- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 3, 2013

The weight of high expectations has caused the Washington Redskins to crumble all season long. It is a trait unbecoming of a team that thrived under pressure late last season, when it won seven consecutive games to qualify for the playoffs.

Rarely, if ever, did the Redskins look during that final stretch like a team that couldn’t overcome obstacles.

It may be some time – two months, to be exact – before the Redskins‘ performance can be accurately assessed. On Sunday, however, when Darrel Young ran past the goal line and into a small cluster of fans seated behind the back corner of the end zone, the tribulations of a season that hasn’t gone entirely according to plan thus far seemed to fade away.

Young, the unheralded fullback, rushed four yards for a touchdown with 8:59 remaining in overtime, giving the Washington Redskins a 30-24 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at FedEx Field.

It was perhaps the unlikeliest of victories for the Redskins, whose defense faced first-and-goal on its own 1-yard line with 21 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Now, by virtue of their triumph, they’ll head into a Thursday night road game against the hapless Minnesota Vikings with a win behind them.

“To come back this week and find ourselves in a sticky situation and finally get the job done there, it’s a momentum boost going into this next game,” said running back Alfred Morris.

The Redskins (3-5) have trailed for significant portions of nearly each of their previous seven games this season, but Sunday was different. Their largest deficit was seven points, which they faced heading into halftime and for a decent part of the third quarter, which allowed them to move the ball both over the ground and through the air.

Young, a converted linebacker in his fourth year with the Redskins, had run for just one touchdown in his professional career. He ran one yard for a touchdown with 9:43 remaining in the third quarter, helping the Redskins tie the score at 14 after the ensuing extra point, and then scored the go-ahead touchdown on the same 1-yard dive with 14:17 left to play in the fourth quarter.

Then, as the Redskins marched 74 yards down the field in overtime, the call was for Young again. He dove to the right of the center, breaking through three tackle attempts before crossing the end zone to win the game.

“I’m just playing football, man,” said Young, who caught two touchdown passes last season. “I can’t think about what’s going to happen. [Left tackle] Trent Williams said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna carry you, run behind me,’ and I said, ‘All right.’ Well, I didn’t make it that far back, so I’ve just got to go to the opening.”

A 47-yard field goal by Kai Forbath gave the Redskins a 24-14 lead with 6:59 remaining, but the Chargers rallied. A 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Philip Rivers to rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen cut San Diego’s deficit to three points with 4:10 to play, and a nondescript drive by the Redskins led to the Chargers regaining possession at their own 8-yard line with 2:10 to play.

That was no bother for Rivers, who completed 29 of his 46 passes for 341 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He methodically moved the offense 91 yards over 14 plays, and a screen pass to running back Danny Woodhead was originally ruled a touchdown by officials until a review showed that it was Woodhead’s leg, not the ball, that knocked over the pylon when he dove for the end zone.

Having gained a first down on the lunge, the Chargers expected Woodhead to score on a planned 1-yard dive past the goal line. He was instead stood up in the backfield by Redskins linebacker London Fletcher and strong safety Brandon Meriweather for no gain, and a fade pass intended for tight end Antonio Gates on second down and a play-action rollout pass to the right for Allen on third down also fell incomplete.

The Chargers settled for the field goal, which Novak casually put through the uprights from 19 yards away with three seconds remaining in regulation. The Redskins answered, however, mixing in a balance of pass and run plays to advance to the Chargers‘ doorstep.

“We kept playing,” said wide receiver Pierre Garçon, who caught a career-high 172 receiving yards on seven catches. “[We] kept playing through the 60 minutes and a little bit of overtime, so that’s definitely a great thing that you want to have in the locker room with guys that are gonna keep battling, keep fighting.”

Quarterback Robert Griffin III completed 23 of 32 passes for 291 yards with an interception, bouncing back in some regards from the worst performance of his career a week ago in a loss to the Denver Broncos.

More importantly, however, he was able to work in complement with a strong running game, with running back Alfred Morris running 25 times for a season-high 121 yards and a touchdown.

“The way we won the game, I think that can be a turning point for us,” Griffin said. “It’s definitely a team bonding-type of game where you can come closer together.”

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