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This wasn't supposed to be how it went for the Washington Redskins.
With Rex Grossman buzzing, the running game getting healthy and on track and the Philadelphia Eagles, the self-anointed Dream Team, sputtering, this was supposed to be the week the 'Skins solidified themselves as a front-runner in the NFC East.
Instead, Washington gave Philadelphia reason to dream again.
Washington's 20-13 loss at the hands of the Eagles highlighted a busy weekend for football in the area, one in which the Ravens got a home win, Virginia pulled off a rather surprising upset and Maryland...well...they sure scored a lot, didn't they?
Welcome to this week's Daybreak 5th Quarter. Stay a while, won't you?
FLY, EAGLES, FLY - This is by no means a D5Q scientific study, but statistics show that anytime your quarterback throws four interceptions, your chances of winning the football game go down dramatically.
Unfortunately for the Redskins, Bad Rex was channeled, and the four interceptions sent Grossman to the bench in a 20-13 loss to Philadelphia at FedEx Field.
"First of all, we didn't take advantage of the opportunities that were given us as an offense. And I didn't execute," Grossman said in the Washington Post, in what may be the understatement of the season thus far.
Injury was added to insult in the defeat, which dropped Washington to 3-2 on the season. The Redskins will be without Chris Cooley for at least a month after he broke a finger. Kory Lichtensteiger may be done for the year after getting his knee rolled up on. And Trent Williams sprained an ankle.
John Beck spelled Grossman in the 2nd half and led a touchdown drive that cut the Eagles lead to one score late in the 4th quarter, but the Redskins couldn't stop LeSean McCoy on three straight runs on the Eagles final drive.
Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan says he'll decide on a starting quarterback for next Sunday's game at Carolina on Wednesday.
LOCKDOWN D - They say wins don't have to be pretty - they just have to be wins. In typical Baltimore style, the Ravens used a stifling defense and just enough offensive weaponry to move to 4-1.
Billy Cundiff kicked five field goals and Joe Flacco had another 300+ yard game to vault Baltimore to a 29-14 win over the visiting Houston Texans and a perch all alone at the top of the AFC North. However, it was Ray Rice and his 161 yards on the ground that owned the day for Baltimore.
"We had moved the ball on them. We had to stop hurting ourselves. That's what makes it so good to win this football game," Joe Flacco told the Baltimore Sun.
The tenuous moments Flacco alluded to climaxed midway through the 3rd quarter, when Matt Schaub found Jacoby Jones in the back of the end zone to give Houston a 14-13 lead.
However, after two Cundiff field goals gave Baltimore a 19-14 lead, the Ravens defense allowed the Texans less than 60 yards of offense in the 4th quarter.
NFL Hot ReadsWhy are you so mad, Jim? - Sure, the San Francisco 49ers moved to 5-1 in a dramatic 25-19 win over the previously undefeated Detroit Lions, but the postgame chatter was dominated by the confrontation between head coaches after the game. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh says he shook Lions coach Jim Schwartz's hand too hard. Methinks there was more to it than that.
In his weekly exclusive commentary on WJLA.com, longtime NFL executive Gil Brandt says Harbaugh probably should have cooled it.
"I know them both very well, and I know they're both very competitive guys," Brandt says. "I think Schwartz was very upset that they lost and I'd say Harbaugh was less than gracious."
"Could I see Tom Landry doing that? No. Not then and not now. Even so, this league has become so competitive that I'm not all that surprised with what happened."
Oh-for in Indy - The stunning headline in the Indianapolis Star says it all about 2011 for the Colts - "A familiar refrain - Colts lose." The still Peyton Manning-less Colts dropped to 0-6 in a sluggish 27-17 loss in Cincinnati.
Comeback king in Foxborough - The Dallas Cowboys played 58 minutes of excellent football on Sunday evening in New England. Too bad for them that two minutes of excellence from Tom Brady and the Patriots was enough to put Dallas away. Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for a touchdown with 22 seconds left to ice a 20-16 victory. You know what would help the Cowboys? If Dez Bryant bothered to play football in the 2nd half of games.
Brandt says that the wild ending of that game and several others is a boon for the league.
"We're talking about a script-writer's delight," Brandt says. "New England scoring on the last drive, what Tampa Bay did, and you can go on and on. Great for TV viewers and great for the fans in the park. The competitive balance I've seen so far this season is just amazing. I know some people say that's not good but I say it's very good for the fans."
After the jump, the Terrapins get into an old-fashioned shootout.
CLAWED - It was a rootin'-tootin', old-fashioned, Wild West shootout at the Byrd Stadium corral on Saturday night with 8th-ranked Clemson.
Unfortunately for the Terrapins, Clemson came with the heavier ammunition.
Maryland blew two 18-point leads, including a 38-24 edge midway through the 3rd quarter, as the Tigers solidified themselves as an ACC title contender in a 56-45 victory.
Defense was apparently optional on Homecoming in College Park, as the teams combined for 1,044 yards of offense, 53 first downs and plenty of other gaudy-looking stats.
But at the end of the night, even after grabbing a 45-42 lead late in the 4th quarter, the victory belonged to Clemson. The Tigers snagged the lead for good on the kickoff following the Matt Furstenburg touchdown that gave Maryland a three-point lead. Tigers freshman Sammy Watkins, who finished up with 345 all-purpose yards, earned 89 of them on a kickoff return for six that gave Clemson a 49-45 lead.
STINGING THE STUNG - It had been a while since the Virginia Cavaliers earned a victory that generated some buzz nationwide, but a 24-21 upset victory over #12 Georgia Tech did just that.
"This is one of those wins that can change the perception of what you think about yourself," Cavs bench boss Mike London exhorted after the game.
London had reason to smile. Forget Perry Jones' 149 yards for a moment - Virginia limited the Yellow Jackets' vaunted triple option and the 2nd best rushing team in the nation to just 272 yards.
What more, Virginia sits a 4-2 at the midpoint of their season, and with very winnable games against Maryland and Duke still on the horizon, the Cavaliers could be eyeing bowl eligibility for the first time since 2007.
SLOW START, BIG FINISH - The Virginia Tech Hokies are making a habit of slow starts, but if they keep finishing like they did in a 38-17 win over Wake Forest, perhaps they'll keep spotting opponents leads.
The Hokies fell behind 10-0 just eight minutes into the game before Logan Thomas and the rest of the team turned it on, rolling up three touchdowns in 8:39 in the 2nd quarter to take a lead that they wouldn't look back from.
Then again, Wake Forest's abysmal 1-for-13 conversion rate on 3rd down may have had an impact on their offensive clout, too.
RB David Wilson and WR Jarrett Boykin carried the load for the Hokies, combining for 285 yards and two touchdowns in the rout.
Next up - On Saturday, Virginia Tech hosts Boston College in Blacksburg, the Terps travel to Tallahassee (say THAT five times fast) to take on Florida State, and Virginia hosts North Carolina State at Scott Stadium.