Analyze That: Dolphins 24, Redskins 23

This got old long ago, as in years. As in nearly a decade. For most of the past 10 years the Redskins have lost in crushing ways and seemingly haven't learned how to win since Joe Gibbs retired. Once again they had a team down, once again they let them get back in the game with untimely plays. Once again they lost a close game.

Norv Turner must have felt right at home watching the Redskins lose this kind of a game, considering those games were the trademark of his Redskins tenure. But this one hurt the Redskins worse as now, even if they finished with an unlikely five-game winning streak, they'd need help to make the playoffs. They're being eliminated earlier and earlier with each passing year.

Nearly triumphant: Quarterback Tim Hasselbeck looked a lot like Danny Wuerffel Sunday night. That is, Wuerffel on a good night. Hasselbeck does not have a strong arm, so he knows what he must do: get rid of the ball quickly and to an open receiver. That's what he did in the first half, completing 10 of 14 passes. The Redskins benefited. His mobility helped, too, On one touchdown drive, Hasselbeck sprinted through an opening after spotting no one open. He gained 11 yards for a first down at the Miami 6-yard line. In the fourth quarter, with a blitzing defensive back racing at him, Hasselbeck calmly backpedaled, waiting for back Chad Morton to clear on a short crossing route. He hit Morton for a nine-yard gain; a less mobile quarterback would have been sacked.

But Hasselbeck showed he's nothing more than emergency relief with a five-for-16 second half, throwing behind receivers more than in the first half. The Dolphins also blitzed him more.

Real culprit: Patrick Johnson's fumbled punt return was bad, but the real reason Washington lost is because it can't fully capitalize on gifts. The defense gave them the ball at the 8-yard line in the first quarter, thanks to a David Terrell interception. But the Redskins settled for a field goal. Later in the game Zeron Flemister recovered a fumbled punt at the 16, which led to yet another field goal. And that continues a negative trend of late.

Washington is horrible converting turnovers into points and it has cost them three games: Miami, Dallas and Carolina. Part of the problem is the lack of a strong runner in the red zone, making the Redskins easier to defend in this area. Their longest scoring run this season is 13 yards.

Bad game: Safety Matt Bowen. He took a very bad angle on the 80-yard touchdown pass to receiver James McKnight, seeming oblivious to another Dolphin in his path. That bad angle enabled McKnight to race easily downfield. He later took a poor angle on Ricky Williams' 24-yard touchdown run. Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete also had a couple bad plays because of poor angles, though on Williams' scoring run it appeared he or linebacker Jeremiah Trotter were out of position at the snap.

Good game: Right tackle Jon Jansen, who was facing Miami's Adewale Ogunleye, he of the 10 sacks. But Ogunleye was quiet all game thanks to Jansen. And Jansen also threw a key block on linebacker Junior Seau, clearing the way for Trung Canidate's two-yard run. Canidate finally had a couple nice runs, showing some burst. But the Redskins needed some bulk and he can't provide it; Canidate is too one-dimensional and that one dimension isn't always visible.

Let's see more of: Chad Morton. Every time he gets the ball the defense has to flinch a little bit. Even though Johnson fumbled the punt, I'd rather have him do that role to allow Morton more time in the backfield. Here's why: on a first and 10 from the 44, Washington spread the field with three receivers left and one to the right. Morton then ran a draw up the gut, juked safety Brock Marion and ran 27 yards. Canidate supposedly has speed; Morton is explosive and makes guys miss. On an offense searching for weapons, he's underused.

Standup guy: Patrick Johnson. He botched the punt and he stood up and talked about it, never making any excuses. It's what professionals should do, but they don't always do. Johnson is a class act.

Locker room scene: The Redskins appeared more ticked off after a loss than in any previous game this season. After the game, a couple players whipped their bags into their lockers -- Jeremiah Trotter was one, LaVar Arrington was another. Trotter kept bemoaning the fact that, ``We don't make plays, man.'' Owner Dan Snyder sat slumped in a chair next to Jansen, both looking wiped out from another emotionally draining loss.

Speaking out: End Bruce Smith also was very upset, partly because of the loss and because he didn't play more. Smith felt that he could have taken advantage of a rookie left tackle and he might have a point. Thing is, Smith hasn't shown enough this season to warrant more playing time. The ends have been invisible against the run.

Also, Smith looked highly selfish by complaining about his playing time after the game to owner Dan Snyder. If Smith plays more this week, you'll know why. And it won't be because he's earned the time.


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