The Washington Redskins and head coach Mike Shanahan went into week 15 with what is being billed as “evaluation mode”. It happened the same week the Redskins were scheduled to play their biggest divisional rivals (if you as any Redskins fan) at “Jerry’s World”. David Buehler made a 39-yard field goal with 50 seconds left to drop the Redskins to 5-9. It was a game that Mike Shanahan wanted to use to evaluate players that he needed to look at, at the end of a lost season.
Quarterback Rex Grossman started his first game since November 9, 2008 and completed 25 of 43 passes for 322 yards while throwing four touchdowns and half as many picks, and had the Redskins moving in and out of the huddle at a much quicker pace than that has been seen from the team at any time that Donovan McNabb has run Kyle Shananhan’s scheme.
At some point after the half time break something hit Shanahan, I’m not sure which Shanahan was hit or it may have been both of them. Whatever it was it made them understand what is suppose to happen when the Washington Redskins play “that team in Texas”. Defensive Coordinator Jim Hasllet continued his evaluation by giving backups Jeremy Jarmon, Kevin Barnes and Perry Riley got major playing time, Barnes even played strong safety when Reed Doughty was injured although that’s not his position. Hasslet’s unit kept the Redsakins close as best they could by only giving up field goals after drives that reached the Redskins’ 20, two and three yard lines, on two other drives that reached the Redskins one and eighteen yard lines the defensive gave up no points at all.
Shanahan couldn’t reinsert McNabb into the Redskins plans but he knew he had to play to win the game. It didn’t matter the score was 27- 7, he had playmakers at his disposal and he decided to evaluate guys like Terance Austin, Roydell Williams and Anthony Armstrong some other time. When WR Santana Moss caught that 10 yard slant to close the gap to 27-14, the coach felt like he might be on the right track. Once he heard the “Cooooley” chants after the TE made his first catch of the game he knew he had to play for today and not for what he might have next year. On the Redskins next possession Moss caught a 5 yard TD followed by a Chris Cooley catch for a two point conversion, Shanahan had the team within one score. After the defense forced a three and out, Cooley caught his first touchdown since the first Philly game. FB Mike Sellers catch on the two point conversion tied the game at 30.
In the end Rex Grossman had 50 seconds to move the Redskins from their own 20 yard line into range to give kicker Graham Gano a chance to answer Buehler’s 39 yarder. Grossman moved the offense to the Redskins 47 before throwing a interception to Terrance Newman to end the comeback.
It appears that Mike Shanahan’s nationally criticized decision to bench Donovan McNabb isn’t as insane as most of the football minds thought. After the Redskins scored 30 points for the first time since Week 14 last season, the fans seem to be willing to give both Shanahans at least another week or two. Three days after he replaced McNabb as the Redskins starting quarterback, Grossman matched his career best, throwing four touchdowns in a game. Grossman was sacked five times, he fumbled once and threw two interceptions as the Redskins dropped another game after scoring 20 points or more (0 – 5), and moved Washington into the top ten of the next NFL draft.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Bernie Marshall