The Skins came out swinging on Sunday. At 1-2, things don’t look quite so bad. Of course, the 4 game stretch in front of us looks tough (Indy, Giants, Titans, and of course the Jags this coming Sunday), but I have every confidence that the Skins can emerge from it’s first 7 games with a 4-3 record. However things in the future may turn out, nothing can ruin my mood this week. Notable Stats Rushing Yards / Average Per Carry Skins – 234 / 5.7 Texans – 61 / 3.4 The Skins started with a 3 and out–3 carries to Portis, 9 yards, and a punt. As flashes of the previous two weeks came to my mind, Houston marched down the field and scored a touchdown in only a few plays. But the Redskins made things happen on the next drive. Brunell’s shovel pass to Portis technically goes on the stats as a pass, but the play looked and functioned like a run/screen hybrid. The offensive line created huge lanes for Portis and had some great downfield blocking, and 74 yards later the Skins never looked back. Betts ran it in from nine yards out and Houston’s defensive line spent the rest of the day getting pushed around. After 2 tough losses, I’m sure there was nothing that our offensive line needed more than a game where they could finally beat up on the other team rather than try and absorb every blitz and pass rush, which they had to do when the Skins were behind in Dallas and became pass-happy. Instead, the Dirt Bags pulled, pushed, and smashed their way across the field well into the fourth quarter, and it showed. 234 rushing yards for the Skins (315 yards if we count the shovel pass), and 3 rushing touchdowns. Time of Possession Redskins – 38:27 Texans – 21:33 When you rush the ball well everything else seems to fall in place. The time of possession shows, perhaps better than any other single stat, just how thoroughly Washington dominated yesterday. When the Skins offense got on the field, Houston couldn’t get them off, and their defensive performance only got worse late into the game. Betts, our backup RB who saw action mostly in the late 3rd and 4th quarters, registered 124 yards with a 7.8 yards-per-carry average. The Skins clock-eating drives went as follows: * 5 plays, 91 yards, 2:46 * 11 plays, 74 yards, 5:53 * 10 plays, 82 yards, 4:49 * 14 plays(!), 70 yards, 8:28(!) * 12 plays, 53 yards, 7:20(!) And our last drive ended the game with 5 plays, 22 yards, and the final 2:50 off the clock. The Skins’ drives of 14 and 12 plays, respectively, took up a quarter’s worth of clock time in the second half–after the Skins were already up by 2 touchdowns. When your offense performs that well, it’s only going to sit on, and improve, your lead. Number of receivers with more than 1 reception: Texans – 2 Redskins – 7 With their rushing attack shut down, Houston was 2-dimensional in their passing game: Andre Johnson and Eric Moulds combined for 179 of Houstons 208 total passing yards. Moulds himself had only 27 of those yards, and even though Johnson posed a legitimate threat to our Springs-less secondary, it simply wasn’t enough to make the difference in the game. Brunell, on the other hand, spread out the ball and did so with maximum efficiency. Completing his first 22 pass attempts (and setting an NFL record in doing so), he got the ball into the hands of each one of our playmakers. The only receiver to record less than 2 catches was David Patten (our 4th receiver!), whose quality, acrobatic, 3rd-and-9-to-go, 25 yard catch more than made up for the quantity of his receptions. Since our run game was so dominant, including a number of draw plays that thrashed Houston’s front 7, Brunell had his way on passing downs. Most of his completions were 4 to 5 yard throws, but the plays ran so well that our receivers managed a huge number of yards after the catch. Other Notes * Hidden in the Redskins’ ugly losses, and buried by the Redskins dominance on Sunday, was Derrick Frost, who has continued to punt very well. His stats on Sunday were 2 punts for 102 yards and a 56 yard average. One of his punts traveled 60 yards, sending the return-man back -peddling in order to make the catch. Coverage was superb on these kicks, and Frost looks as if he can be our man this year, something fans haven’t predicted but would certainly be comfortable with–provided he continues with this level of production. * Night and day; night and day. Of course, to Skins fans, we knew that this team had the potential all along, and that talk of the playoffs was never in vain. It was, as history has taught us, only a matter of time before Gibbs would put together a great looking offense. The short passes have continued, but Saunders seems to be in a groove with his playcalling. 4 and 5 yard completions are nothing to complain about when they are as diverse and exciting to watch as the plays that we saw on Sunday. * Skins fans are likely to hear from the media this week that our victory was against Houston, and therefore shouldn’t be seen as that significant–especially with respect to Brunell’s performance. Yet, neither Houston nor Dallas nor Minnesota can affect Brunell’s arm strength , and Brunell was in good form on Sunday. His downfield passes to Patten and Randle El in particular had considerable zip, and his accuracy was excellent. Brunell’s career may be over after this year, but he has certainly displayed that he still has the physical skills needed to make big plays. * Portis’ draw for a touchdown at the end of the half was significant for a number of reasons. The Redskins, faced with a long field and little clock, fought their way through penalties and frustrations to position themselves on the 30 with 9 seconds (and a timeout) left. The play call, a brilliant move by Saunders, caught Houston completely off guard. Portis showed remarkable vision and speed on the run itself, allowing the play to develop in front of him and hitting holes precisely when he needed to. Randle El showed remarkable hustle in making a downfield block that few receivers might make. And, it showed that the Redskins are, in fact, dangerous when they have the ball. (It also, in my opinion, put the first nail in Houston’s coffin, since they went into the locker room down 21-7 at the half, as opposed to 17-7 or even 14-7). * Rock Cartwright continues to shine on kickoff returns. He isn’t the fastest player in the league, but great kickoff returns are the product of great vision and timing more than they are raw speed. Rock contributed 3 returns for 62 yards (an average of 20.7 yards), and had 10 additional yards called back due to holding on the return. He could provide a few more game-changers as the season goes on. * The refs didn’t call a great game, and I’m afraid that the Skins might start to get penalty flags on reputation rather than for their actual play. The Skins drew 3 holding calls on the final drive of the second half, including 2 on one play. It seemed to me that the defenders were rushing around their corner, and once their progress was stopped they would throw their arms up in the air. To reward their moving performances, the refs would throw the yellow flag. A pass interference call later in the game gave Houston first and goal, leading to their second touchdown. On the play, Carlos Rogers closed in on Andre Johnson, who had a step on the cornerback. Carr’s pass was underthrown, and Johnson slowed down to adjust for the catch. As he slowed down, Rogers turned around and put his arms in the air. Rogers’ body ran into Johnson, and Johnson grabbed Carlos’ arms so that he would not make the interception. The refs called interference on Rogers. Our secondary continues to have frustrating experiences without Springs, and unfortunately I think this will continue, as refs are far more likely to flag a backup or young CB when there is a big-name receiver on the play. * Rookie DT Kedric Golston continues to impress. Drafted in the 6th round, Golston’s name was buried behind starters Salave’a and Griffin, not to mention 5th round pick Anthony Montogmery. However, Golston has proven to be a fighter, finding a starting spot early in the year and making big plays whenever he gets the chance. He recorded 2 tackles, half a sack, and a fumble recovery on Sunday. * Even in our losses, the linebackers have been a bright spot for the Redskins, and in yesterday’s victory it was no different. Marcus Washington in particular had a great day, recording 3 tackles, 2 passes defended, and a spectacular forced fumble on a David Carr scramble. Holdman co-led the team with 8 tackles (6 solo), and Marshall had 5 tackles and split a sack with Golston. The Texan’s TEs were not a factor in the passing game, and runs were routinely stopped at or near the line of scrimmage. * 31-15. . .a sweet victory no matter how you look at it….