Redskins top Cardinals 22-21, alone atop NFC EastBy JOSEPH WHITE, AP Sports Writer Monday, Sep 19, 2011
LANDOVER, Md. (AP)—The Washington Redskins sit alone atop the NFC East. They are 2-0 for the first time since 2007, which just happens to be the last time they made the playoffs.
They’ve already matched their number of home victories from last season. They never scored more than 20 points in any of their wins in 2010; they’ve already done that twice in 2011.
They keep saying they’re a different team in their second year under coach Mike Shanahan. After Sunday’s come-from-behind, 22-21 performance against the Arizona Cardinals, it might be time to start believing them.
“You can say what you want to about the Redskins of old,” said Santana Moss(notes), who caught a touchdown pass as part of a fourth-quarter rally, “but coach Shanahan has come in here and set everybody’s mind to prepare for stuff like that, to know that even when we’re down and out, we can still hang in there and be what we want to be.”
There were certainly times when the Redskins looked like their old selves. They dominated most of the game statistically but kept finding ways to self-destruct. They got inside Arizona’s 40 on their first five possessions and had only 10 points to show for it, with a pair of interceptions by Rex Grossman(notes), a blocked field goal and a false start by left tackle Trent Williams(notes) at the 3-yard line among the miscues.
By early in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had taken an eight-point lead. Grossman pulled it out with a 73-yard drive, capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass to Moss on fourth-and-3, and a 48-yard drive capped by Graham Gano’s(notes) decisive 34-yard field goal with 1:45 to play.
Still, it wasn’t until last-man-standing cornerback Byron Westbrook(notes), on the field after injuries to three defensive backs, forced Chansi Stuckey(notes) to fumble to end the Cardinals’ final drive that the fans could finally begin the chant of “We Want Dallas” ahead of next Monday’s visit to the Cowboys.
“Throughout the course of the year, you are going to be put in a lot of adverse situations—and I feel like we are 1-for-1 on that,” said Grossman, who completed 25 of 43 passes for 291 yards with two touchdowns and the pair of interceptions to earn his first fourth-quarter comeback win since 2007.
The Cardinals (1-1) have to feel fortunate to be at .500 considering they’ve allowed 932 yards in their first two games, including 455 to the Redskins. They took a 14-10 lead on Beanie Wells’(notes) 2-yard run in the third quarter and were up 21-13 after Larry Fitzgerald’s(notes) 73-yard touchdown catch with 10:58 remaining in the game, but their offense held the ball for only 1:23 of the fourth quarter while Grossman methodically worked the comeback.
Asked about his team’s late-game defense, coach Ken Whisenhunt replied: “When did we play good defense the whole day?”
He also noted that the Cardinals are still adjusting to two new coordinators, so it’s a bit early to draw firm conclusions.
“We’ve been together for two games and training camp. It’s really early to make those judgments,” Whisenhunt said. “I think everyone in the NFL now wants to make snap judgments on a weekly basis. We changed our scheme; we knew it was going to be tough. I’m not pleased that we haven’t played better and we need to work to do that. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Arizona has lost eight straight to the Redskins and hasn’t won in Washington since 1998. Happy to extend that streak was Tim Hightower(notes), traded by the Cardinals shortly after the end of the NFL lockout. He ran for 96 yards on 20 carries and started a scuffle that netted a 15-yard roughness penalty against his old team. Rookie Roy Helu(notes) added 74 yards, part of the team’s 172-yard rushing day.
Yet Washington won by a mere single point. Shanahan might be 2-0 with this team, but he’s not short on coaching material.
“You have to be able to close the door,” Shanahan said. “We didn’t close the door. … You’ve got to find a way to win even though you’re going to make some mistakes. It’s a little bit of a chess game sometimes, and we’re lucky that we snuck one away from them.”
Notes: Arizona was short on inside linebackers after Daryl Washington(notes) was scratched with a strained right calf and Paris Lenon(notes) played hurt after spraining his right ankle in the first half. … Arizona QB Kevin Kolb(notes) hit 17 of 30 passes for 251 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. … Fitzgerald’s TD catch was his 66th, tying Roy Green for the Cardinals’ franchise record. He also had 133 yards receiving for his 27th career 100-yard game, tying Anquan Boldin’s(notes) franchise mark. … Westbrook was needed late in the game after CB Josh Wilson(notes) injured his back in the third quarter and CB Kevin Barnes(notes) went down with cramps. S DeJon Gomes(notes) injured a hamstring, and S LaRon Landry(notes) (hamstring) didn’t play for the second straight week.