PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Drew Brees was mediocre, at best, as he struggled with a stout Redskins pass rush early on. He never got in a real rhythm and completed just half of his 44 passes for 215 yards. He also had three interceptions. Plus, Chargers receivers dropped at least six passes, with the usually reliable Antonio Gates having three bounce off his mitts. The Chargers were very fortunate to escape with a win considering their execution in the passing game.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- The previous week, LaDainian Tomlinson didn't have to carry much of the load with Brees' solid play. But the roles were reversed on Sunday, with Tomlinson doing the heavy lifting to the tune of three touchdowns and 184 rushing yards. The run blocking was much better than the pass blocking, and the trap play with RG Mike Goff leading the way was working especially well. Tomlinson was, again, sensational.
PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- There wasn't much of a consistent pass rush, although the Chargers did collect two sacks. Mark Brunell had too much time most of the day, and the fact he only got 194 passing yards on 27 attempts says something about the improved play of the secondary. The tackling after catches, though, often left something to be desired. In particular, Drayton Florence must do a better job of wrapping up pass-catchers.
RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- Clinton Portis, for the first time in five career games against the Chargers, didn't rush for 100 yards; he did finish with 91. But the inside linebackers, Randall Godfrey and Donnie Edwards, played well and combined for 16 tackles. Jamal Williams was also a load in the middle and finished with five tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Nate Kaeding missed two of his three field-goal attempts but was true on his last one in the fourth quarter. Coach Marty Schottenheimer was downright giddy that his kickoff coverage teams played better. The Redskins averaged just 14.8 yards on four returns, which is considerably less than what the Chargers had been allowing. The previous week, the Bills collected 239 yards on nine kickoffs, including returns of 45 and 42 yards.
COACHING: A -- Schottenheimer had his charges stay the course, which speaks to the confidence this team has in itself and its coach. Make no mistake, the Chargers did not play that great. But they didn't get discouraged, which is saying something when being on the road and against a team playing, basically, for its season. The staff made some nice halftime adjustments that slowed the Redskins' pass rush in the second half; Tomlinson's run blocking also was better in the second half and overtime.
Redskins Report Card:
PASSING OFFENSE: C -- QB Mark Brunell had a pretty solid day (17-for-27, 194 yards and a TD) without his injured second and third wide receivers. However, Brunell completed just two passes over 18 yards as he threw for fewer than 200 yards for the second straight game. Brunell strangely threw short of the marker twice, had one ugly lateral and was just 2-for-6 for 14 yards in another scoreless fourth quarter. WR Santana Moss caught six balls but for just 65 yards. Even his 22-yard grab wasn't a downfield play. That part of the arsenal seems to be a memory. WR Taylor Jacobs had four catches for 44 yards and three first downs. Just re-signed WR Jimmy Farris had an 18-yard catch. TE Chris Cooley was pretty quiet with just three catches for 28 yards. TE Robert Johnson's first Redskins reception was for 14 yards and a first down. But TE Robert Royal had three drops, two in the fourth quarter. The line gave up just two sacks, one when Brunell was scrambling, to the sack-happy Chargers.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- RB Clinton Portis kept plugging away with 29 carries but averaged just 3.0 a pop with a long of 8. He did slither his way for 23 yards on a screen that set up backup Rock Cartwright's 13-yard TD. The line committed just two penalties, but one was the fatal call against C Casey Rabach that pushed back K John Hall's field-goal attempt in the final minute. And the line didn't open many holes against San Diego's top-ranked run defense.
PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- DE Phillip Daniels had his second sack. DT Cornelius Griffin batted down a pass. LB Marcus Washington was a force, especially early, with 1 1/2 sacks and the breakup of LaDainian Tomlinson's option toss to QB Drew Brees. LB Chris Clemons forced Brees into an incompletion. After not having any interceptions all year, CBs Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers and Walt Harris all picked off Brees once. Top draft pick Rogers supplanted Harris in the lineup as the game progressed. SS Ryan Clark shared a sack with Washington. FS Sean Taylor had some big hits.
RUSH DEFENSE: C-plus -- Griffin fought through the pain in his hip to play for the first time this month. DT Joe Salave'a had his foot give out again. LBs Lemar Marshall and LaVar Arrington were each credited with five solo tackles, but Arrington also was victimized on Tomlinson's game-tying run. Taylor got caught upfield on both of Tomlinson's backbreaking touchdown runs. The Redskins held up pretty well against a good San Diego offense until it mattered the most.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- K John Hall booted a 38-yarder but didn't have the leg for the 53-yarder that would've won it. P Derrick Frost got some hang time but little distance as the Redskins lost the field-position battle. Antonio Brown, back again as the return man, did nothing. The coverage units, minus injured leaders Mike Sellers and James Thrash, gave up one long return to Darren Sproles, but it didn't set up a score.
COACHING: C -- Coach Joe Gibbs called a reverse on the first play, which was a bust, and then got conservative during a series of three-and-outs in the fourth quarter and only generated 17 points. Defensive boss Gregg Williams had all the answers for L.T. and Co. until it counted the most.
Center Cory Raymer is the only Redskin to be a part of the 1996 (from 7-1 to 8-7) and 2000 (from 6-2 to 7-6) collapses as well as the current slide. Raymer also played on the 2002 Chargers, the last NFL team to lose three in a row in the last 70 seconds of regulation or in overtime.
"Those teams weren't as good as this one," Raymer said. "In '96, we were a young team that didn't know how to win yet. On paper, the 2000 team shouldn't have lost a game, but everybody was doing his own thing. This team is sticking together. No one's pointing fingers."