Manning used a quick no huddle offense throughout this entire drive to limit the Redskins' ability to make substitutions and change defensive packages.
It worked. The Colts were able to string together 10 plays to bring the ball down to the Washington 20-yard line, but the ensuing field goal attempt by Adam Vinatieri sailed wide right.
After the Redskins tied the game up at 7, Peyton Manning just showed everyone why he's Peyton Manning.
Manning picked apart the Redskins throughout the drive, hitting receiver after receiver as the Colts methodically moved up the field. Manning finished it off with a five-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Austin Collie, as safety Kareem Moore blew the coverage. Moore went to double team Reggie Wayne on the outside, which was bad because Carlos Rogers played Collie as if Moore was going to help deep. The miscommunication was all Manning needed to deliver the ball on target.
The Colts now lead 14-7.
We told you that the key to winning this game was to control the clock. The Redskins did just that on their latest possession, go 89 yards in 10 plays and using 5:22 of game time.
The Redskins faced third down only once as Donovan McNabb went 5 for 6 with two completions to Anthony Armstrong and a big 18-yard pass to Santana Moss to get them into the red zone. Ryan Torain, who worked hard for yardage throughout the drive, capped it off with a 9-yard touchdown run.
On the first play after a Donovan McNabb interception, Peyton Manning came out slinging. He hit wide receiver Pierre Garcon on a 57-yard bomb to give the Colts an early 7-0 lead.
To start the game, as the commentators persisted in criticizing the Redskins for deferring on the coin toss and electing to receive the ball to start the second half, the Washington defense forced a three-and-out on Indianapolis' first possession. The Redskins drove the ball into Indianapolis territory, but an interception by Jerraud Powers gave the Colts the ball back, and that was all Manning needed to take advantage.
Blades is in his fourth season out of Pitt. He is a classic run plugger and a reliable tackler. He will be on the field whenever the Redskins line up with four linebackers.
Armstrong has just seven catches, but is averaging 26.9 yards per reception. He made a spectacular 48-yard TD catch to help spark the Redskins to a 16-13 win over Green Bay last week, and is poised to become the secondary receiving target Washington has been searching for behind Santana Moss and Chris Cooley.
After a great deal of thought, the Redskins have elected to name Albert Haynesworth to their inactive list for tonight's matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. He'll be joined by several other players who started for the Redskins in 2009, including Rocky McIntosh, Derrick Dockery, and Clinton Portis.
McIntosh had been suffering from concussionary symptoms all week, and will be replaced in the starting lineup by fourth year pro H.B. Blades.
Dockery is missing his second week in a row after losing his job in the starting lineup at left guard to Kory Lichtensteiger.
Kevin Barnes, Anthony Bryant, Logan Paulsen, and John Beck (third QB) are also on the inactive list for the Redskins tonight.
The Colts' inactives include Anthony Gonzalez, Bob Sanders, Jacob Lacey, Donald Brown, Kavell Conner, Gary Brackett, Jacques McClendon, Ricardo Matthews
In Brown's absence, the Colts will have Joseph Addai and Mike Hart handle the carries at running back.
The Colts will be missing two of their offensive weapons tomorrow night against the Redskins.
While the official inactive lists won't be released until one hour before game time, Adam Schefter tweeted some big news today.
Colts RB Donald Brown (hamstring), WR Anthony Gonzalez (ankle) and DB Jacob Lacey (foot) did not travel to Washington for Sunday's game.
The latest round of injury reports were posted this afternoon, and there aren't too many conclusions to draw quite yet.
The Redskins listed six players as questionable, and the Colts followed suit by listing seven. If you believe these reports Indianapolis could be without all three of their running backs, and Washington could be without its best player this season Laron Landry. Fortunately, very few of us actually believe these reports.
