ES Coverage & Interactive Game Day Thread: 2012 Redskins vs Panthers
Panthers 21 - Redskins 13
Let me take you back to October 31, 2004.
There I was at FedEx Field in the best seats I've ever had for a Redskins game. I'm two rows from the field, around the 30 yard line.
The Redskins are down 20-14 in the fourth quarter. I'm praying for a comeback. And the football gods seem to be listening as Mark Brunell connects with Clinton Portis on a 43-yard pass that ended with Portis leaping into the end zone in celebration. All the team had to do was kick the extra point and they'd have the lead and most likely win the game.
I was elated. Portis ran right by me on his dash into the end zone. I jumped up and down, high fived everyone in my section and cheered until my throat hurt.
That's when I saw the flag.
And I watched, in horror, as the head official turned on his microphone and announced that James Thrash had been flagged for an illegal motion penalty. It was a phantom call that head coach Joe Gibbs would later describe as “an absolute mystery.” And it cost the 'Skins the game.
The very next play, Al Harris intercepted the ball. The Packers, led by Brett Favre, marched down the field for an insurance touchdown and ended up winning 28-14.
I bring this painful memory up because, as I'm sure you've all heard numerous times this week, the Redskins game today against the Panthers will supposedly decide who wins the Presidential election Tuesday night. If the Redskins win today, Barack Obama will supposedly be assured a victory. If the Panthers are victorious, Mitt Romney will be our next President.
This has always been the case. Since 1936, when the then Boston Redskins defeated the Chicago Cardinals, ensuring a successful reelection for Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 'Skins have correctly predicted 18 elections.
They've only been wrong once. In 2004.
Either the Redskins should have won that fateful Sunday or John Kerry should have beaten Bush. But for some reason, things didn't work out.
That's the only "Election game" I've ever watched in person ... until today.
So while there are plenty of subplots this week (RGIII vs. Cam Newton, the Redskins declaring this a "must win" game, the suspense over which player will be the latest to be flagged for a moronic personal foul, etc.), the one I'm most intrigued by is whether or not, this time around, the football gods get it right. Am I bad luck for this whole Presidential "Redskins Rule" thing or did I just have the bad fortune to be there the one year the refs tried to cheat the system so their candidate got elected?
Only time will tell.
QB Rex Grossman
S Brandon Meriweather
CB Richard Crawford
G Adam Gettis
OL Maurice Hurt
WR Pierre Garcon
DE Doug Worthington
QB Jimmy Clausen
WR Brandon LaFell
WR Joe Adams
CB Ron Parker
S DJ Campbell
DE Antwan Applewhite
DE Thomas Keiser
12:34 PM - From the Redskins' official press release: "The alumni scheduled to attend today's Homecoming represents 1,024 combined seasons with the team, 80 Super Bowls, 43 members of the 80 Greatest Redskins, 21 members of the Redskins Ring of Fame and nine Pro Football Hall of Famers."
1:01 PM - STOP DEFERRING!!!
1:10 PM - Even though the Panthers managed to get across the 50-yard-line with relative ease, the Redskins defense did tighten up and force them to punt instead of once again forcing RGIII to take the field for the first time with a deficit. I still don't like their decision to defer each week though.
1:14 PM - Thank goodness Carolina is awful. A personal foul penalty on the defense keeps the Redskins from going three-and-out.
1:17 PM - Alfred Morris is good.
1:21 PM - Kai Forbath connects with a 47-yard field goal for the first points of the game. Obviously, the 15-yard personal foul call on Carolina comes back to haunt them, though they are probably happy the 'Skins only came away with three. 12 plays, 68 yards, six minutes and 45 seconds. 3-0
1:32 PM - DeAngelo Williams has nothing but daylight as he rushes 30-yards for a Panthers touchdown. It's his longest rush of the season and he made it look easy. Seven plays, 69 yards, three minutes and 56 seconds. 3-7
1:36 PM - Apparently an official blew a whistle on Williams' touchdown, thinking he ran out of bounds. Being in the press box, you can't hear the whistle, so it's hard for me to make a judgement call on that. But if that is the case, then obviously the play should have stopped when the whistle was blown, even if it was blown by mistake.
END OF FIRST QUARTER
1:53 PM - The Redskins convert on fourth down with a six yard bullet from RGIII to Joshua Morgan.
1:54 PM - Talk about threading a needle. The very next play, Griffin connects with Morgan again, sailing the ball past three Carolina defenders.
1:59 PM - Two-for-two on fourth down today.
2:03 PM - The Redskins try to go for it on fourth down once again and this time come up short. Two yards out from the end zone, Robert Griffin III tries to run to the right, but there just isn't a lane. He ended up with no gain and the Redskins turn the ball over on downs. After driving the ball 78 yards on 17 plays, the 'Skins come up empty handed.
