Monday Night Misery for Redskins
The Washington Redskins entered the game against the Carolina Panthers in control of their own playoff destiny as long as they won out. They were playing extremely well offensively and good enough defensively to win a number of games.
On Monday Night Football in front of millions of people in the U.S. and around the globe the Redskins collapsed. They played their worst game of the year in a 26-15 loss. Washington has now lost 15 of their last 16 home games on Monday Night Football.
The Redskins got off to a bad start. The Panthers scored 10 points on their opening three possessions. Washington had a three and out, field goal, interception, and another three and out on their opening four possessions. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins completely misread the defense on the interception, which led to a Panthers field goal.
On the Redskins fifth possession running back Rob Kelley scored on a five-yard touchdown run. Kicker Dustin Hopkins continued his disastrous season missing the extra point. It was a bad omen for the way the rest of the game would go. Washington went into halftime down 13-9.
On the first offensive snap of the second half Cousins was sacked and lost the ball. The Panthers recovered on the Redskins one-yard line. The Panthers took advantage and scored a touchdown to take a 20-9 lead.
Washington responded with two straight three and outs.
At the end of the third quarter the Redskins had the ball at the Panthers 10 yard line. After a short loss on a running play Washington tight end Jordan Reed punched a Panther’s player in the helmet and was ejected from the game. Worst of all the Redskins were pushed 15 yards backwards due to a penalty all but eliminating any chance of a touchdown.
Despite all that had happened the Redskins were still in the game down 23-12 early in the fourth quarter. The Redskins took over on offense with a little under 11 minutes left with the game still very much on the line. The Redskins again came up short on offense.
The Redskins final three drives ended in a punt, field goal and a fumble. That is not a way to finish a football game.
The Panthers played a decent game, but it was the Redskins who shot themselves in the foot. The Redskins defense played fairly well and only gave up 19 points if you exclude the touchdown when the Panthers took over at Washington’s one-yard line.
Cousins has had a remarkable season and set the Redskins single season record for passing yards (beating the mark he set last year). He did not perform well against the Panthers. Early in the game he was uncharacteristically inaccurate and was missing routine throws. His receivers did not help as Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson both dropped easy catches on third down.
Perhaps Washington should be thankful that their playoff chances are now slim. The Redskins are simply not good enough to make any noise in the postseason (if they make it).
The Redskins defense ranks in the bottom third of the NFL when it comes to yards per game, passing yards per game and rushing yards per game. The defensive line lacks talent outside of Chris Baker. The inside linebackers are not athletic enough to cover talented tight ends and running backs. The Redskins still have not found an impact safety. The last elite safety that the Redskins had was the late Sean Taylor in 2007. To this day no Redskins safety has come even remotely close to playing as well as Taylor did during his short time in Washington.
The offense has played well for the most part this season with a lot of talented weapons. In crucial games and at important moments within games they have come up short. Cousins threw an interception late against the Cowboys the first time. On Thanksgiving in the second matchup with the Cowboys the offense was unable to score a touchdown for large stretches of the game. The Redskins had crucial turnovers against the Cardinals. Against the Panthers the Redskins laid an egg.
The Redskins offensive line did not get it done against the Panthers. Washington struggled on the ground finishing the game with 13 carries for 29 yards (11 of those yards were scrambles by Cousins).
The Redskins offense was 2-12 on third down, was one for three in the red zone and had three turnovers. That simply does not cut it in the NFL.
This may be a season of missed opportunities for the Redskins. Washington could have beaten the Cowboys (twice), the Lions, the Bengals, the Cardinals and the Panthers. Each game has a different story, but the Bengals game and the Panthers game may be the most frustrating. The Redskins missed a field goal late in overtime against the Bengals and the game ended in a tie. The Redskins simply did not show up against the Panthers and were embarrassed on a national stage.
If Washington had won even one or two of those games it would be a different story.
The Redskins now need to win out and have Tampa Bay and Green Bay lose at least one of their final two games. The final two games for the Redskins will not be easy. The Bears have been playing teams pretty tough and narrowly lost to the Packers. The Redskins final game is against the Giants who have handed the Cowboys their only two losses of the season.