There are games where the team that plays the best doesn’t win, and this hard-fought battle was one of those situations. The Redskins’ offense and defense combined for a score of -21.8 and the Packers’ combined were +19.9. The Packers came up to an early lead, but let the Redskins stay in the game until the Redskins were able to make a few big plays and come out with the victory.
For the Redskins, this marked a second straight close victory against a quality NFC team as they stay tied for the NFC East lead. For the Packers, the loss added injury to insult, as Jermichael Finley, Donald Lee and Ryan Pickett were dinged up early, and Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews got hurt late.
Packers: Three performances of note
Last week ILB Nick Barnett got injured, and he could possibly be out for the year. His replacement was Desmond Bishop (+7.7), who had his first start since 2008, and was given the highest score for an ILB in PFF history. On more than 40 percent of the plays where he was blitzing, he was able to put pressure or worse on McNabb. He was also able to come up with six stops with a +3.7 run-stop rating. In five passes thrown at him, he only allowed two completions, which is a big upgrade on the Packers’ linebackers last year.
While Bishop had a game to remember, WR Donald Driver (-4.0) had one to forget. Using traditional stats, Driver had four catches for 58 yards, which isn’t terrible. What really hurt the team were the four drops Driver had, with some coming in key situations. To put that in perspective, Driver had eight drops in 16 games last year. In a time when the Packers relied on so many young players and backups, they needed Driver to make veteran plays and he didn’t.
Even though the Packers have pretty much abandoned the running game since losing Ryan Grant, RB Brandon Jackson (+2.9) quietly had his best game as a pro. He only had ten carries, but with it he had 115 yards, 90 of which came after contact. His 71-yard run led the Packers to their only touchdown drive.
Redskins: Three performances of note
Although the Redskins didn’t have a great game on offense, WR Anthony Armstrong (+1.1) had his best game. He was thrown at seven times and only had three completions — this doesn’t look like a strong game, but he made the catches when it mattered. All three receptions occurred in the fourth quarter, one of them being the team’s only touchdown and the other two for first downs.
Tackle Jammal Brown (-6.2) made the Pro Bowl in 2008 without really earning it, and he continued with his poor performance in this game. He allowed a sack, two hits and three pressures in just 27 pass plays before he was benched for Stephon Heyer (+0.6), who only allowed one pressure in 32 pass plays.
ROLB Brian Orakpo (+3.6) had a great rookie season and is following it up with an even better 2010. He has a positive rating in each game this year so far, and Sunday was the best performance of his career. This was mostly due to his two sacks, one hit and three pressures. He had two stops and was never thrown at, which gave him a positive rating in all three defensive categories. Orakpo is quietly having a Pro Bowl season so far.
The Packers continue to use many rookies heavily on both sides of the ball. Offensive tackle Brian Bulaga (-5.6) had his first start as a pro, and looked very uncomfortable on the right side of the field. He went up against Orakpo and allowed three hurries to him as well as two sacks and a hit to other defenders. He also had two penalties. Because of injuries, TE Andrew Quarless (-0.6) had his first extensive action, getting four catches for 51 yards, 15 of those being yards after the catch.
On defense, both DL Mike Neal (+4.6) and OLB Frank Zombo (-1.2) saw more time than expected due to injuries. Neal had a sack, hit and pressure along with a strong game against the run to show he can continue playing a larger role in the Packers’ defense. Zombo, on the other hand, had his fourth straight game with a negative rating as the Packers continue to struggle finding an OLB opposite Clay Matthews (+3.9).
The Redskins’ best rookie was return man Brandon Banks (+2.0). He had a solid punt return game, with three returns for 47 yards and with two kick returns for 33 yards. On offense, LT Trent Williams (-0.9) played the majority of the game before getting injured. He was by far their best lineman against the pass, allowing no pressure whatsoever, but was the worst against the run. Running back Keiland Williams (+0.1) has slowly been getting more and more snaps. He was mostly used on passing downs, when he only had one catch, and spent a third of those plays blocking.
The Redskins were able to have a game-winning drive with a very different offensive line compared to what they began with. Heyer started on the bench, replaced Brown at RT, and then finished at LT. Artis Hicks, who started at RG, ended at RT. Will Montgomery, who started on the bench, ended at RG.