OAKLAND, Calif. Pierre Garcon sent his spike about 25 feet into the air, writing the closing chapter of what he described as “three weeks of frustration.”
The Redskins did not become a good football team on Sunday. They did take an important step in that direction, though, claiming a 24-14 win over the Raiders to enter the bye week with a 1-3 record.
Facing an Oakland team that was without its starting running back and quarterback, the Skins defense feasted on signal-caller Matt Flynn, sacking him seven times. The victory was of critical importance, but the work is far from over.
“We wanted to get the ball rolling in our direction,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “It’s going to be a tougher task as we go forward. Offenses that are a little bit more polished, not the backup quarterback, things like that.”
On offense there were glimpses of last season’s explosiveness. A no-huddle approach had Oakland on its heels, and quarterback Robert Griffin III made one of his signature scrambles in the fourth quarter before connecting with Roy Helu – his fourth option on the play.
There were also glimpses of the mediocrity that has plagued this season. Once again, there were no first-half touchdowns, and a pair of fumbles nearly derailed the second half, though the Raiders couldn’t capitalize on the first and were offsides on the second.
The team’s veterans made sure to emphasize that there won’t be any coasting during the upcoming bye week.
“We’re not going to sit here and be like, ‘We’re world beaters,’” receiver Santana Moss said. “We won one game.
“That’s why I’m being as calm as I can with it, because I’m not going to get geeked off of one win. I understand this game. I’ve played this game too long to think that one game’s going to make us great. We still have to go out and get better.”
The Oakland crowd spent most of the game booing Flynn, who failed to deliver in multiple third-down situations.
He was replacing starter Terrelle Pryor, who missed the game with a concussion.
Still, the Raiders used special-teams play to stake an early lead. In the first quarter, they blocked a Sav Rocca punt for a touchdown, confusing Perry Riley and Jordan Pugh with a simple assignment switch.
Later in the frame, the Raiders picked up a touchdown pass one play after Brian Orakpo dropped a pass that hit him on the chest.
It took a David Amerson interception to turn things around. The rookie intercepted a Flynn pass and returned it for a touchdown, creating the halftime margin of 14-10.
“It was kind of like a dream come true,” Amerson said. “To get your first interception in the league and have it be a pick-six, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
The defense blanked the Raiders in the final three quarters, including an assist from normally reliable kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who missed a 52-yarder.
Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and Cofield made the last sack the most important, as Kerrigan forced a Flynn fumble and Cofield jumped on it.
Given the ball at the Oakland 42, the Redskins offense finished off a 24-14 victory that was satisfying in its context.
“There’s nothing else to say; we had to do whatever it takes to come out of this 1-3 going into the bye week,” Griffin said. “That was big for us.”