Redskins emerge from circus with a freaky victory

November 6th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Redskins emerge from circus with a freaky victory

By Dave Fairbank
Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
LANDOVER, Md. - An insecure employee, an independent contractor and a hardshell crab rescued a football game and the Redskins, for one day anyway.
It's premature to say that the Redskins' season is salvaged, since they're still two games below .500 at the halfway point with a steep climb remaining. Better to simply appreciate one peculiar afternoon.
Until Troy Vincent's blocked kick, Sean Taylor's bull-in-a-china-shop return, and Nick Novak's winning field goal, Sunday's Redskins-Cowboys affair was as much circus sideshow as football game.
The winner was going to be the last one to avoid the banana peels and rakes scattered all over FedEx Field.
The Redskins' defense continually extended Dallas drives. Often that didn't matter, since the Cowboys committed penalties as if doing so was part of their contract.
Both teams nearly elevated squandered opportunities to an art form. Until the very end.
"We made one more play than they did," said Vincent, the free-agent defensive back the team signed last month.
Actually, it was two. Arguably three, since it's easy to separate Vincent's block of Mike Vanderjagt's field goal attempt from Taylor's scoop-and-scramble, though they were part of the same bizarre sequence.
There was Vanderjagt, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, lining up for a 35-yard field goal to win the game, just 25 seconds after Novak missed a 49-yard attempt that would have given the Redskins the lead.
"To be honest, I had the same emotions that everybody in the (locker) room had," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "You're just distraught. You're looking at it and saying, in most cases, he's going to make that field goal."
But Vincent, a 15-year vet playing special teams for the first time in forever, found a gap in the Cowboys' scheme and fired through to block the kick.
"If that's where I need to be to help this team win games," Vincent said of playing special teams, "that's what I'll do."
Taylor, the hard-hitting free safety, picked up the loose ball, reversed field and pinballed his way to the 50-yard line before he was tackled.
A 15-yard, personal-foul facemask penalty tacked on the end of the run against the Cowboys' Kyle Kosier was questionable, to say the least. Not the penalty, but the severity. However, it was par for the course Sunday.
Taylor, a reluctant and occasionally prickly interview subject in his three seasons with the team, skedaddled from the locker room afterward, leaving the post-mortems to others.
"On the last play like that, you'd want your player to pick it up and go," Gibbs said. "I'll say this: If I was going to put it in somebody's hands, that's the guy I'd have. He has an unusual way of making things happen."
On the field, as well. But we digress.
The penalty gave the Redskins, and Novak, one more chance.
"You don't often get second chances in life and in football," Novak said. "It's a dream come true. For me, I'm just glad I can contribute and do my job."
Novak is in his second stint with the Redskins after a record-setting career around the Beltway at the University of Maryland.
He also kicked a game-winner against Seattle last season, but after replacing John Hall before the Tennessee game last month, he missed three of four field goal attempts, including the 49-yarder in the final minute Sunday.
"I needed to make that kick," Novak said of the game winner. "I don't know what my future is. Making that kick, I think, solidified myself for another week."
Gibbs said he purposely stayed away from Novak after the miss. Others such as Vincent and return man Rock Cartwright and offensive tackle Jon Jansen approached him to offer support.
Novak had little time to think about the final kick, racing onto the field and trusting his instincts and technique.
"I went from being the most hated man in Washington, to being, I don't know ," he said, his voice trailing off. "I'm just glad to get that second chance and redeem myself and help my team come through with a victory."

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