Well, here we are again, talking on Monday about a “could have been” Skins victory, although this one stings a lot worse than last week. It took me a full day to process that epic 4th quarter meltdown, complete with an unconverted 3rd down, a bad call to take the team out of field goal range, and a last second sack/fumble to end regulation. Oh, and for good measure, let’s throw in a play where the $24 million dollar quarterback gets his bell rung and your best offensive weapon is lost for the season with a broken leg bone. Are we having fun yet?
Let’s start back at the beginning with a bit of a recap. It looked early on like it was going to be a shootout, with both offenses moving the ball up and down the field with little trouble. No one was giving the Skins a chance in this game, so getting out to a quick lead and hanging with the Saints was actually quite an auspicious start. Failure to come away with touchdowns in the red zone and yet another bad sequence to end the first half took some of the air out of the team, although starting the second half with the lead and the ball certainly made it seem like they were still in the game.
And the worst part is that they WERE still in the game. The offense had one of it’s best games of the season, with Samaje Perine leading the way. He had the first hundred yard game of his career and made a statement that he plans to solidify his new position as the feature back for this team. Josh Doctson was targeted repeatedly early in the game and demonstrated exactly why he was a first round pick, showing off his great hands and ability to come away with 50/50 balls. He saw fewer targets late, but he and Perine were definitely to best weapons Cousins had. The offense performed admirably and had given the team a 15 point lead with just a few minutes remaining in the game.
And then it all fell apart. It didn’t just fall apart; it imploded like the Georgia Dome this morning in Atlanta. Drew Brees and the Saints offense got the ball and cut through the Redskins defenders like a hot knife through butter, scoring an easy touchdown to cut the lead to 8. With so little time left, surely the Skins offense could run the clock down and move the ball on the ground, you say? Ha! I mock your unfounded optimism! Unable to sustain the drive, they gave the Saints the ball back and Brees proceeded to march right down the field again, this time assisted by an inexplicable challenge from the Redskins on an obvious catch that stopped the clock for them. They then had plenty of time to score another touchdown and easily convert for 2 to tie the game. (Did I mention that the Redskins defense looked like a JV high school team playing against pros? I love D-Hall, but this game was downright awful for him and his failures played a critical role in both the final scoring drives that cost his team the game.)
But wait! There was still time for one last Redskins drive to kick a field goal and win the game, right? Well sure, there was time, but it was not to be. After a beautiful quick drive down into field goal range, Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden had some sort of miscommunication (don’t they have radios to talk to each other?!?) and Cousins threw the ball out of bounds right after a snap. The idiotic and incompetent officials decided that this was intentional grounding, although Cousins was under no pressure from the defense, and they penalized the Skins 10 yards and 10 seconds, putting them out of field goal range. The clock then restarted prior to the next snap and in the ensuing confusion, Cousins took a sack, fumbled the ball, and we were headed to overtime. What a complete and total disaster of a sequence!
The overtime was as painful as it was predictable. The Skins were unable to score on the opening drive, so the Saints got the ball, marched unceremoniously down the field, and kicked an easy field goal for the win. It was an embarrassing debacle of a loss, but as a DC sports fan, it’s not even the worst one in the past month. The Nationals own that honor! With a short week and a Thanksgiving game against the division rival Giants on the horizon, we’ll see if the Burgundy and Gold can redeem themselves, at least a little bit. Given their track record in nationally televised games, signs point to no, but the Giants have been so bad this year that maybe they can pull it off. Either way, yesterday’s loss was probably the end of the line for these Redskins, with a playoff berth looking increasing out of reach.