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In Wilbon's World

Missed kick is hard to take

I saw Shaun Suisham walk onto the field, knew he was kicking an automatic, point-after, chip-shot of a field goal, the kind high school kickers make about 85 percent of the time, and looked away to the other screen I watch in my home office on NFL Sundays. The Golden Boy and Tom Brady were in trouble down in Miami with a couple of minutes to go. At the exact same time the Raiders were going down the field to, as it turns out, stun the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

The Red Zone Channel was going split screen with those two games, and Suisham was going to extend the Redskins lead to 10 points with a couple of minutes to play, so what was the point in watching Redskins-Saints any longer? The Redskins would take a knee a few times and run the clock out on not only their biggest victory of the season but the biggest upset in the NFL this fall.

But the furious action, at that moment, was with Dolphins-Patriots and Raiders-Steelers.

So after a few minutes, with the Saints moving the ball, my friend Neville Waters looked back up at the small screen to the Redskins game and said, "Why is the score the same? Why are the Redskins up only a touchdown instead of 10 points."

Three grown men (my friend Ken Hyatt), two of them Redskins fans, were watching two screens and somehow missed the critical play of the game . . . just as Suisham had moments earlier from 23 yards.

You can't miss from 23 yards. Tony Dungy, perhaps the most compassionate coach in the history of football, said on NBC's pregame show Sunday night, "I'd have to cut him before he cost me my job."

If Dungy says you gotta go, you gotta go. Look, I know the Redskins weren't feeling the love from the zebras after replay overturned two incredibly close calls, the first on the Redskins interception that turned into a Saints steal-and-touchdown before the half and the second on the Mike Sellers fumble. But if Suisham makes a field goal a walk-on kicker in high school would make, the Redskins win.

If LaRon Landry stops strutting like a peacock and gets his butt back on defense maybe the Saints don't tie the game late. Then there was the Jason Campbell interception late in the game on a pass play that never should have been attempted.

Certainly and understandably, there's heartbreak here, but joy just about everywhere else that people care about pro football because this is the first time the NFL has ever had two teams go 12-0.

The Redskins, meanwhile, seem just good enough to lose now, having dropped crushing games to the Cowboys, Eagles and now Saints . . . three teams that very well could comprise half the NFC playoff picture...

Three Best Game

Saints over Redskins
Raiders over Steelers: Suppose the Raiders had gone to Gradkowski earlier in the season? The Raiders have now beaten the Eagles, Bengals and Steelers.

Miami over the Patriots: The Golden Boy threw a pair of interceptions and Bill Belichick let ego get the best of him again. As a result the Jets and Dolphins trail the Patriots by only a game in the race for the AFC East.

Three Picks I Nailed

Giants over Cowboys: Dallas still has a visit to New Orleans and is by no means a lock for the playoffs. The Giants ran and hit people on defense like they're suppose to, but haven't lately.

Jaguars over Houston: Jacksonville won despite an injury-depleted secondary. Houston has now lost four straight.

Eagles over Falcons: Matt Ryan's absence had already doomed the Falcons. Who knew the Eagles would actually allow Michael Vick to be a football player again on his homecoming to ATL. Eagles look like they could still win the NFC.

Three Picks I Blew

Steelers over Raiders: It's time to stop waiting on the Steelers to simply turn it on...It's not there. The champs appear to be done.

Chiefs over Broncos: Idiot pick . . . Moronic.

Titans over Colts: Okay, see, what I was trying to convey was that I knew this was going to be a Sunday of upets, and it was. The Raiders beat the Steelers, the Redskins virtually beat the Saints. Miami beat the Patriots. See, I knew. I just couldn't get the correct upsets, damnit!

By

Michael Wilbon

 |  December 6, 2009; 8:28 PM ET  |  Category:  NFL , Post Pro Picks Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Wow, with those bums giving up 500 plus yards and Laron "dirty" Laundry gettin worked by a speed bag they resort to blaming the kicker. they let the saints go 80 yards and flat out stunk the joint up defensively at the end of games. they are a show and until they clean house and quit making excused for playing arena league players like rock cartwright and kareem moore you will never build a winner. they are destined to become Detroit East. put it in stone.

Posted by: doyouktt | December 12, 2009 10:38 PM
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2 comments on different subjects:

1. Remember Mark Moseley, arguably the best place kicker the Redskins ever had? He missed a couple of easy ones in Philly and was cut before Washington picked him up. Cutting Suisham was a huge mistake. Everyone has slumps--even kickers.

2. Why does COngress care what type of football games we have at the end of the year? Is it really a function of our Federal government to get involved in playoffs? Really--do they think they've solved the economic, environmental, and national security issues to the point that they're bored and are looking for work? There is a very simple cure--TV ratings. IF the teams perceived as the best don't get to the BCS often enough, TV ratings will go down. THEN things will change. Keep Congress doing what the Constitution told it to do!

Posted by: fredmayes1 | December 11, 2009 8:36 AM
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wilbon-

so no word on tiger in light of developments? he has now been accused of drunk driving, driving while on drugs, and putting his family's health at risk.

you crucified phelps for much less.

one starts to wonder on why you are being so mum: is it a racial thing? (you have never been above playing the race card when it suits you) is it you are friends with tiger? (you wouldn't be the first writer who got too close to a subject) or is it you attended some of these vegas/az parties and got caught up in some of the shenanigans?

Posted by: funkey | December 10, 2009 8:16 AM
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And then there's Landry's try for an Academy award for "best attempt to upstage everyone else on the field." But all the players do it. The receivers and the defensive backs are the worst, because they perform their heroics out in the open where everyone can see them.

But don't blame them, blame their agents. You know what the agents tell their clients? "You have to get noticed if you want the big bucks." The 22 players on the field are effectively disguised by their helmets, face masks, and padding. They're bundled up as if they're trying to hide their identities! So their agents say, do something to distinguish yourself. Do a dance. Develop an act, something fans will remember. "Hey, did you see that! He did a back flip!" "He spiked the ball over the cross bar!" "He did a moon dance!"

And do you think the league discourages it? Heck, no. They know they're in the entertainment business. They're competing with every other flamboyant, over-the-top, outrageous performance on TV and the Internet, from The Sopranos to the latest videos of celebrities' misdeeds on YouTube.

Posted by: donnolo | December 8, 2009 9:26 PM
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It's hard to decide who is stupider, the fans who think Suisham singlehandedly lost the Saints game or the team's management for making him the scapegoat and firing him.

Do receivers get fired for dropping passes in the end zone? Do quarterbacks get fired for throwing interceptions? Does anyone ever get fired for a fumble that leads to a game-winning score by the other team? (The name Holmes comes to mind.) No. Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect, especially placekickers.

Suisham made field goals of 32, 28, and 21 yards before missing the last one from 23. If he had missed one of the earlier kicks and made the final one the score would have been the same, but no one would be calling for the axe. Instead he would be hailed for having almost iced the game! Only a miraculous two-minute drive enabled the Saints to tie the game and send it into overtime.

And how were the Saints able to do that with no timeouts? Someone must shoulder the blame. Fire the defensive backs!

Posted by: donnolo | December 8, 2009 8:53 PM
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It's hard to decide who is stupider, the fans who think Suisham singlehandedly lost the Saints game or the team's management for making him the scapegoat and firing him.

Do receivers get fired for dropping passes in the end zone? Do quarterbacks get fired for throwing interceptions? Does anyone ever get fired for a fumble that leads to a game-winning score by the other team? (The name Holmes comes to mind.) No. Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect, especially placekickers.

Suisham made field goals of 32, 28, and 21 yards before missing the last one from 23. If he had missed one of the earlier kicks and made the final one the score would have been the same, but no one would be calling for the axe. Instead he would be hailed for having almost iced the game! Only a miraculous two-minute drive enabled the Saints to tie the game and send it into overtime.

And how were the Saints able to do that with no timeouts? Someone must shoulder the blame. Fire the defensive backs!

Posted by: donnolo | December 8, 2009 8:50 PM
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The Redskins are saved! They signed a new kicker (who sure doesn't kick 85%). Another in a string of brilliant moves. We are just around the corner....Where's Tony?

Posted by: KDSmallJr | December 8, 2009 5:08 PM
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Wilbon, the Redskins are 3-9 and there is no reason to believe they will be Super Bowl contenders in the near future, the Nationals finished with the worst record in the Major Leagues this year, and the Wizards are 7-12 and if they do make the playoffs, will probably be a quick first round exit. Why write a piece on the Caps? They are our only title contender for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: LHeselden | December 8, 2009 1:15 PM
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This, from Julian Tepper:

First, a brief comment: if he makes the kick, the game is over. So, he cost us the game.

The fact that others did things that also could have saved the game does not change that.

Second, I prefer to look forward, meaning to choose whom to cut from the team. If they are any good they will land elsewhere. And, of course, some could come back to haunt us. But, what I'm talking about here are players likely to otherwise make the team next year.

And, I prefer to name some keepers, too.

Whom to cut? Let's start with Vincent Cerrato. Okay, not a player, but I should not have to make the case to get him out of here. I invite you to look back and see what he also did to the '49ers.

Next, Suisham. Okay, he has won some games; but he has cost us games he shouldn't have. He is, in a word, unreliable, and his kickoffs are mostly low and short. If you take a look at the tape, you'll see that he kicked the ball exactly to where he was aiming; that is, his body positioning meant he had to kick the ball to the right of the uprights.

Next, Mike Sellers. I like Mike, but losing the ball is nothing new for him. The same goes for going down relatively easily. (BTW, I'd still like to know if the whistle blew before the Saints came up with his fumble, and if that makes any difference. After all, that would be a pick-up of a loose ball after the whistle blew.)

Clinton Portis should go. He is still a quality player, but he has no speed to speak of. What we need is a running back who has more breakaway or take-it-home potential. We have none. Who will disagree that a quality running back is easier to find that a quality much-anything-else? Let's cut Portis loose.

Next, Carlos Rogers. He's inconsistent and cannot catch. On the few occasions that he's in position to pick one off, he usually muffs it.

Do we have any d-backs who effectively can line up tight on a receiver and play man defense? Why is it that, even early in the game, the d-backs give 8 to 12 yard cushions?

Now for some keepers: I love the way that Quinton Ganther plays. He runs hard and makes good decisions on finding the hole to squirm through. (And, can we please stop using Marcus Mason, whom I also like, for 3rd or 4th down short-yardage power runs?)

Have you noticed that the 'Skins performance resurgence has coincided with the changes in the offensive line? Do you see how much more time and comfort JC has in the pocket? This crew has played far better than the one that opened the season.

It's obvious that several 'Skins have been playing or played with injuries that reduced their efficiency and dependability. We need younger, stronger and healthier players, especially on the O-line. Why did we not have this before? See, Vincent Cerrato, above.

This team, tweaked, can be more than pretty good.

JT

Posted by: jutepper1 | December 7, 2009 5:51 PM
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jkilroy1

Dont you mean give Bryan Mitchell back his jersey?

Posted by: ged0386 | December 7, 2009 5:08 PM
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@terpsfan i'm iffy on the calls too, but they changed the down by contact rule in 2006. they can now review fumbles even if the player was ruled down by contact.

http://profootball.scout.com/2/556118.html

Posted by: olsonchr | December 7, 2009 4:49 PM
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jaksprat1 writes #5 - Both of the calls everyone is objecting to were completely right. I watched them both over and over again in slow motion, and the calls were correct.

Oh really? How about the fact that on the "fumble" the whistle was clearly blown and the official can clearly be seen pointing dramatically to the ground? (As in he is down, down, down.) No matter what the replay shows (I watched the play over and over too. They were WRONG.) they can't review it because the play was called dead. Mistakes were made by both teams. The Skins lost in large part because of mistakes made by the officials. That should never happen!

Posted by: TerpsfanstuckinNC | December 7, 2009 4:34 PM
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"How do you keep 10 women quiet all of this time now you cant get them to stop coming out of the woodwork?"

You pay them money, thats how. Its diminishing returns....get some now up front before he others get ahead of you...

Your right the field goal should have been made, but nobody makes them all and like I said..they would have ONE win without him. Thats a fact.

Posted by: nowhine | December 7, 2009 4:26 PM
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Shaun Suisham didn't lose the game for the Redskins. The Redskins lost the game, as usual. #1 - The long snapper snapped the ball high; #2 - LaVon Landry can't defend against the long pass; #3 - Even having his best game ever, Jason Campbell throws a stupid interception at a critical time; #4 - The coaching staff calls time out at ineffectual and stupid times; #5 - Both of the calls everyone is objecting to were completely right. I watched them both over and over again in slow motion, and the calls were correct.
But here are some of my other thoughts: #1 - I'm sick and tired of football players pounding on their chests while moving away from the other players - just so they can be singled out for making a play. Big deal! They're being paid millions for making plays. Did you ever see ANY players do that back when Jurgensen and Kilmer were playing? LaVon Landry is an embarrassment to the Redskins!! #2 - EVERYONE makes excuses for Jason Campbell (he's worked under too many systems; the offensive line doesn't protect him, et. etc.) He's the most mediocre QB in the NFL. His completions rarely are longer than 10 yards, so it pads his stats. As an example, his 3 TD'S were short passes that receivers RAN for touchdowns. He makes stupid mistakes, ALL THE TIME. This was the only good game I've ever seen him play, and he still screws it up. As one of the guests (a former defensive back for New England) candidly said on "This is the NFL", "Campbell is a second-string quarterback, at best." Finally, someone had the guts to say it!!

Posted by: jaksprat1 | December 7, 2009 3:52 PM
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Landry makes a tackle after a 7 yard gain on 1st down. He gets up pounding his chest and gesturing to the crowd. This guy is a clown. Does anyone in the locker room set him straight? What the heck? All this, and we'll not bring up how he was repeatedly burned. But, this show boating stuff has to go. Or until he makes a legitimate play.

Posted by: TheDubb | December 7, 2009 3:40 PM
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nowhine

You still should not miss a short FG with a game on the line. Thats what they pay him for, not to catch, not to tackle but to make FG's like the one he missed. No excuse. As for Tiger and his 10 women, living in the its all about me and my 15 minutes of fame any way I can get it world we live in dont be surprise if the list is up to 20 by next week. But dont be surprise if most of those claiming are bogus trying to get their reality moment in the media. Ever notice how all of these women seemed to have kept quiet until now? I guess they were all waiting for the right moment? How do you keep 10 women quiet all of this time now you cant get them to stop coming out of the woodwork? When you are worth 100 million dollars everyone wants a piece. Some people dont care if they are found to be bogus so as long as they got the exposure they feel the next stop will be their own reality show once they get their foot in the media door. You think women wont lie about sleeping with Tiger right now to get exposure? Be on the lookout for the Tiger gay rumors next. Some gay guy will be claiming to have slept with Tiger. Now do you think Tiger should still call a press conference to explain 10 different women claiming to have sex with him?

Posted by: ged0386 | December 7, 2009 3:25 PM
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In the Washington Post today the long snapper is taking the blame for a high snap. He says it is his fault the kick was missed. Enough blame to go all around in that game. Yes in truth the Skins are looking better each week. But then they always do start to win when the games don't matter any more. Just like the Washington Nationals.

Posted by: joebstewart | December 7, 2009 3:05 PM
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I don't know who Landry's backup is, but he needs to become the starter. Landry's mentality is not suited for a free safety. His is strictly a strong safety. Has he set the record yet for most touchdowns given up by a safety? He will if he isn't moved. Hate to say this, but if Sean Taylor had been playing, we win the game (and the Philly game as well).

Posted by: theStockman | December 7, 2009 2:50 PM
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There is no reason to believe that Suisham didn't cost the Skins the game yesterday. That's two games now in the last three that he has directly affected. It is inexcusable to miss a kick from extra-point range. Looks like we'll be in the market for a new kicker in the offseason! Wilbon got this one completely right.
On a separate note, I really don't understand this team. Are they really the playoff-caliber roster that is only a few minor adjustments away from being a contender that we've seen in the last four weeks, or are they the NFL bottom-feeder in rebuilding mode that lost to Detroit, KC, and Carolina? Really confusing stuff. And I don't know what to think about Campbell, maybe he is finally grasping the new offense. To be a Redskins fan...

Posted by: ASchumacher | December 7, 2009 2:30 PM
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"scuse me..

But Suisham is the only reason they won two of the three games they won all year. Did Wilbon forget that? And what does he think of Tiger and his mistress list being up to 10 women now? Will he call for AT&T and even Nike to end their deals with him??? Inquiring minds want to know Wilbon....

Posted by: nowhine | December 7, 2009 2:09 PM
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jkilroy1

Pat Fisher wore #37; Landry wears 30

Posted by: brad40 | December 7, 2009 2:03 PM
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Suisham did not necessarily cost us Washington that game:
What everyone seems to be forgetting about the end of the Saints game is after New Orleans scored the tying TD, there was enough time for them to recover an onside kick and win or tie in regulation anyway. So the Suisham miss did not necessarily cost the Redskins the game. After all the flukey things that happened, I can imagine the Saints recovering an onside kick, can't you?

Posted by: DCNative611 | December 7, 2009 1:47 PM
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Do you realize how many co-incidences had to come together for the Skins to blow THAT one ?

A minute and 56 seconds left with 4th and goal at the two yard line, and up seven...and they lost the game

I turned away to handle some laundry and next thing I knew the Saints had the ball at the 20 yd line

I knew it was all over for the Skins right then and there !

That darned Murphey's Law is alive and well, and running rampant in DC.

Calling time out seemed to be the final downfall. Each time Washington called Time Out, the Saints decided to move the ball a little closer instead of trying a long (miss-able) field goal.

I moved to California in '78, and even worked as an usher for the Rams a couple of years before Georgia moved them to St Louis, but the Redskins are still MY home team.

Redskins...Love-em or Leave Town !
I do, I did, and I still do. Go Skins!
Jimbo

Posted by: mulveysrjk | December 7, 2009 1:35 PM
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I am going to disagree with Mike that Suisham has to go. In my opinion, the high snap caused a delay in timing, and also allowed a Saints' defender rushing from the end to possibly distract him. My biggest question is, if you're running to set up the field goal, then why are you running off tackle, outside of the hashmarks. If you run the ball up the middle, the ball is placed in the middle of the field, and Suisham doesn't miss. To me, this was a coaching/play-calling blunder.

Posted by: mitcht22 | December 7, 2009 12:35 PM
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Mike - as a 50 yr Skins fan, last 10 have been tough to take, never as tough as yesterday - as a high school football coach in San Diego, you're right, we make that kick - Landry (how can the Skins ever let a guy with THAT name play for them)is everything we teach our kids NOT to be - pompous, getting-beat, showboating jerk - give Pat Fisher back his jersey#

Posted by: jkilroy1 | December 7, 2009 12:32 PM
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My 'skins have been so bad this year, that I came away from the game feeling pretty good about them. Go figure.

I know the replay box slept through Sellers' fumble, and I think they blew it on Moore's interception one way or the other. My call was incomplete pass.

Posted by: TomGarth | December 7, 2009 12:26 PM
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What? No criticism for the long snapper?

Also, I know it is college, but the Pitt placekicking operation botched an extra point that cost them the game and allowed Cincy to stay undefeated.

Posted by: slar | December 7, 2009 12:24 PM
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Watching the Redskins is like watching the same video tape of a train wreck over and over, and expecting a different result.

My 13 year old daughter knew better than I did. She said she couldn't watch any more after that last interception.

Posted by: mhs101255 | December 7, 2009 1:30 AM
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