As the Green Bay Packers piled the points on the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night and moved on to the NFC championship game, Redskins fans everywhere wondered the same thing. How did the Redskins beat Green Bay 16-13 in FedEx Field in Week 5 this year? Let’s take a look.
The Redskins won the turnover ratio—They won it by just 2-1 but that was enough. In the early going Washington forced tight end Jermichal Finley to fumble deep in Packers territory. That opportunity was squandered when a shotgun snap sailed over Donovan McNabb’s head for a huge loss. But the second takeaway, well, more on that in a minute. McNabb threw an interception on a Hail Mary at the end of regulation.
Green Bay suffered some key injuries—Finley, their star tight end, went out for the season with a knee injury on the play where he fumbled. More importantly, linebacker Clay Matthews, who was spending a lot of time in McNabb’s face and causing havoc in general, left with a hamstring pull.
McNabb passed for 357 yards—The Redskins never did get much of a ground game going, posting just 51 yards rushing. But McNabb kept his team in it with five completions of 20 yards or more. A scrambling, 52-yard bomb to Santana Moss converted a third and 18 and set up a Graham Gano field goal that got Washington on the board with 17 seconds left in the first half.
Aaron Rodgers was containedon third down—Rodgers had a decent stat line, as he went 27 of 46 (58.7%) for 293 yards (6.4 yards/attempt). But the Rodgers and the Packers converted just 2 of 13 first downs (15%) so they were unable to sustain drives. That let the Redskins hang around despite the fact that Green Bay was playing better.
The Redskins rallied in the fourth quarter—Washington trailed 13-3 entering the fourth quarter. The Redskins got a spark and a much-needed flip of field position when Brandon Banks returned a punt 30 yards to the Washington 40. Two plays later McNabb launched one for Anthony Armstrong in the end zone. Armstrong made a leaping catch over safety Charlie Peprah for 48 yards and the touchdown to make it 13-10. One drive led to a 51-yard field goal that Graham Gano pushed to the right. The next time down the Redskins got Gano a little closer and his 45-yard field goal tied the game at 13-13 with 1:07 left to play.
A bit of good fortune—Rodgers moved the Packers into position for a 53-yard field goal with seven seconds left. It looked good most of the time it was in the air but it smacked off of the left upright.
A clutch play by their best player—Each team had a possession in overtime and punted. Then on a play from the Green Bay 24, Redskins end Jeremy Jarmon got pressure on Rodgers, affecting his pass to Greg Jennings. LaRon Landry swooped in and picked it off at the 39. A defensive holding call and a pass interference penalty helped the Redskins move into position for Gano’s 33-yard game winning field goal.