In the each of the first two games of the season, the Redskins have been faced with a critical fourth down while trailing in the game.
Against the Giants, it was a fourth-and-five on the Giants 37-yard line, at the end of the first half. Head coach Mike Shanahan put his faith in the offense to convert, and was rewarded with a 10-yard pass to Santana Moss for a first down. The drive ended with a game-tying touchdown run by Tim Hightower.
Against the Cardinals, yesterday, it was a fourth-and-three on the Cardinals 18-yard line, trailing by eight in the fourth quarter. Forgoing a chip shot field goal, Shanahan once again left his offense on the field, and was rewarded with a wide open Moss in the endzone for a touchdown.
No guts, no glory. Two weeks in a row, two fourth down conversions, and Shanahan described it was an easy decision.
“That was basic football,” he said after the game. “There wasn’t even a question about that, but we got them in the right coverage with the right play. Rex executed and Santana ran a great route.”
Obviously with the team’s back to the wall, the Redskins coaching staff is counting on a combination of things to go their way.
“You just never know; we have to get the ball in those types of situations,” Shanahan said. “Depending on what the defense is doing, and obviously everybody executed well.”
Yesterday’s decision to go for 18 yards and the score rather than three and the first down, was a call put in by the coaches and executed by Grossman.
“Looking at the defense, he knew what his first read was, and he was going to go for the touchdown if it was there,” Shanahan said. “Not all the time it’s there; it’s a read sequence.”
Grossman agreed with that description, saying: “I watched the corner and the play was designed to go to the flat,” he said. “He settled his feet, and I’d rather have a touchdown.”
That makes two of us. Or several million of us.
This team certainly has confidence early in the season, and so far it’s been well-placed in the sure hands of Grossman and Moss.