2:18 PM - Well, that sucked. 12 plays, 98 yards, four minutes and 16 seconds. Cam Newton connects on a 19-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith. 3-14
2:48 PM - The Redskins look flat on both sides of the ball right now. Not sure what the problem is, but they look lethargic.
2:53 PM - RGIII with a 25-yard pass to Leonard Hankerson. That certainly livened things up a bit.
2:59 PM - Fourth-and-three and this time the Redskins kick it. 10 plays, 69 yards, five minutes. Kai Forbath connects on a 25-yard field goal. A solid drive, but they still need touchdowns instead of field goals at some point today. 6-14
END OF THIRD QUARTER
3:21 PM - This is not going well ...
3:24 PM - Cam Newton connects with an 82-yard pass. The defense looks completely deflated. This team is sinking quickly.
3:26 PM - Cam Newton rushes into the end zone on a one-yard run. All of that set up by the 82-yard pass and a pass interference call on Josh Wilson in the end zone. Not the defense's best series, certainly. Three plays, 91 yards, one minute and 31 seconds. 6-21
3:30 PM - Today's announced attendance is 79,767.
3:51 PM - The Panthers miss a 50-yard field goal. So the Redskins have that going for them.
3:54 PM - And Logan Paulsen beans a ref in the face with the ball while trying to toss it to him so tat he could spot it after the play. Feel free to make your own jokes about the ref's eyesight on that exchange.
4:05 PM - Evan Royster rushes two yards for a touchdown. 13 plays, 60 yards, two minutes and 54 seconds. 13-21
To see ExtremeSkins game photos click HERE
To listen to comments from Mark Rypien click HERE
To listen to more from Mark Rypien click HERE
To listen to comments from Jay Schroeder click HERE
To listen to comments from Ken Harvey click HERE
To listen to comments from Charles Mann click HERE
To listen to comments from Clinton Portis click HERE
To listen to comments from Barry Cofield click HERE
To listen to comments from London Fletcher click HERE
To listen to comments from Cornelius Griffin click HERE
To listen to comments from Logan Paulsen click HERE
To listen to comments from Perry Riley click HERE
To listen to comments from Aldrick Robinson click HERE
To listen to comments from Trent Williams click HERE
To listen to comments from Josh Wilson click HERE
To listen to comments from Darrel Young click HERE
In his press conference after the game, Mike Shanahan was asked how tough a blow this loss was after he had deemed it a "must-win" game. This is what he had to say:
Those aren't exactly the words of encouragement you want to hear from the head coach after a tough loss.“[It’s] obviously very disappointing. A must-win game is a game that gives you a chance to play for a playoff spot. At the midway point when you’re 3-5, it’s going to be must-win to get in the hunt. When you lose a game like that, now you’re playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come. Now, we have a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at. Obviously, we’re not out of it statistically. Now we find out what kind of character we have and how guys keep on fighting throughout the rest of the season.”
But that's how incredibly deflating this loss was. In front of 76,000 Redskins faithful on what had been dubbed their "Homecoming game," the Washington Redskins were looking to gain some momentum back against a 1-6 team. With a slew of alumni players in the house - and 10 iconic players getting added to the Ring of Honor - the atmosphere before the game began was electric. Fueled by nostalgia from seeing all of the great players from the glory days, there was a sense of optimism that this Redskins team could get a win today against Carolina and go into their bye week 4-5.
That would give them two weeks to recharge their batteries and gear up for a winnable game against their division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. A win in two weeks against Philly would put them at 5-5 and give them a sense of purpose with six games left. It meant an outside chance at a playoff run if they could keep building on their wins and Robert Griffin III could keep playing the way he did in his early games.
But instead, the team came out flat today and was completely unprepared for the abysmal Carolina Panthers. On both sides of the ball, they couldn't get anything going. The defense has struggled all year, but in the early stretch of the season they were at least getting turnovers and sacks and creating plays here and there. Today there was none of that. And the offense, which had been the strength of this team, struggled as well. They did end up with 151 rushing yards, but the 'Skins were only able to get 186 net passing yards (they had 215 gross passing yards, with 29 yards lost attempting to pass). Griffin finished the day 23 of 39 for 215 yards with zero touchdowns or interceptions and a passer rating of 74.2.
It's hard to say exactly where the team is now. While some guys, like Darrel Young, remained optimistic that this team could rebound and somehow go 10-6 and make a playoff run, it certainly seems like this season may already be over. Any time your head coach begins talking about having "a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at," that's never a good sign.
And year three into Mike Shanahan's tenure with Washington, it's hard to say just how much better the team is now than when Shanahan took over. Certainly, Robert Griffin III appears to genuinely be the franchise quarterback they've been looking for. But what pieces around him they actually have and how close they are to competing for championships are really hard to say.
After a promising start to the season in New Orleans and some strong momentum out of the gate, clearly this team has stalled lately. The loss today was their most deflating of the year and the one that very well may have put the nail in the coffin of this season. Certainly not the way you want to spend what should have been your feel-good Homecoming game.