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Offense Finds Its Rhythm At Right Time

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The Redskins' offense has suffered from bouts of inconsistency all season, but Sunday's 16-13 win over the Green Bay Packers may have been maddeningly inconsistent.

For the first three quarter, the Redskins' offense struggled against an aggressive Packers defense.

In the fourth quarter, suddenly everything seemed to click as the Redskins rallied from a 13-3 deficit to tie the game and send it into overtime.

The Redskins won 16-13 on Graham Gano's 33-yard field goal 6:36 into the extra frame.

"We had some opportunities [early in the game], but we didn't take advantage of them," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "The key is that we came back and took advantage of the opportunities late in the game. We made some plays."

Said quarterback Donovan McNabb: "The game is four quarters...You can't keep a team close around for four quarters. Something may happen. For us, today, something happened positive and we were able to come together as a unit to try to win the game."

This ending was hardly imaginable after the first three quarters.

The offense posted just 181 total yards of offense, 139 passing yards, 10 first downs and three points prior to the fourth quarter.

McNabb was 14-of-27 for 164 yards.

There was a botched shotgun snap from Casey Rabach to McNabb that resulted in a 22-yard loss and pushed the offense out of field goal range.

There were pass protection breakdowns up front as McNabb was sacked four times in the first three quarters.

And while Ryan Torain displayed tough running, he was mostly bottled up by the Packers defense.

"There was definitely frustration," tight end Chris Cooley said. "We weren't successful in what we were doing."

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The offensive turnaround started early in the fourth quarter.

The Redskins trailed 13-3 when McNabb tossed a 12-yard pass to wide receiver Joey Galloway to the Packers' 48-yard line.

Next play, McNabb rolled right to avoid pressure and he waited for a receiver to get open. He had Keiland Williams wide open in the flat, but he saw Anthony Armstrong streaking downfield ahead of safety Charlie Peprah.

McNabb threw a high-arching pass downfield and Armstrong leaped in front of Peprah for a 48-yard touchdown catch.

It was the spark the Redskins had been waiting for all game long.

"The big play that Anthony had I thought really started out a lot of good things," McNabb said. "We started moving the ball consistently and converting third downs."

McNabb said the run plays and short passes in the first half opened up the offense in the fourth quarter.

"I was just recognizing what they were doing and what we try to do is soften it up a little bit by running the ball as well as throwing some screens and some quick passes," McNabb said. "What that does is soften them up because they know we're going to get the ball out, which will open up opportunities downfield.

"So that was something we definitely talked about at halftime and we were able to construct some different plays that we all know and that we were effective with."

On the Redskins' next drive, Armstrong caught a 23-yarder downfield and then pulled in a deflected pass for another 13 yards to keep the momentum going.

The Redskins had a chance to tie the game on that drive with Graham Gano's 51-yard field goal effort. The kick sailed wide right, though.

Late in the fourth quarter, the offense stayed in rhythm thanks to tough running by Chris Cooley.

Cooley caught a pass across the middle and then broke a series of tackles to pick up 30 yards to the Packers' 35-yard line.

Three plays later, Gano came on for a 45-yarder.

This kick also sailed right, but the ball stayed just inside the uprights. The game was tied at 13-13.

In overtime, LaRon Landry's interception set up the Redskins' offense in Packers territory and helped set up Gano's game-winner, a 33-yard attempt that was right down the middle.

In the fourth quarter and overtime, McNabb was 12-of-22 for 192 yards.

The passing game found its rhythm at the right time.

Said Shanahan: "Part of the quarterback play is to look at yourself very critically, and I think Donovan will. At the same time, he also understands that you've got to find a way to win and he made those plays when he needed to make them.

"But you go back and you take a look at a lot of passes and say, 'Hey, if I had read a little bit quicker – that's what we're working on. We're working to get better and by working to get better, you start finding ways to win."

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