September 7, 2014 marked the first Sunday of the 2014 NFL regular season. The initial Sunday is always one of the most exciting points of the season for every team and fan, with each squad getting a fresh start in their quest towards the Super Bowl.
The Washington Redskins are ushering in a new regime led by first-year head coach Jay Gruden. On top of getting acclimated to a new coach, the Redskins brought in big time playmaker DeSean Jackson to line up opposite side of the returning speedster, Pierre Garcon.
With so much change, many fans were wondering how all the pieces of the pie would align?
In their first regular season game, the Redskins faced off against the Houston Texans who are also looking to get off on the right foot with a new coach in Bill O’Brien and a new starting quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The game started like many may have expected, with an excessive amount of three-and-outs and punts from both sides.
In fact, it took the Redskins the entire first quarter to even notch their first first down on offense–with about 50 seconds remaining.
The Redskins got things going in the right direction in the second quarter, mixing runs from Alfred Morris and Roy Helu along with short passes from Robert Griffin III.
The Redskins gained big chunks of yards relying on stretch plays, which temporarily neutralized Houston’s defensive superstar, JJ Watt.
Washington effectively drove the ball down to the one yard line before feeding it to fullback Darryl Young who punched the ball in and gave the Redskins a 6-0 lead.
Yes, 6-0. The extra point, which is usually a gimme, was blocked by Watt, oddly giving the Texans a spark even after just giving up a touchdown.
But that’s football. The tide can turn in an instant and in their next offensive possession, Houston wasted no time in continuing their good fortune.
Fitzpatrick hooked up with wide receiver DeAndre Hawkins for a 76-yard TD on a play that seemed to befuddle the Washington secondary.
The Redskins stumbled on their next possession and were forced to punt, except the special teams blunders for Washington continued and the punt was blocked by Houston’s rookie running back, Alfred Blue.
Blue blocked the punt and scooped the ball up, running it in for a touchdown, giving the Texans a 14-6 lead.
The Redskins got the ball back with just about two minutes remaining in the half, but after showing signs of promise with completions to Garcon and Jackson, the ‘Skins inexplicably decided to let 45 seconds run off the clock.
They called a timeout with five seconds remaining and handed the ball off to Morris to end the half.
The second half began with bad news for Washington as starting tight end Jordan Reed—who had come up limping on a pass completion in the first half—was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a hamstring injury.
The Redskins started the third quarter with the ball and were hitting on all cylinders, quickly driving the ball down inside the Texans’ 10 yard line.
In an attempt to hand the ball off to Morris on a stretch play, Griffin III stumbled and caused the running back to muff the exchange.
The fumble was picked up by none other than Watt, who at this point was beginning to make his presence felt more and more with pressure on Griffin III, the blocked extra point and the fumble recovery.
On the play before the fumbled hand off, the Redskins drive was extended by a questionable roughing the passer call against Houston safety D.J. Swearinger.
But, as the saying goes in basketball, the “ball never lies” and the Texans took over possession deep in their own territory.
Houston was unable to get much going on the ensuing possession and punted the ball back to Washington.
On their next drive, Griffin III hit tight end Niles Paul with a strike across the middle for 48 yards, the most explosive pass for Washington up to that point.
But just as Paul was approaching the goal line, Swearinger stripped the ball and the Texans recovered once again.
In Washington’s first two possessions of the third quarter, they amassed 163 yards and figured out a way to cough up the ball twice in the red zone.
In 2013, the Redskins turned over the ball more than any other team in the NFL. Looks like they aren’t trying to let that distinction go without a fight.
Any sustained signs of life on offense were quickly killed by blunders like fumbles, sacks and penalties.
The third quarter was undoubtedly dominated by Washington, but the score remained the same at 14-6 in favor of Houston.
In the fourth quarter, Washington only possessed the ball twice on offense and they weren’t able to do much of anything either time. The game ended with the Texans tacking on a field goal for good measure, giving them a 17-6 victory in a mistake-riddled game.
Washington drops the opening game of the season for the second straight year and will look to rebound at home next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars who squandered a 17-0 lead against the ‘Skins NFC rivals Philadelphia Eagles and lost 34-17.
Houston rookie Jadeveon Clowney exited the game early with a knee injury. He will have tests performed on Monday to determine the extent of the injury. Washington’s Jordan Reed left the game with a strained hamstring. Nose tackle Barry Cofield also left the game for Washington with a sprained ankle. With the victory, Houston snapped a 14-game losing streak dating back to last season.
Header photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images