(Landover, MD) — For two consecutive weeks, the Washington Redskins opened the game with a touchdown opening drive. Nevertheless, games are not won by who scores first or who starts strong. It’s about who finishes and capitalize when it counts, and the New York Jets (7-5) took charge in the fourth quarter as they scored 21 points in span of five minutes for the eventual win, 34-19.
“It was fantastic. I wish (running back) Shonn (Greene) would have just kneeled on it, gotten down to the one-yard line and kneeled on it,” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
“That was something I was a little upset with because of the simple fact we had to go back and play defense, you have to cover a kick, and sometimes I’ve seen guys get injured in those situations. And, that was something I was disappointed in myself for not telling them. I’ll take that responsibility.”
The Redskins (4-8) set the tone for the contest, as they were balanced in their attack offensively. Redskins rookie running back Roy Helu had some explosive runs, which help set up big passes for tight end Fred Davis—none bigger than the 42-yard pass completion to put Washington in scoring possession for the eventual two-yard touchdown run by Helu for an early 7-0 lead.
“I just thought we were very average collectively on offense,” said Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. “We started out good and for whatever reason we lost—I wouldn’t say we lost our poise—but they got the job done and we didn’t. I though we took it to them in the first quarter and a half.
“We had the momentum going, and all of a sudden, it didn’t seem like we could get anything going,” he added. “They picked up their run defense a little bit, and we went in the other direction. I thought [running back Roy] Helu started out exceptionally, and at the end, we were just pretty average.”
In traditional New York fashion, the Jets matched the Redskins output with 10 points and kept the game close. However, the Jets’ Achilles heel has been their special teams, haunted by two turnovers on punt returns this season.
With :59 remaining in the first half, Jets rookie wide receiver Jeremy Kerley muffled a punt prior to receiving a big hit by Redskins rookie wide receiver Niles Paul. Redskins linebacker Perry Riley recovered the ball on the Jets 18.
To no avail, the Redskins could not capitalize on the turnover with a touchdown despite getting to the Jets 5-yard line as they settled for a field goal, making the game a 13-10 contest at the half.
Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman has shown patterns of inconsistency in the second and third quarters of Washington’s last two games, as he did not orchestrate a first down in the third quarter against the Jets. Grossman had several passes thrown that could have been pick-sixes for the Jets.
Throughout the Redskins 2011 campaign, they have been led by their defense, and in true Washington form, their defensive unit stepped up the challenge, as they held the Jets to three points in the third.
Perhaps the biggest stance of the Redskins defense came by way of a three and out against the Jets after Helu fumbled the ball at the Washington’s 29. Jets kicker Nick Folk attempted a 40-yard field goal with 4:24 remaining in the third quarter to take the lead, but missed.
Apparently, Grossman and the Redskins offense appeared to start clicking midway through the fourth quarter after a 46-yard field goal by kicker Graham Gano to take a 16-13 lead.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez started to do what he does best after having a quiet afternoon and finished 19 of 32 attempts for 165 and a touchdown. He kept plays alive with his foot to move the ball down the field towards a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Santonio Holmes for a 20-16 lead.
“I think we felt their cornerbacks and safeties sitting on some of our shorter routes, and we had called quite a few shorter routes, a lot of quick game stuff so it was a good opportunity to get a double move on, and we got the perfect coverage,” said Sanchez.
“We had plenty of time to throw it. That, and our offensive line did a great job in protection all day, and you just have to get the ball there, and [Holmes] did the rest. It worked out really well for us.”
A minute and nine second later, the Jets pound the ball for a nine-yard touchdown run by running back Shonn Greene, shortly after Grossman—who finished 19 of 46 attempts for 221 yards and an interception—was destroyed by Jets linebacker Aaron Maybin, causing Washington’s signal caller to fumble.
“I told Maybin that sacks win games and he responded to me saying, I know it coach,” said Ryan. “Then he went out there and got one, then I said to him that a fumble was even better, so I am proud of the effort on his part. They know where he stands now as a player.”
After a late 43-yard field goal by Gano, Greene went 25 yards for another touchdown on first-and-10 with 1:59 left in regulation against a worn down Redskins defense.
“It’s frustrating. You come out in the second half and I think we had three series of three-and-outs,” said Shanahan.
“On offense we had a chance to get the momentum of the game, and we didn’t. They come back with a pretty good play with a little sluggo call. They got the touchdown, but we’re still in the football game.
“I’m just disappointed in the way we finished,” he continued. “We didn’t get much going on offense. It’s hard to win the football game when you finish like we did.”