Redskins.com's Andrew Walker takes a closer look at Sunday afternoon's matchup vs. the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS **After reaching their low point of the 2014 season a week ago in a home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Washington Redskins knew they had to come out Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers with a true purpose.
It wouldn't come easy, however. The 49ers – who have appeared in the past three NFC Championship games – are always a tough opponent, but especially within the lines at their brand new home, Levi's Stadium.
And, for a second straight week, the Redskins' offense didn't exactly come storming out of the gates, with just 28 net yards on 12 plays in the first quarter. The 49ers, meanwhile, didn't have much trouble on their opening drive, which ended with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick to Anquan Boldin.
But the Washington defense put the clamps down from there as the offense slowly began to come to life, using a bunch of running back Alfred Morris to go into halftime down 10-7.
From there, the Washington defense continued to impress and the offense – led by Morris – made plays when needed to stay in the game.
But when the clock struck 0:00, the 49ers – who got a late, four-yard touchdown run with 2:59 left – were able to pull out the victory with some quality defensive play of their own, defeating the Redskins 17-13 in front of their spirited home crowd.
REVEALING MOMENTEarly in the third quarter, the Redskins saw yet another cornerback become unavailable, as Tracy Porter left the game with a right shoulder injury.
His replacement? Rookie Greg Ducre, who was yet to play a defensive snap in his career as of Sunday's game.
Not surprisingly, Kaepernick went to Ducre's side immediately, getting an intermediate pass completion on the play.
But the Washington product didn't let that faze him. With defensive backs coach Raheem Morris constantly in his ear, Ducre splashed just a few plays later as Kaepernick got a little greedy trying to exploit that matchup once again.
Ducre was ready, making an impressive over-the-shoulder catch for the interception – the first of his career – to give his team the ball back.
The "next-man-up" mentality has been one the Redskins have had to go to quite a few times this season. Props to Ducre for doing his job and making a play.
PLAY OF THE GAMEThe Redskins and 49ers were knotted at 10 with just less than 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game when the Washington defense made a huge play at that juncture.
The 49ers handed off to their veteran running back, Frank Gore, who appeared to be headed for a moderate gain. But rookie outside linebacker Trent Murphy had other ideas.
Murphy reached around and knocked the ball out of Gore's grip, pushing it up the field, where safety Phillip Thomas was right there to scoop it up, giving Washington the ball at the San Francisco 37-yard line.
The Redskins cashed in a few plays later on a 46-yard field goal from Kai Forbath – his second field goal of the day – to give them a 13-10 lead with 7:42 left in the fourth quarter.
It was the third turnover forced by the Redskins on the day, who also saw a forced fumble by Brandon Meriweather recovered by Ryan Clark, and the aforementioned interception from Ducre.
PLAYER OF THE GAMEAlfred Morris appears to be getting better as the season moves on.
Whenever the Redskins' offense appeared like it couldn't get anything going on Sunday, all Robert Griffin III had to do was hand it off to Morris, and he'd do the rest from there.
Morris finished Sunday's game with 21 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown. His day included runs of 22, 16, 11, 30 and 11 yards.
Morris crossed the 100-yard plateau for the first time this season, and for the 11th time in the 2013 Pro Bowler's career.
As for the "getting better as the season moves on" remark, check out these numbers: this season, Morris has, in order, produced games of 91, 85, 77, 63, 29, 41, 54, 73, 92, 96 and 125 rushing yards.
Now that's production.
WHAT'S NEXTWith today's matchup against the San Francisco 49ers officially a thing of the past, the Washington Redskins turn their attention to the leaders of the AFC South.
The Redskins next Sunday travel to the Midwest to take on the Indianapolis Colts (7-4). Kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium is set for 1 p.m. ET.
Here's some more facts and figures from next Sunday's Redskins-Colts matchup in Indianapolis, courtesy of Redskins Public Relations:
- The Redskins will seek their first win against the Colts since a 26-21 win Oct. 27, 2002.
- A win would be the Redskins' first in Indianapolis since overcoming a 14-point first-half deficit en route to a 41-27 victory Oct. 23, 1994.
- The game is expected to feature quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, both of whom were selected among the top two picks of the 2012 NFL Draft. It would be the first matchup of starting quarterbacks selected Nos. 1 and 2 overall in a draft since Peyton Manning (No. 1, 1998) and Ryan Leaf (No. 2, 1998) started against one another on Oct. 4, 1998.