The Washington Redskins beat both of the teams playing for the NFC championship on Sunday. Two weeks after beating the Green Bay Packers at FedEx Field, they went to Chicago and walked out of Soldier Field with a 17-14 win.
Yesterday we looked at how the Redskins beat the Packers. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the Bears game.
Albert Haynesworth was a beast—His stat line didn’t look like much with three tackles and a sack. But Albert disrupted the patched-together Bears offensive line all day long. He had two highlight-reel plays. In the first quarter he got the poor Chicago lineman who was trying to block him moving backwards and Haynesworth sacked Jay Cutler by pushing the lineman into him. Then in the third quarter with the Bears holding a 14-10 lead, Cutler tried a sneak on first down at the Redskins half yard line. Haynesworth took a leap over the top of the pile and stopped Cutler. The quarterback fumbled and London Fletcher recovered.
Lovie Smith kept the red flag in his pocket—On that play, replays indicated that Cutler poked the ball over the plane of the goal line before the ball was knocked away. But Bears coach Smith had challenged the previous play, a long pass to receiver Earl Bennett where he was ruled down on the half yard line. He lost that challenge and Smith said that he was reluctant to burn his last challenge so he let the play stand. Instead of the Bears holding a 21-10 lead, which may have been too much for an inconsistent Redskins offense to overcome, it remained a one-score game.
The Redskins averted disaster—Right after that takeaway there were two plays that could have put the game right back into the Bears’ control. First, after they got some breathing room on a Donovan McNabb pass to Santana Moss to the 13, McNabb was sacked and fumbled at the five. McNabb managed to come up with the ball. On the very next snap, McNabb threw a short floater that the Bears picked off and ran into the end zone. However, the play clock ran out just before the snap and the play was nullified.
DeAngelo Hall took over—Hall got the first of his NFL record-tying four interceptions soon after that, a diving pick of a Cutler pass intended for Devin Hester. McNabb returned the favor a few plays later, throwing a deep pass for Joey Galloway that Daniel Manning intercepted at the Chicago 22. From there, Chicago embarked on a 10-play drive down to the Redskins 13. On third and seven from there, Carlos Rogers blitzed, forcing Cutler to throw off of his back foot. Hall snatched the floating pass near the left sideline and he was off to the races with a 92-yard return for a touchdown and a 17-14 lead for the Redskins.
The Redskins were able to hang on—On the possession after Hall’s pick six, the Bears put together another drive into Redskins territory. After Matt Forte caught a short Cutler pass and was on the move towards the red zone, Rocky McIntosh knocked the ball loose and Adam Carriker recovered the fumble at the Washington 25. After Hall’s third interception gave the Redskins a short field at the Chicago 13, Graham Gano bounced 37-yard field goal try off of the left upright. Then with 2:24 left, Hall choked off Chicago’s last threat. From the Bears 37, Cutler threw deep for Johnny Knox but Hall got his record-tying fourth interception at the 13. The Redskins killed the clock with a 14-yard pass from McNabb to Chris Cooley and Ryan Torain’s 25-yard run.
Join me for a marathon chat during both conference championship games on Sunday. We can talk about Packers-Bears and Jets-Steelers, the NFL in general, the Redskins draft, free agency, and whatever else comes to your mind. We'll get going when the NFC game kicks off at 3:00 and roll on through the end of Jets-Steelers. Come on by!