- The Washington Times - Monday, December 14, 2009


When calls went against his team during his second tour of duty as coach of the Washington Redskins, Joe Gibbs would complain that “there was a lot of mystery stuff going on” but never get any satisfaction from the powers that be on Park Avenue.

On Sunday, Oakland’s latest embattled coach, Tom Cable, certainly could’ve been forgiven for thinking that there was a lot of mystery stuff going against the Raiders, never the league office’s favorite franchise.

First, Louis Murphy’s diving catch against Justin Tryon that would’ve given Oakland a first down at the Washington 28-yard line was overruled by instant replay. That forced a punt on which Hiram Eugene seemed to time his tackle of Antwaan Randle El perfectly only to be penalized for interfering with the returner’s opportunity to catch the ball despite the lack of a fair catch signal.

Then after the Redskins turned that break into the go-ahead touchdown, instant replay overruled a 17-yard catch by Chaz Schilens, forcing the Raiders to settle for a 66-yard field goal try by Sebastian Janikowski, which fell well short. So Washington went into halftime with a lead that it never surrendered en route to ending three weeks of heartbreak by pulling away for a 34-13 victory.

Q: How good should I feel about this triumph?

A: It was hard-earned, especially considering the Redskins had to fly 3,000 miles for a meaningless game. But they actually played better in losing the previous three weeks to Dallas by a point and Philadelphia and New Orleans by a field goal apiece in games they led in the fourth quarter.

Q: Is Jason Campbell making a case to be the Redskins’ quarterback in 2010?

A: Campbell has put together the best five-game stretch of his career. He also probably will be a restricted — not an unrestricted — free agent because an extension of the collective-bargaining agreement by March seems increasingly unlikely. And while whoever replaces Jim Zorn will have a huge say in next year’s quarterback, Campbell is no favorite of owner Dan Snyder and front office boss Vinny Cerrato. Expect a rookie to run Washington’s offense in 2010.

Q: How come the Redskins just don’t bench safety LaRon Landry? He can hit like a sledgehammer, but he can’t cover anyone.

A: Can’t argue with you. Word before the game was that Landry was moving to strong safety with Kareem Moore taking over at free safety. That didn’t happen most of the game, and the Raiders, after seeing how Drew Brees and the Saints burned Landry last week, went after him seemingly whenever he was in solo coverage.

Landry did make a nice diving interception in the fourth quarter.

Q: How was Graham Gano’s debut?

A: The kid looked as if he belonged, nailing a 46-yarder and a 41-yarder in sloppy conditions and getting in on two tackles during the first half.

Q: Are Fred Davis, Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly legitimate playmakers now?

A: Davis certainly has produced since taking over for injured Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley at midseason. Thomas has been making at least one big catch a game during recent weeks. Only Kelly, still a backup, hasn’t been that productive but did make a big third-down catch Sunday to set up the clinching touchdown by new starting running back Quinton Ganther.

Q: Even watching on TV, I could hear the crowd booing JaMarcus Russell when he replaced the injured Bruce Gradkowski to start the second half. What’s the deal with that?

A: The top pick in the 2007 draft has been a bust, which is why Gradkowski, who was let go by Tampa Bay and Cleveland, replaced him last month. Gradkowski rallied the Raiders past AFC North leader Cincinnati and defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh. On Sunday, he injured a knee when Chris Wilson sacked him during the final minute of the first half.

Q: What happens the rest of the season?

A: Beating the Raiders doesn’t change the Redskins’ status as serious underdogs against the Giants, Cowboys and Chargers. A 4-12 finish is still likely.

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