WR JABAR GAFFNEY: Gaffney powered the offense’s resurgence by running quality routes and consistently getting open. Five of his season-high seven receptions resulted in first downs or a touchdown, and he also earned an additional third-down conversion on the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter by drawing a holding penalty.
His 16-yard touchdown reception at the end of the first half was his finest work. He got open to the post inside FS Gerald Sensabaugh with an excellent fake of a corner route. Gaffney sold it by turning his shoulders and head toward the outside. Sensabaugh, who was head-up on him, stepped toward the sideline, giving Gaffney the room he needed to separate back to the inside. Gaffney also made a sweet 12-yard catch at the left sideline during overtime. He fully extended to catch QB Rex Grossman’s pass, and he dragged his feet to ensure the completion.
Gaffney wasn’t perfect. Most notably, he missed a couple blocks in the run game, including on the end-around to WR Donté Stallworth on the second play of the game. Still, there’s no question he and Rex have a high comfort level with each other. He’s on pace for 65 catches and a career-high 949 receiving yards. I’d say the Redskins‘ trade of DL Jeremy Jarmon for him has worked out pretty nicely for them.
QB REX GROSSMAN: This game is at the top of the list of Grossman’s best performances as a Redskin, along with the season-opener against the New York Giants. His 65.8 completion percentage was his best since he completed 71.4 percent in Super Bowl XLI 24 games ago. And still he left a handful of completions out there.
Grossman generally threw on time and anticipated well. Because his arm isn’t especially strong, timing and anticipation are essential. He doesn’t always have the luxury of waiting until he sees a receiver break open.
“He does a great job anticipating,” WR Jabar Gaffney said Monday. “It gets him in trouble sometimes, but a lot of times it works out because as soon as you come out of your break the ball is right there.”
That’s what happened on his 16-yard touchdown pass to Gaffney at the end of the first half. After Gaffney separated from CB Gerald Sensabaugh by faking a corner route, the ball arrived before Sensabaugh could recover. We in the press box had an excellent view of that throw, one of the few times we can say that from our vantage point in the corner of the end zone near the tunnel to the Redskins‘ locker room. The window was tight, and Grossman deftly fit the throw in over LB Sean Lee.
A few other positive throws stand out. His 23-yard completion to WR David Anderson on a wheel route down the left sideline lit the match that got the offense burning. It was a perfect pass out in front of Anderson with CB Orlando Scandrick in close coverage. He hit Gaffney for 28 yards in the third quarter by sliding to his right to avoid the pass rush, keeping his eyes downfield and resetting.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give Rex props for his touchdown run. His top speed is only second gear for some quarterbacks thanks to a reconstructed ACL in his right knee and other leg/ankle injuries in his past, but that was the beauty of the play call there. Grossman ran to daylight off of C Will Montgomery’s back and sold out diving for the goal line.
As always, there were some negatives. Dallas didn’t turn his fourth-quarter interception into points, but it could have put the game out of reach. Without knowing for sure what WR Anthony Armstrong was supposed to do on the play, he got off the ball to the inside of Scandrick. Grossman threw the pass to the inside, possibly to take advantage of that release, but Armstrong ran a double move and relinquished that inside position. Perhaps Grossman meant to throw it outside and LB Bradie James’ hit took something off the throw.
Grossman missed Gaffney open twice near the right sideline, including a low throw on the run that would have converted third-and-7 with the game tied 17-17 in the fourth quarter. He also missed TE Fred Davis wide open over the middle for what would have been an easy 11-yard touchdown against Dallas’ 7-man blitz in the fourth quarter. He threw hot to Anderson instead, and it was incomplete.
Also, the timing was awkward on two incomplete screen passes to RB Ryan Torain. And finally, Grossman got away with the type of throw into coverage that defenses have capitalized on all season. CB Terence Newman drove on a pass over the middle to Anderson and was a half-step shy of picking it off.