Analyze That: Carolina 20, Washington 17

The Redskins had their chances. Again. The Redskins did nothing with those chances. Again. And that's why they're 4-6 and staring at another season out of the playoffs. Carolina dominated the numbers, outgaining Washington, 427-181, but the Redskins still led 17-13 late in the game. Alas, ex-Redskin Stephen Davis scored on a four-yard run (or did he?) for the win.

Close call: The final touchdown for Carolina was deemed controversial. Did Stephen Davis cross the goal line before having the ball knocked loose? Had his knee touched before the fumble? Both are legitimate questions, but neither could be answered conclusively by the replay. My thought? Davis barely broke the plane -- I couldn't see when his knee hit. My other thought? Washington allowed too many big plays on that drive to complain about this final call.

Bad decision: Middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter has guessed a few times this season on short-yardage plays. Against the Jets he stuffed a third and one; same thing against the Seahawks. But he abandoned his responsibility on the fourth and one Sunday, leaving Davis all alone for an easy grab. Trotter bit hard on the fake handoff to Davis, storming into the line. He almost sacked quarterback Jake Delhomme, who then threw to Davis -- his last option on the play. Maybe Marvin Lewis was too rigid at times last year, but he had this defense playing disciplined. That's no longer the case.

Blown chances: The Redskins managed just three points off four Panther turnovers, despite getting the ball at the Carolina 25, 19, 39 and their own 49 yard lines. It was too reminiscent of the Cowboys game when Washington forced three first-half turnovers and produced nothing.

Poor coaching: Why does running back Trung Canidate continue to get carries? Haven't we seen that this guy can't make plays, despite his supposed glorious speed? Personally, I like Trung; he's a good guy to talk to. But he doesn't break tackles, he's not all that elusive and almost never makes the first guy miss. Granted, Rock Cartwright fumbled on his first carry Sunday, but he should have gotten more carries in the first half (he had none after the miscue). Cartwright sparked the offense a little in the second half and constantly made the first defender miss, the first requisite for a quality back. Maybe Cartwright can't handle it fulltime; let's find out.

Questionable call: On third and goal from the 10, Washington called for a quarterback draw by Patrick Ramsey. The Redskins spread the field nicely, but the middle was still a bit clogged. Regardless, what are they thinking asking Ramsey to do this? He's not exactly a running quarterback.

Most hurt player: Cartwright. After the game teammates tried to console him, but few, if any, were successful. One local TV reporter even gave him a hug, a rare (and frowned upon) sight. Still, Cartwright exited the locker room with reddened eyes, blaming himself for the loss because of his fumble. Thing is, there's plenty of blame to go around.

Tough matchup: The Redskins' offensive line had its problems against Carolina's front four, considered one of the best in the NFL. The player who gave them the most fits: tackle Kris Jenkins. He had two sacks and showed lots of quickness. Once he looped outside and beat Jon Jansen to the quarterback. Another time he drew a double team and freed up Julius Peppers for an inside pressure.

Way off: Ramsey played one of his worst halves in the first half, completing five of 12 passes fro 41 yards. On the game's first play, he missed wide open receiver Laveranues Coles off a play-action. It set a tone for the day. But, as in other games, Ramsey had a decent finish, throwing touchdown passes to Patrick Johnson and Darnerien McCants. That's what I like about Ramsey: he can have a bad game, yet still make plays to try and help his team win.

Better game: Linebacker LaVar Arrington was better at playing his assignments Sunday. On consecutive plays in the first quarter the Panthers tested his ability to do so and he passed each time. On the first play, a reverse, Arrington stayed home and forced Steve Smith inside, where Champ Bailey dropped him for a two-yard loss. On the next play, a play-action toss to the tight end, Arrington covered and stopped the play for a two-yard gain. Arrington also lined up more at left end on passing downs than he had all season. As much as he disliked this role last year, it's necessary for him to do it again because no one else is getting any kind of push. Plus he still messes up too often on third down coverages to keep him in there. And he hasn't done much as a blitzer.

Bad note: Davis eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on his first carry of the game, an eight-yard run. The Redskins' backs have rushed for only 984 yards combined.


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