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Patchwork Redskins Go Overtime to Beat Jaguars 20-17

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JACKSONVILLE -- Introduce the offense? Introduce the defense? No, the question of the day was if the Redskins should be introduced to each other.

No problem there. They got to know each other quite well in the postgame celebration after their 20-17 overtime victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hugs all around. Say hello to your new best friends.

Meet Sha'reff Rashad and Joe Joseph, Rob Jackson and Darrion Scott. Offer greetings to your new starting safeties, Kevin Barnes and Macho Harris.

Barnes ultimately provided the play of the game. Drafted a year ago as a cornerback, pressed into service as a safety, Barnes produced his first career interception in overtime to set up Graham Gano's winning field goal of 31 yards 2:47 into the extra session.

New faces, new times.

"I think it brought us closer together as a whole football team," Barnes said.

The Redskins, with their patched-together starting groups and in Rex Grossman's second start at quarterback, killed the Jaguars' playoff hopes on a cold and blustery afternoon at EverBank Field. Of course they first stoked those hopes, squandering a 10-0 lead before rebounding in overtime. This marked the Redskins' fourth OT game of the season and their third victory while working late.

"When you play a game like this and the (other) team's playing for a playoff spot and you're playing for pride, you get a chance to see what type of character you have on your football team," coach Mike Shanahan said. "You don't want to be in the position we're in but when you're in this position, you want to see how meaningful these type of games are when there's nothing to play for relative to a playoff spot."

Stripped down by injuries, with the roster turning over on almost a daily basis, the Redskins needed contributions not only from the remaining old heads but from the newbies as well.

The Jaguars (8-7) had beaten only one team this season that has a winning record and that didn't change. The Redskins (6-9) snapped a four-game losing streak and won for the first time in 2010 when they scored 20 points or more.

The help came from everywhere.

There was Jeremy Jarmon, rarely used this season, teaming with veteran Andre Carter for a sack at the end of the first half. Adam Carriker got a sack earlier. There was Barnes, blitzing David Garrard but just not finishing the play. There was an offensive line suddenly missing right tackle Jammal Brown (illness) keeping Grossman free of pressure and allowing no sacks in the first half. Punter Sam Paulescu boomed a couple of beauties before sailing a low line drive that provided aid and comfort to the enemy. Jackson, the linebacker filling in for the injured Bryan Orakpo, got a sack and a forced fumble.

The 10-7 halftime lead could have been greater but Grossman, throwing for Santana Moss from the Jaguars' 17-yard line, was intercepted by Derek Cox. Cox appeared first not to have either his second foot down inbounds or complete possession of the football but the Redskins challenge of this call yielded no fruit.

Grossman did not pick up where he left off against the Dallas Cowboys but he suffered more from Chris Cooley than the cold. The veteran tight end had at least three drops and possibly four in the first half alone. Grossman also had several passes tipped at the line in addition to the interception he threw.

The long-standing knock on Grossman – consistency – manifested itself throughout and leaped to larger-than-life status with nine minutes left in the third quarter. A nice little roll-out led to a nine-yard pass to Fred Davis and set up a second-and-one. Then Grossman, under some pressure, fired a ball into the ground just in front of him, drawing a 12-yard penalty for intentional grounding. That's just a drive-killer, plain and simple.

Grossman finished with 182 yards on 19 of 39 passing, with a touchdown and an interception and a passer rating of 60.0. Half a dozen drops hurt.

Asked about Grossman after the game, Shanahan said: "The main thing is we won the football game."

Throw out the changed cast of characters and this one looked exactly like nearly every other played by the Redskins this season. The plot remained the same – one team takes a narrow lead, can't press the advantage, the opponent hangs around and threatens to take advantage.

Think back to the opener, when the Redskins staved off the Dallas Cowboys' comeback. The win over the Green Bay Packers. The win over the Tennessee Titans. All winnable or lose-able, a play here or there. This one unfolded similarly. Were the Jaguars, with everything to play for, actually going to play? Or were the Redskins, with so many new people hoping to impress the coaches and earn jobs next year, about to pull off this upset?

Their fortunes took a turn for the worse after London Fletcher sacked Jags quarterback David Garrard and stripped him of the ball. Garrard recovered and, one play later, on a third-and-15, hit Jason Hill for 37 yards. The Redskins failed to finish what they started and the Jaguars then tied the game at 10-10 on Josh Scobee's 34-yard field goal.

Then Grossman began to move the team. After seven failed third downs earlier, the Redskins converted two in a row, both on Grossman's passes to Moss as the third quarter ended. They'd convert another, on a one-yard run by Mike Sellers, and then a fourth down, on Ryan Torain's twisting one-yard dive into the end zone for a 17-10 lead.

Guts call, guts ball.

That drive covered 68 yards and 14 plays and used 7:50 off the clock, the Redskins' second-longest touchdown drive of the year in terms of time.

When Grossman could not get a play off in time and the Redskins took a delay of game penalty, comparisons with past efforts inevitably bubbled up. For good reason. The Redskins came up a yard short of a first down, Paulescu punted a low liner down the field and Mike Thomas returned that stubby 35-yard boot 21 yards to the Redskins 42.

It only took the Jaguars four plays to score, with Garrard running 20 yards on a keeper and with 2:44 left, the Redskins no longer held the lead, the momentum, the psychic edge.

In overtime, the Jaguars won the toss, took the ball and turned it over on the third play. A small convoy of pass rushers led by Chris Wilson lit into Garrard as he tried to throw and Barnes made the interception. The Redskins executed a couple of safe-enough running plays and then brought Gano out to snag the Jags.


Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for Redskins.com and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at Redskinsrule.com and follow him on Twitter.com/LarryWeisman.

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