Do you remember the Game Genie? For those too young to recall, and the many who are too old to admit it, the Game Genie was an amazing accoutrement to the original Nintendo system. The premise was simple: attach any game cartridge to the Genie, insert it into the console, apply some coding, and voila! You now had infinite lives, the ability to skip levels, or unlock new worlds. It made even the most difficult games look like child’s play. What if the NFL had a version of that?
As luck would have it, they do. It’s called "playing the Jacksonville Jaguars." As injury-riddled and underachieving as Washington has been, the erstwhile contenders from Florida have them trumped. In front of a crowd that can only be described as "confusingly loyal" and a television broadcast only a true masochist could view, the burgundy and gold snuck out a 16-13 victory. The improbable win keeps their dim playoff hopes alive…for now. So, who contributed to this glorious win? I'm glad you asked! Welcome to the fourteenth of sixteen #SundaySlices recaps, AKA your favorite columnist's favorite column, 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)
-Vernon Davis. You'll never believe this, but Jordan Reed is injured. In his absence, the team turned to Vernon Davis as the number one tight end option. Vernon has made some plays this season. But it also seems that he can’t even catch a cold.
-The Punt Team. Allowing a special teams TD with 16 seconds left before halftime, and Cody Effing Kessler leading the opposing squad, is unacceptable. On the receiving end, Mo Harris chipped in with *squints eyes and breaks out a magnifying glass* three punt returns for 11 yards. That's…not great.
-Tackling. It seems crazy to bitch about tackling when the defense allowed less than 200 offensive yards, but considering the Game Genie opponent advantage, it shouldn't have been that hard.
Jeremy Sprinkle: 5%
I will seize any and every opportunity to use this gif. I don’t care that it's just a cheap pun of the third-string tight end's last name. The man scored the game-tying touchdown and deserves his glitter. Fight me.
Fabian Moreau: 5%
Shout out to the ex-UCLA Bruin on his first career interception. The degree of difficulty may not have been high, but the stakes certainly were.
Adrian Peterson: 15%
21 total touches for 71 yards is not exactly a banner day for a running back. However, each of his 38 yards amassed on the final drive were absolutely crucial for the victory. Amazingly, the 33-year old is less than 100 rushing yards away from hitting 1,000 for the season. He would be the first Washington running back to reach that milestone since Alfred Morris in 2012. Awesome for AP, but a sad state of affairs for the organization.
Jay Gruden: 15%
From a 500-word diatribe in this very column one week ago, to cautious praise this week. Life comes at you fast. Gotta give the ball coach his flowers while he can still smell them, as 1- he may not be here in three weeks to write about, and 2- he deserves some acclaim. After incessant fan complaints, four-straight losing weeks, and three lost quarterbacks (Smith and McCoy via injury, Sanchez via shittiness), Gruden stayed his course and the team responded. Squeezing the win with a new starting QB in week 15, who just joined the roster ten days prior, while (sorta/kinda) in a playoff push, is extremely impressive.
Additionally, this is the first time in two seasons that the team managed to win a game after trailing at halftime. Jay showed a rarely seen ability to augment game plans on the fly, and was malleable enough to script the playbook to the strengths of his new signal caller. Salute.
Josh Johnson: 20%
If you find yourself rooting against a man on his 12th NFL roster, starting for the first time in seven years and winning his first career game, then you probably don’t have a soul. And if that's the case, I'm sure Daniel Snyder has a job in his front office waiting for you. But, for the rest of us, it was great to see a player in a number 8 jersey who was truly happy to fight for 'ol D.C.
Yeah, he had some happy feet. Took too many sacks. Wasn't the most accurate. Had ball protection issues. It wasn't sexy. But, it didn't need to be. The Alex Smith formula is still OK by me: don't turn the ball over...ever. Make a couple plays on third down, win the game, and go home. Keep doing that, Josh.
The Kickers: 20%
Y’all complain about Washington’s coaching a lot, but they really do excel at getting the ball to their best player...— Chris Williams (@slimceeVA) December 16, 2018
Tress Way just let off another boomer!
Tress Way has not punted for a touchback the entire season. He's been special. Dustin Hopkins went 3-for-3 in field goals, including the game-winner. He hasn't been "special," but he's been solid. I'll take solid. With the offense's limited ability to put points on the board, the team will likely lean on these two more than they should in the final weeks, but not more than they can handle.
The Pass Rush: 20%
Pretty much everyone in the front seven got to eat on Sunday. Without much of a concern of Cody Kessler going deep in the pass game (though, he did rush for more yards than AP), Washington was able to tee off in the pass rush, getting home six times for sacks.
The standouts were Da'ron Payne, who continues to punish interior offensive linemen like they cut in front of him at the buffet; Jonathan Allen, who may have had his strongest game of the season; and the omnipresent, Ryan Kerrigan, who caused a monstrous strip-sack fumble in the first quarter.
Zach Brown making his presence felt on 3rd down as he's playing over JHC. Sack there. Effective blitz package so far today, thanks in part to the DL pushing the pocket.— Craig Hoffman (@CraigHoffman) December 16, 2018
I suppose a shred of this slice should go to dead-man-walking defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky...nah. He got the NFL version of the Game Genie at the perfect time. If he wants to prove it's not a fluke, he'll need another stellar performance next week in Nashville, with no cheat codes.
#SundaySlices will return following Saturday's pseudo-playoff game against the Tennessee Titans. Send your slice suggestions, critiques, complaints or questions 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.