Against four or fewer rushers, Beck was 17-for-28 for 217 yards, a touchdown and an interception for a passer rating of 82.0. He was sacked three times and also ran twice for 11 yards and a touchdown.
Against five or more rushers, Beck was 5-for-9 for 62 yards and a rating of 77.1.
• WR Anthony Armstrong had only one reception for nine yards in his first game back from a 2 1/2-game absence. He did well to hold on to a third-and-7 pass near the left sideline and get his feet in bounds to get the first down. But he also dropped a potential big gain on a first-down play in the second half.
Carolina’s cornerbacks were effective in jamming the Redskins‘ receivers; Armstrong lobbied officials for pass interference on more the one play, and WR Jabar Gaffney struggled to release freely on several slants. It’ll be interesting to see how the Redskins use Armstrong with WR Santana Moss out. It’s been a while since we’ve seen him catch a deep ball, but straight-line speed still is his best asset.
• Rookie RBRoy Helu made what appeared to be two mental mistakes in the fourth quarter. With the Redskins trailing 30-13, he cut back inside instead of getting out of bounds after a catch near the sideline. The cutback gained only a yard or so, which wasn’t worth the time lost. Because there were more than 5 minutes remaining (5:43 to be exact), the clock would have stopped running only until the officials spotted the ball, but any amount of time is worth saving in that situation.
Then, on the Redskins‘ last offensive play, he caught a checkdown on fourth-and-5 about 2 yards short of the line to gain. Instead of immediately turning upfield and gaining the necessary yardage, he first ran two steps laterally. That gave the defense enough time to rally to the ball and stop him short. The mistakes didn’t cost the Redskins the game by any stretch, but Helu must learn from them so he doesn’t hurt the team in future close-game situations.
• I’m eager to see rookie Niles Paul more involved in the passing game with WR Santana Moss sidelined with a broken hand. Paul doesn’t have explosive speed in and out of breaks, but his routes are precise and he understands leverage. He got decent separation during the training camp practices that were open to media, and he has sure hands.
The acrobatic catch with which he converted third-and-10 in the fourth quarter was impressive. He controlled his body well enough to turn and catch a high throw that was a bit behind him. I thought he landed out of bounds, but there wasn’t sufficient video evidence to overturn the call on the field.
• WR Santana Moss broke his left hand on a play that didn’t even count. On third-and-3 from the Redskins‘ 37 late in the first quarter, he ran a quick slant from the left. S Captain Munnerlyn fell on him, and QB John Beck’s pass was incomplete. But the down had to replayed because of offsetting penalties. Is that worse than Jeremy Jarmon tearing his ACL two seasons ago while covering a touchback?
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