Washington Redskins: Out: Clinton Portis, RB (Groin). Questionable: Rocky McIntosh, LB (Head), Trent Williams, OT (Toe/Knee), Jammal Brown, OT (Knee), LaRon Landry, S (Wrist), Kareem Moore, S (Knee), Donovan McNabb, QB (Thigh)
Indianapolis Colts: Out: Kavell Conner, LB (Foot), Bob Sanders, DB (Biceps). Questionable: Joseph Addai, RB (Neck), Gary Brackett, LB (Groin), Mike Hart, RB (Hip), Donald Brown, RB (Hamstring), Austin Collie, WR (Foot), Pierre Garcon, WR (Hamstring), Anthony Gonzalez, WR (Ankle)
This might sound like the Colts will be missing a lot of offensive weapons, but Adam Schefter reminded us that Addai, Brown, Hart, Collie, and Garcon all participated in full practice today.
Curiously missing from the Redskins injury report is Albert Haynesworth. He is said to be a game-time decision and remains a candidate for the inactive list on Sunday.
The Indianapolis Colts don't run the ball much normally, but they were especially thin at running back last weekend, with both starter Joseph Addai and backup Donald Brown injured. However, they look like they will be a little more stocked at the position this week against the Redskins.
Why? It looks like Addai will be back in action. After practice yesterday, Addai said that he feels healthy enough to return to football immediately. Via Phillip Wilson of the Indianapolis Star:
#Colts RB Joseph Addai said if Sunday's game were Friday, he thinks he could play. Don't expect neck/shoulder injury to keep him out Sunday.
With Addai and Brown injured last week against the Chiefs, third-stringer Mike Hart had a strong game, so he'll be a factor as well.
I know what you're saying: the NFL is a game that changes week-to-week, eight years is basically an eternity. It's impossible to look at a team that long ago and try to extrapolate a gameplan for beating them today. Normally I would agree with you, but I don't think I've ever seen a team with as much continuity over as extended a period of time than the Colts.
Sure, most of the names and the faces have changed, but the most important player on the team is still in place. Peyton Manning has defined everything the Colts have tried to do since the team drafted him. Even if the rest of the team is completely different, there is a lot of value in knowing how to disrupt Peyton Manning. Finding success against the Colts usually means stopping Manning. That much hasn't changed at all since 2002.
As a result, there is a lot of real value in the breakdown of a Redskins win over Manning and the Colts that LaVar Arrington posted on his Hard Hits blog at the Washington Post.
The Colts entered the game as the clear favorite with Peyton Manning at quarterback, Edgerrin James at running back, and Marvin Harrison at wide receiver. They were stacked on offense, but we knew that if we killed the head, the body would die. And Manning was that head.
Arrington lists the things his team focused on to prepare for the game, and how that helped them slow down Manning.
The first was being organized and disciplined when they lined up before a play. Lesson: You can't telegraph your defense before the snap. If Manning recognizes the defense you want to play, he will adjust and find a way to beat it. Force him to adjust to the defense while the play is happening, not before he snaps the ball.
Second, and this is something we've seen in the past, you absolutely have to get his jersey dirty. Arrington speculates that he put at least half a dozen hits on Manning and nearly recorded an interception. Lesson: You can't give Manning time to pick the defense apart; you need to have a good pass rush to force the issue. Looking at you, Orakpo.
The last thing LaVar mentions is how the intelligence of Jessie Armstead helped his defense stay a step ahead of Manning. Lesson: Peyton Manning is known for changing the play and calling out all sorts of who-knows-what at the line; the defense needs to be led by someone who has the football IQ to make the appropriate changes on the fly. London Fletcher is the leader of the defense, can he keep up with Manning in a game of football chess? The football game could very well come down to who wins that mental matchup.
Coverage is always important on a core of dangerous Colts receivers, but the real focus of the defense should be putting pressure on Peyton Manning and staying a step ahead of the offense.
After five weeks of the NFL season the Redskins are still in first place in the NFC East. To ensure they stay in first, the Skins will have to beat the Indianapolis Colts in the primetime game on Sunday at FedEx Field.
The Colts are defined of course by their quarterback, Peyton Manning. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and maybe the hardest to game plan against. But after the Redskins shut down a potent Packer air attack in the second half on Sunday, there is hope that they can do the same against an equally pass-inclined Colts team.
We'll have all the latest news and notes about the game in this StoryStream.
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