Here's five takeaways from the Washington Redskins' Week 11 42-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers at FedExField in Landover, Md.
1. The Redskins were just too much for the Packers down the stretch.
With two of the NFL's most productive offenses taking the field Sunday night, it was expected that a lot of points would be scored between the Redskins and Packers.
Both teams certainly didn't disappoint, but Washington's offense couldn't be stopped in the second half, scoring on all five of their possessions for 29 points.
Green Bay just couldn't keep up, though, as they started the third quarter with a missed field goal and then their last two drives ended in turnovers.
"We feel good about our personnel, that's for sure," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said after the game." We just feel like we needed to put it together and it was good to see him do that. There were some key third down plays—[Jamison] Crowder's. Jordan Reed had a couple of big third downs. Kirk [Cousins] had a big scramble and hit Chris Thompson on the sideline for that third down. Those are the ones that are most memorable—that keep drives alive and enable you to have an offensive performance like we had. Big third down conversions, big plays, but overall a good balance by the offense."
The offense would tear apart the Green Bay defense for six total touchdowns and 515 yards. It was the most yardage Washington collected in a non-overtime game since the 1991 season.
The defense, meanwhile, bent but did not break late against a quarterback who has made comebacks a routine over the years.
"Overall we rushed hard, flushed them out of pocket a little, but I liked the way they played," Gruden said.
2. Robert Kelley saved his best for last.Entering Sunday's game, only two running backs were able to gain big* *yardage totals against the Packers' run defense: No. 1 rusher Ezekiel Elliot and No. 2 rusher DeMarco Murray.
The pair ran for more than 100 yards against the Packers' stout defensive front while no other running back had more than 70 rushing yards.
Enter Kelley: a player that put himself on the map Sunday night with a 137-yard, three-touchdown performance.
"It felt good to go out there and compete like the offense we know we can be against a good team like the Packers," Kelley said. "They're probably not playing like we normally see the Packers play, but that's still a pretty good team out there and those guys still come with it."
The Tulane product had a productive, but relatively quiet night through the first three quarters as he had just 56 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Then the fourth quarter happened, as his play crescendo first with a one-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter followed by a loud finale, a 66-yard run followed by his third and final touchdown to put the game out of reach.
The offense line opened up gaping holes in Green Bay's defense and Kelley capitalized.
"The size of our line, I think, took a toll on them because towards the end, like I said, they stopped coming off as hard as they were in the first half," tackle Ty Nsekhe said.
Kelley brings a lot to the table, and as the Redskins look to get back into the playoffs once again, they're confident the rookie is someone that can be counted on down the stretch.
"He's the full package," guard Brandon Scherff said. "He can pass block, he can jump cut, and he's quick. I told him if he were a little quicker, like me, he would've scored on that long touchdown. I was just kidding, but we love blocking for him."
3. Josh Norman's ode to Peanut Tillman resulted in a key forced fumble.Even though the Redskins' offense was clicking in the fourth quarter, Aaron Rodgers wasn't letting the game get too far out of reach.
The Packers made a one-score game on the first play of the final frame with a touchdown pass to running back James Starks and then responded to a 70-yard Pierre Garçon touchdown with an eight-play, 82-yard drive that ended with another Rodgers touchdown pass.
Back in the Redskins' hands, Kelley would fight back with a one-yard touchdown score to push the Redskins' lead back to 11.
But with plenty of time to work with, the Packer offense went back to work seeking yet another touchdown score.
Norman had a different idea for how it would end this time.
After Rodgers got Green Bay down to the Washington 38-yard line, Norman punched the ball out of Jared Cook's possession on a six-yard reception, just as his former teammate Charles Tillman did so often during his career.
Norman said he played a "little bit of cat and mouse" with Cook before freeing the ball out of his possession.
"Got around there and saw the ball and I just wanted to make a play for the team," Norman said. "Got in there, and bam, got it out. I was like, 'Gosh, finally, man.' Some jubilation in that."
After a lengthy career with the Bears, Tillman decided to extend his career with the Panthers last season. So Norman saw first-hand how successful Tillman was with his punch, wanting to outdo the two-time Pro Bowler in the process.
"I got to see somebody really do it, and it made me think, 'Gosh, I want to be better at it than him,'" Norman said. "It's just putting another arsenal in my tool belt. Just using that and pulling it out when I see the opportunity because I can't get it sometimes during the aerial attack so I try to do what I can during the ground game. That's one of the elements I put into the game."
4. Kirk Cousins pours it onto the Green Bay defense.
How do you like Cousins now?
The Redskins quarterback put on a show against the Packers, taking advantage of a depleted secondary to the tune of 375 yards and three touchdowns along with a 145.8 passer rating, his highest passer rating since posting a 155.1 against the Dallas Cowboys in the regular season finale last year.
Even with windy conditions, gripped it and let it rip against the Packers. The Redskins averaged more than 11 yards per pass play and eight of the teams longest plays on the night – including five of the six longest – were passing plays off the arm of Cousins.
"The one to Pierre was a 70-yard touchdown. I don't think I could throw the ball 10 yards into that thing, but he spun it," Gruden said. "He's always been able to knife a ball through the wind, really. He's been a good quarterback in the rain and wind. He has a really good release and a good feel for it. So that one and the deep one to [Jamison] Crowder to the one-yard line was another great throw."
Cousins didn't want a repeat of last year's playoff loss to the Packers, either. He adjusted to what he saw from Green Bay's defense and made them pay.
"We came away feeling like there were plays that were there to be made and didn't get made," Cousins said, referring to that playoff loss. "Whether it was just preparing that much more or communicating better with how we want plays executed, how we want them run. That continuity and that experience together I think helps. Things were clicking tonight. It goes from top to bottom. It was a great job by the offensive line, protecting the receivers, getting open versus man coverage, zone coverage and running the football well. It was such a combination of so many people."
5. DeSean Jackson fought through some shoulder discomfort to help open up the defense.
Inactive last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, Jackson was questionable going into Sunday's game.
He had been dealing with a nagging shoulder injury for quite a while now and was limited during practice on Thursday and Friday.
But after feeling pretty good in warmups, Jackson was a go against the Packers. He hauled in four receptions for 51 yards and a first quarter touchdown on 49 offensive snaps.
"I can't really feel it right now," Jackson admitted of his shoulder after the game. "It will probably be a little sore later on in the morning, but it's a great win [and] a great team effort. Everybody pitched in and was a part of it. I'm just excited about it. [We] have a quick turnaround week. Everybody's focused on this next game coming up. It's going to be another big one. Every game from here on out is going to be a big one, so we just have to put it all together."
As Jackson gets back onto the field down the stretch, his speed will continue to open up things underneath for teammates. And maybe he'll get a few more long touchdowns in the process.
"His ability to get downfield and make plays is unparalled," tight end Vernon Davis said. "You won't find another DeSean in this league. You probably won't find another DeSean anywhere. He's fast, he's a football player. Great attitude, always come to practice with great energy and he's a good person to be around."