During the entire week leading up to, right before and even parts during the game, I was Stillwell "Stillwell Angel" Gardner. If you've ever seen the 1992 classic, A League of Their Own, you may remember him as the son of an outfielder, who annoyingly and mockingly made the proclamation "you're gonna lose!" before games. Prior to the final contest of the season, the curmudgeon skipper played by Tom Hanks declares "we're gonna win," throws a glove toward Stillwell, smacking him in the face and let's out a joyous "HAHA! Got 'em!" On a rainy, sleety, snowy afternoon in Seattle, Kirk Cousins and the Skins did just that to me and I could not have been more elated.
With debatably the biggest victory in the Gruden Era and certainly the least probable, Washington miraculously triumphed over the perennial playoff-bound Seahawks, winning in thrilling fashion at the formidable Century Link Field. I was in attendance and honestly still cannot believe what I witnessed. With such a gut-wrenching, heart-racing, crash test dummy feeling following the contest, I needed a full 24 hours to catch my breath. Who and what contributed to this particular win, exactly? I'm glad you asked! Welcome to the eighth 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)
-Chris Thompson. This is less a slight toward #25 and more a tip of the cap to the Seattle defense, who clearly made it a priority to stop him. Thompson had eight touches for 31 total yards in what was by far his least-productive output of the season.
-Special Teams. Welp, at least they didn't fumble? It wasn't a "bad" day, per se, for the special teams, it just was a mostly non-descript one. Nick Rose made his three attempts (his two extra points were the longest kicks) and Tress Way had eight punts, averaging a meager 40 yards. Like a delinquent Blockbuster Video patron in the 90's, the return game continues to be a nightmare.
-The weather. We'll continue a theme here at #SundaySlices: can't be an advantage or a detriment; both teams have to play in it.
The Refs: 1%
Seattle is among the league leaders in penalties and yardage, while Washington is in the bottom third, but there is no question that some well-timed yellow hankies helped save the day on Sunday. 16 penalties for 138 yards. That yardage total was more than half of the 244 total yards the Skins offense accumulated the whole afternoon. Each flag sucked more from the soul of the "12s" and their lame entitlement at the stadium. The angst of the fans was only exasperated more by...
Blair Walsh: 2%
Not that they were all chip shots, and the weather was crappy, but when you miss three field goals and your team only loses by three? Well, let's just say you better hope Trump brings some more of those much-needed coal jobs back to make the country great again, because you will soon find yourself on the unemployment line.
Rob Kelley: 2%
14 carries for 18 yards is not usually slice material in a win, but punching in two touchdowns, including the game-winner? Eat up, Fat Rob. Eat up.
Brian Quick/Kendall Fuller: 5%
Quick's over-the-shoulder adjustment grab down the right sideline on the final drive was a thing of beauty. Fuller's interception was massive as it stopped the Seahawks in an early game possession that entered Skins territory. Both players made additional plays, but these two deserve the most attention.
Deangelo Hall: 5%
Hall's day began inauspiciously, as he allowed a punt to roll to the six yard line, setting up the safety in the first quarter. But, on defense? He was partying like it was 2009. Hall inexplicably played an amazing game, leading all Washington players in ratings from Pro Football Focus. He had four tackles, directed traffic in the secondary and played centerfield alongside Swearinger, but most importantly, he showed off a vertical ability I was unaware he still possessed by dislodging the ball from 7'10" (approximately) monster, Jimmy Graham, on the final Hail Mary attempt.
Will Compton: 5%
The source of many a slight on Skins twitter, Compton showed up and showed out Sunday. The defense barely missed a beat at the inside linebacker position with Mason Foster on the IR, as Compton was second on the team in tackles, defended three passes and had a monster interception in the third quarter that helped keep the sputtering Seattle offense stalled in place.
Vernon Davis: 5%
The team leader in targets, receptions and yards, the offense once again was buoyed by the tight end position. Much like the walking bandage that is Jordan Reed, Davis continues to be a complete liability in the blocking department, but he's as reliable as they come in pass-catching and Kirk knows it.
Zach Brown: 10%
I need y'all to start a Gofundme for my possible impending bail needs, because if Zach Brown is not re-signed to a multi-year deal in the offseason, I will rob a bank and give him the money myself. If you took London Fletcher and gave him cornerback speed, you would have #53. This defense is built around him and it should be. The best free agent linebacker pickup since Jeremiah Trotter...wait.
Josh Doctson: 10%
#DocHive is filling up mighty quick. Only a week or two left to pretend to proclaim "Kirk doesn't have any weapons!" Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be watching that diving catch on infinite loop.
Kirk Cousins: 15%
I will have a detailed and in-depth breakdown of Cousins on the upcoming Fifty Gut podcast (which you should definitely subscribe to), but I'll say this: that was not the most impressive statistical game of Cousins career, or hell, even this season. But, when the team needed him the most, with 80% of his starting offensive line injured, two of his best pass-catchers out, on the road, versus most of the Legion of Boom (boy are we lucky Earl Thomas was out), Kirk absolutely stood tall and delivered the unlikeliest win of his resume. No one, not even a hypercritical, albeit extremely well-written, blogger can take that away from him.
Jay Gruden/Greg Manusky: 40%
For as much (99% deserved) flack as our front office gets for mishandling contracts or players and coaching, one thing is for sure: they were correct in extending Jay. I am always hesitant to attribute "effort" or "chemistry" or the myriad of other coach-speak narratives that are impossible to quantify one way or the other when breaking down games. It seems like an impossibility to explain or reasonably know for sure. But, watching this team, with their lack of healthy starters, the hodgepodge offensive line, the 34-year old starting safety, the wide receiver who's been inactive damn near the whole year, all of the maladies that have landed on this squad. To watch that and watch how they perform, the motors, the flying around the field; I'll be damned if I don't call that some great coaching.
Making chicken salad out of chicken shit is Gordon Ramsay impressive, but you still need to devise a gameplan and execute. Defensive coordinator, Greg Manusky, was tasked with slowing down one of the top offenses with one of the top quarterbacks in the league running the show. They may have bent (to the tune of 437 total yards), but they did not break on the scoreboard, allowing a meager 12 points.
The run game was still garbage. Kirk was probably asked to drop back into too many five and seven step drops given the line play and opponent. The third down efficiency was still atrocious. It wasn't perfect, but it didn't have to be. The coaching staff told themselves "we're gonna win," and even if only they and the team believed it, the result smacked every other Stillwell-inspired pundit in the grill.
#SundaySlices will return following Sunday's NFC wildcard implication-heavy contest versus the Minnesota Vikings. If you have any slice suggestions, send them to @slimceeVA on Twitter.