"Bend, but don't break." This serves as the mantra for the judgement in elasticity of every rubber band ever produced.
“Bend, but don’t break.” Have you ever tried to destroy a credit card and noticed that it's impossible without scissors?
“Bend, but don’t break.” Perhaps it describes your will power, while entrenched into an argument with your significant other, over whether buying free-range chicken is actually worth the price.
Or, maybe it describes giving up over 500 yards of offense and forcing just one punt...but, only surrendering three points. “Bend, but don’t break.”
On a scorching Florida afternoon, Washington's defense poked the non-patch covered eyes, kicked the peg legs, muzzled the parrots on the shoulders and silenced the cannons of the Buccaneers, with a quirky 16-3 victory. So who contributed to this glorious win? I'm glad you asked! Welcome to the ninth of sixteen #SundaySlices recaps, where we cut up the game to assign fame and blame, based on the outcome, into delicious pie chart form. Try not to make a mess.
(These are the players/coaches/etc. who are not in the pie, because they did not contribute to the win)
-The Sun. I happened to be lucky enough to be at the game and I'm not saying it was hot, but I did hear that Satan called, requesting his climate back.
-Vernon Davis. Old Faithful Davis got loose on a deep route in the second half and could've had a home run to put the game permanently out of reach. He ended the day with a measly one target and zero catches. To be fair, that wasn't his fault as much as it was the fault of:
-Alex Smith. OK, so Smith makes his fourth appearance in the "Missing Ingredients" section out of six wins. Honestly, this is probably a little harsh. It just constantly feels like the offense is one or two big plays away from just being watchable in the passing game...and it never happens. The miss to Davis was brutal and there were very few other chances taken. Tampa came in as one the historically worst defenses in NFL history, so to only pass for 178 yards felt extremely disappointing. This was third game out of the last four that Smith and the offense only managed 178 passing yards. Yet, in the Alex Smithiest of Alex Smithness, Washington has won all three of those contests. Good gracious, it ain't sexy to watch, but maybe there is in fact a rhyme and reason.
The Fans: 5%
We'll go into more detail later in "After Hours Slices," but just know, the road warrior fans were in full force. Many fight songs were sung, many awkward high-fives to fellow burgundy and gold-clad patrons were made and many "this is FedEx South!" shouts were obnoxiously bellowed from a handsome devil in a Josh Doctson jersey. (Side note: he didn't make Slices this week, but the #DoctsonHive is gaining momentum; look out).
Zach Brown: 5%
The night before the game Brown was clearly bored in the team hotel, deciding to let his twitter fingers do some talking, tweeting (and then deleting) gripes about the coaches' views on his play. His self-motivation seemed to have translated on the field as he was everywhere, finishing second on the team in total tackles and first in tackles for loss. For good measure, he added in a forced fumble. I'm guessing the coaches will shift their "blame" elsewhere.
The Kickers: 10%
You should never ask Peyton Manning his opinion on kickers, but they're pretty damn important. Dustin Hopkins banged home all three of his field goal attempts--conversely, Tampa's kicker missed two attempts and found himself unemployed this week--continuing his solid season. Washington has not a Pro Bowl punter since...hold on, not sure Google goes back that far, but Tress Way has been putting in work.
The Replacements aka The New Offensive Line: 15%
Jonathan Cooper. Shawn Carter. Austin Howard. Luke Bowanko. Christopher Wallace. Not only is it amazing what type of protection and production Washington was able to get from their makeshift line, but also that there were so many moving pieces and impromptu signings that you didn't even notice you just read three lineman's names and the two greatest rappers ever. The game and result felt very similar to last season's win at Seattle, where a last-second offensive line impressed as well and these replacements made names for themselves immediately.
Josh Norman: 15%
I don't know how much longer we'll see #24 suit up on Sundays in Washington, but plays like this will certainly increase the odds:
The Edge Rushers: 25%
Don't look now, but Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith have put together over a month straight of not only consistent pass rushing, but the creation of turnovers. Like cutting the bottom of a cigar, they know how important the punch is.
Cassanova McKinzy is one to keep an eye on, both on the field and off it. He showed some pass rush prowess, but the man's name is "Cassanova;" you might gotta hid your girl.
Deciding that his Alabama brethren, Payne and Allen were getting all the love, Ryan Anderson also chimed-in with one of the furthest forced fumbles you will ever see. I could post the replay, but I'll let the editor-in-chief show the re-enactment.
Greg Stroman: 25%
Top-billing for a player who has constantly been on the wrong side of #SundaySlices this season, yet flashes enough to let you know he's legit. If you force two turnovers, you get a heaping slice. Thems the rules. The seventh-round rookie did not even start Sunday, but when Danny Johnson got continually cooked early, #37 pulled-up and delivered.
*puts on nerd spectacles* This could've been a pick-6 and lord knows the team will take any points they can, but the future looks very bright in the secondary.
AFTER HOURS SLICE
New segment alert!
From time to time I will be adding some additional info outside of the pie. A little something extra, if you will. This week’s additional slice:
Nothing like celebrating a huge win with some good 'ol fan bashing, amirite? Look, there have already been too many words typed online about this and the fallout around it, so I won't lecture further with my take. Washington fans are a lot things: bat-shit crazy, irrational, demanding, demeaning, fed-up, too high after a win, too low after a loss, obsessed with the past, forever skeptical about the future, chock-full of passion and rage that burns with the intensity of 100 suns against the owner, self-deprecating and all around a little off. BUT, the one thing they are not is disloyal. Norman and the other players that cosigned him should know, that when it comes to our fanhood, much like their defensive prowess, we bend, but don't break.
#SundaySlices will return following Sunday’s absolutely packed, sold-out, rabid fan-filled game against the Houston Texans. If you have any slice suggestions, critiques, complaints or questions send them to @slimceeVA on Twitter. Should you feel the need to add snarky commentary about pop culture, sports or politics into your life, you can also follow @slimceeVA—and you should.