In a lost season for the Redskins, a patchwork team of practice squad players and new faces offer a glimmer of hope.
Eliminated from the playoffs and already in the first phase of rebuilding, the Redskins on paper looked like they had no business stealing a win from the Jacksonville Jaguars. But the Jags showed little enthusiasm in a game they needed to win, and it was the rag-tag Redskins that walked out of the game with a 20 - 17 victory in overtime.
Cornerback Kevin Barnes is emblematic of that patchwork perseverance. The first year defensive back stepped into the decimated secondary midway through the season, and then got moved to safety for this game. Barnes teamed up with another converted corner, Macho Harris, to slow down David Garrard. Then he picked the Jacksonville quarterback off in overtime. That interception sealed Washington's first win in five games.
Rob Jackson was another untested quantity to have a big game. Jackson, who had been playing on the defensive line on the Skins' practice squad, was promoted to starting linebacker on Sunday. Jackson finished with 3 solo tackles, including a sack.
Grossman, in his second start, did enough at the quarterback position to win the game. He checked down and threw short to sustain drives. His interception was a bad decision, throwing short in the end zone for a Santana Moss dwarfed by defensive back Derek Cox. But when tight end Chris Cooley dropped a wide-open touchdown pass in the first half, Grossman showed a lot of cool by coming right back on the next play and finding the other tight end, Fred Davis. Grossman rolled left on the play and showed some fair athleticism on the run to get the score.
Ryan Torain once again was a catalyst for the offense. In the Redskins' second half scoring drive that lasted 14 long plays, Torain rushed 8 times, finishing with a score. Torain has been a player plagued by injury. He got into two games his rookie season in Denver, sat out 2009. Before September 27, he was holding a spot in the Redskins' practice squad. Since then he has worked his way into the center of the Washington offense.
Jacksonville had everything to play for today. They needed two wins and some help from Cincinnati to make it into the playoffs. But in the coldest professional game to ever be played in Jacksonville, the team with post-season aspirations looked listless and unhurried.
Which is how a team of rookies, second-stringers, and free agents stole a victory on the road.