The Washington Redskins bounced back to break a four-game losing streak with a 20-17 overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 26. On an uncharacteristically chilly day in Jacksonville, Fla., Washington jumped out to a 10-0 lead but eventually edged Jacksonville with an interception in overtime to set up Graham Gano’s 31-yard field goal. It wasn’t a pretty game, but it was an effective game for the ‘Skins.

First Down: Defense Answers Opportunity’s Knocks

Washington’s secondary had another uneven day in pass coverage as Jaguars’ quarterback David Garrard routinely found receivers Jason Hill and Mike Thomas for nice gains throughout the game. But despite yielding some plays, the Redskins’ defensive backs made a few plays of their own, basically winning the game for Washington. Carlos Rogers’ first-quarter interception set up Washington’s first touchdown, and Kevin Barnes’ overtime pick set up Washington’s game-winning score. If grades were being given out for Redskins performers on Sunday, their secondary would definitely be at the head of the class.

Second Down: Rex Not Great but Effective

Rex Grossman’s second start wasn’t spectacular, but he did manage to guide the team to a win, something that eluded him in a nice statistical day against his previous opponent. After racking up impressive numbers in the loss against Dallas, Grossman put up a modest game with 182 yards passing, one touchdown and an interception, but earned the win. The case is closed on McNabb’s tenure in Washington, and Grossman isn’t going to be their quarterback of the future. But the backup has shown he can manage a game and that’s all Washington needs to know if the team decides to draft a quarterback this spring.

Third Down: Dominant Run Defense

Although the secondary may have earned the week’s game ball, the run defense deserves credit as well. Operating with a cast of misfits and newly signed players, Washington held the league’s third-ranked rushing offense to 78 total yards, 39 of which came from Garrard. The Jaguars headed into the game churning out 151 yards per game, but the Redskins nearly sliced the average in half with some swarming defensive play. Though Jacksonville was missing star running back Maurice Jones-Drew, Washington controlled Jacksonville’s rushing lanes. The Redskins capitalized on their opponent’s lack of an elite player, a key to their success against the Jaguars.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO