(photo by Brian Murphy)
There’s a lot to like coming out of the Washington Redskins 34-13 domination of the Oakland Raiders this past weekend.
The offense continued to show progress across the board, with tight end Fred Davis and newly-promoted running back Quinton Ganther providing the bulk of the firepower.
The defense, led by a menacing pass rush, finally closed out an opponent after three weeks of failed fourth quarter efforts by sacking Raiders quarterbacks eight times on the day.
Special teams, minus one inept punt returner, stayed out of the way and did a more than adequate job – especially considering Graham Gano earned the kicking job one week prior.
And yet, with so many positives to choose from, we can’t help but turn our attention to something else. That’s because, for the life of us, we simply cannot get the image of defensive end Andre Carter attempting a scoop-and-score situation out of our head.
Here we are, days after the best win of the Jim Zorn era, and all we can see when we think back is Carter, at 6-4, 254 lbs., fumbling around on the ground in a “greased-pig” situation.
As a quick refresher, the Redskins were leading 31-13 with less than eight minutes to go in the game. The Raiders had the ball first-and-10 on the 20, and had no chance of driving 80 yards because JaMarcus Russell was their quarterback.
Redskins rookie defensive end/linebacker Brian Orakpo came flying in from Russell’s blind side and drilled the oversized quarterback from behind – causing the ball to fly out of his hand. Carter saw the loose football sitting on the turf just a few short feet away from the endzone and raced in to score the first touchdown of his nine-year career.
What happened next was the cause of much post-game locker room debate. The cliffnotes version goes something like this – Carter failed to reel in the loose ball and it was eventually recovered by Raiders offensive lineman Mario Henderson.
“I had the perfect view,” said defensive lineman Phillip Daniels. “I was on the sidelines and saw [Orakpo] fly around and strip the ball. I saw the ball laying there, with nobody around. No nothing. And then, I saw Dre come and I said, ‘This is an easy touchdown.’ And then I watched Dre pass the ball. I was like, ‘What the hell did he just do?’ We were just looking at each other on the sidelines, shaking our heads.”
Daniels wasn’t alone in shaking his head.
“I’m disappointed in Andre,” said receiver Devin Thomas. “He really prides himself on his flexibility because he’s so big and muscular. I just knew he was going to get low and scoop that. I know he’s mad, he’s salty about it because he wanted a touchdown. He definitely should have had that one.”
Orakpo left little doubt when asked if he planned on giving Carter grief for not reeling in the would-be touchdown after the rookie caused the fumble on his fourth sack of the day.
“Oh yeah,” he said with a laugh. “I’m gonna because he had an easy touchdown and I don’t think we have a defensive touchdown this whole year. He could have been the first, and he blew it.”
Do you think he just got too excited seeing that ball sitting there just waiting for him?
“I think he did,” Orakpo said. “He normally knows how to pick up a ball, but he got too excited. It was so easy that it made it harder.”
Because the play ultimately didn’t come back to haunt the team, most of the locker room was laughing the play off. Like Orakpo, they all seemed content to have a little fun at Carter’s expense.
“I think we just need to work on that more in practice,” Daniels said. “We need to do some more scoop and score. We ain’t worked on it in a while, but I’m pretty sure it’s coming this week because that was one of those ‘C’mon Man’ moments you’re going to see on Monday Night Football for sure.”
In the post-game locker room one player had already made up his mind on how to help Carter avoid future embarrassment, should the situation arise again down the road.
“I just know I have to buy him some stuffed animals for Christmas,” said linebacker Rocky McIntosh. “So he can have something to grab and be soft with. That’s what I’m going to do. Yeah man, he’s just too ripped. He was on a high already from getting a lot of sacks and he just got too excited. He just needs to think of it as him picking up his son.”
Carter watched us as we bounced around the locker room getting different perspectives on the play that could have been. He knew it was coming, and by the time we headed to his stall, he was already cracking up.
Rocky says he’s buying you a stuffed animal so you can learn to have softer hands. What say you?
(Laughs). “I know, I know,” he said. “I’ve got to kiss the baby, man. I’ve got to kiss the baby.”
So what happened?
“I got excited, man,” Carter said. “I was like a little kid thinking I was gonna get a touchdown. I was like, ‘I’m gonna score a touchdown!’ And then … awwwww. I guess it happens to the very few of us who have no hands. The good thing is we won, so I’ll take the win … but I really wanted that touchdown so bad.”
Carter is easily one of the most likable guys in the locker room. Regardless of whether the team wins or loses, he’s the first player to stand up and answer whatever questions the media has for him. While the fumble recovery for a touchdown got away from him, Carter still finished the game with seven tackles and two sacks.
For the season, Carter now has 11 sacks, which ties him with Orakpo for fourth in the league. He had a great game and has had a very solid season, and yet, we get the sneaking suspicion that, much like us, the only thought on his mind after Oakland is the scoop and score that got away.
[Update: Today is a good day because we've been able to track down the "C'mon Man!" segment featuring Mr. Carter. Here's the link. Skip ahead to the one-minute mark and enjoy the show.]