The Washington Redskins should start issuing courtesy Tylenol with every game. Redskin Nation has been treated to some heart racing finishes so far through the first half of the season and it was another high-wire act on Sunday night against the defending AFC champion Indianapolis Colts. In a 27-24 loss, home fans left FedEx Field disappointed, but they shouldn’t have left discouraged. The AFRO examines why in its Three Downs segment:

First Down: Torain the Main

Washington rediscovered its running game against the Colts in a big way. Fill-in runner Ryan Torain carried the load 20 times for 100 yards and two scores, dishing out some punishing blows to would-be tacklers along the way. Torain ran determined and he ran with the type of vision that should give the team confidence in its ground attack as it moves forward through the season. Torain flashed what he could do in spot duty a few weeks ago against Philadelphia and he displayed his full potential on Sunday night. Despite some added additions to the offensive line, the team still struggles in pass protection. But Torain may be able to alleviate some of those issues if the team allows him a chance to grind it out like it did Sunday night.

Second Down: Fight for ol’ D.C.

Head coach Mike Shanahan has done an excellent job of restoring the heart in this year’s team. There were times over the past few years where the Redskins would seemingly give up during games even with the contest still relatively close. In the first quarter on Sunday night, the Colts struck a deflating blow to the home team after Peyton Manning hooked up with Pierre Garcon on a 57-yard bomb right after a Donovan McNabb interception. Then the Redskins offense ran it for one yard, allowed a sack for an eight-yard loss and ran it on third down for a two-yard loss, punting the ball away after a head-shaking series. Previous situations would’ve been cause for sulking, but the defense held on a three-and-out before McNabb marched the team downfield on a 10-play, 88-yard drive to even the score 7-7. The team arrived out of halftime trailing 17-7 but outscored the Colts in the second half 17-10 before falling short in the waning minutes.

Third Down: Defensive Stands

Make no mistake; the defense was shredded Sunday night against the high-octane Colts. Manning sliced a patchwork secondary for over 300 yards and two touchdown strikes. Even the Colts’ running game (which historically struggles) produced 170 yards on the ground. Indianapolis accounted for nearly 500 yards of total offense and although the defense was torrid for much of the evening, the game still came down to the last two minutes. And when the club needed a pair of stops to get back into the mix, the stop unit pulled through, forcing two three-and-outs in the last two minutes. Some offenses play it conservative when nursing a lead but not Manning and the Colts. Washington held Indianapolis to three points in the final period which should give the club confidence going forward after falling apart early in the game.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO