Here in the DC market, the Redskins have already earned a playoff berth, and played the Cowboys last night with home field advantage throughout at stake. Never let it be said that there are any more optimistic, or blindly loyal, fans in the country than Redskins fans. And nothing gets their blood pumping more than a classic Redskins-Cowboys game. Sure, the last meaningful game between these two franchises took place on Thanksgiving Day 1974 (thanks to Clint Longley), but never let that inconvenient truth get in the way of a good rivalry.
I spent the better part of my drive time yesterday listening to the beat reporters prognosticate about last night’s matchup, and I came away ready to fully enjoy the game now that I had the insider knowledge necessary to more deeply appreciate the action. Thank goodness for pre-game analysis, stats, and more analysis and more stats. Now, in the wake of the Redskins defeat at the hands of Jerry and his ‘Boys, I share those insights with you. These reporters were spot on, as you will see.
Here are the collective Keys to the Game, as heard on talk radio, ad naseum:
1. Protect the football. Win the turnover battle. Don’t fumble, and get fumbles. Don’t throw interceptions, and get interceptions.
2. Control the line of scrimmage. If our guys push around your guys, we have a better chance at winning.
3. Minimize the penalties. If we move forward on the field, that is better than moving backwards.
4. Control the time of possession. If we have the football, we have a better chance at scoring points than if the other team has the football. You need to actually have the football to score.
5. Special teams. We don’t know exactly what this means, but after offense and defense, it is the 3rd most important on field consideration.
6. Don’t allow the big play. Lots of small plays added together could equal one big play, so refer back to Key to the Game #4 if you are confused.
7. Pressure the quarterback. If the other team’s quarterback finds it difficult to throw the ball, that is good for our team. This is sometimes expressed with the contrarian, “Protect the quarterback”.
8. Run the football. The run establishes the pass. The pass establishes the run. Pretty much do both, the pundits recommended.
9. Stretch the field. Since the other team is only allowed 11 players at a time, it is harder for those 11 to protect a stretched field than a non-stretched field.
10. Score more points than the other guys. This one could probably be #1, but then we’d have 10 hours less per day of riveting pre-game programming with former jocks, retired meteorologists, and assorted amateur humorists.
Feel free to drop these morsels of wisdom into your next water cooler discussion before the next game you plan to dissect this weekend. The Keys to the Game do not discriminate by team, or by week of the season. No attribution necessary, you’re welcome.
I can’t wait for the Monday Night Football post-game autopsy on the drive home. It’s been 3 weeks without a quarterback controversy in DC, and it was getting a bit dull.
Is it too late for Colt Brennan?