Redskins Come Up Short

One play could have turned their season around, much like it did in 2001 when LaVar Arrington returned a pass for a touchdown. This time, one play might have derailed their season. Or at least ended any legitimate playoff hopes.

Sunday's loss to Green Bay gave Joe Gibbs only the the third three-game home losing streak of his career (1981, '88). Now he's in jeopardy of finishing with double-digit losses for the first time in his career. This was not expected. But I keep coming back to this point: he did not take over a glorious franchise as he once did. Instead, he took over a mediocre one and maybe the path to the top will take longer than the first go-round. It certainly appears that way.

And, with two games left against Philadelphia, another one against the Giants, another one at Dallas and one against Minnesota, the outlook, for now, is bleak. Sorry.

The call: And you know what we're talking about. Unfortunately for the Redskins, it was a good one. The rule clearly states that a player going in motion must come to a complete stop for one second. James Thrash was not set for an entire second before the ball was snapped, nullifying what would have been the most dramatic play of the season. But the officials got it right.

The other call: But the officials blew the next call. Al Harris intercepted the pass, but he also held receiver Rod Gardner on the play. Don't make a big deal of holding during the summer if you're not going to call it during the season. This was a blatant terrible call. Did it cost the Redskins the game? Who knows. But it cost them a chance.

The culprit: Official Tom White's crew was responsible for these calls, and non-calls. They're also the crew that called a phantom false start in the Redskins loss at New York, nullifying another Clinton Portis score.

Good to see: The way Washington's defense responded. Green Bay nailed the Redskins with big plays in the first half. But give coach Gregg Williams, his staff and the players credit. They adjusted and took away some of the Packer routes in the middle of the field, where they were getting beaten. It made a difference. They also were more selective with their blitzes, keeping both safeties back in the second half most of the time.

Nice game: Corner Shawn Springs was good, intercepting two passes. Corner Fred Smoot also intercepted a pass. These guys fight all game and it's fun to watch. They're playing better than I imagined. But Smoot needs to learn how to tackle on a blitz. His whiff of Brett Favre would have been a big play.

More plaudits: to the defensive line. They stopped Ahman Green, thanks in part to the return of end Phillip Daniels and because of the sturdy play of tackle Cornelius Griffin.

Bench the QB?: Not because of this game. And the more I watch Washington's offense, the more I worry about most positions. Also, because of the pressure put on these quarterbacks, the Redskins need a mobile player back there. Patrick Ramsey has not shown he can throw on the run. He's a dropback passer, period. And Tim Hasselbeck is not the answer. Mark Brunell is not playing well and he missed open receivers Sunday. He also made some nice touch passes, including the one to Portis. Neither is his offensive line, which is a major problem -- and disappointment. What scares me is that if the Redskins don't play Ramsey now, I wonder if that's an indictment of him. And if that's the case, then they have no quarterback of the present or of the future.

Big time: Receiver Rod Gardner made two outstanding catches, one for a touchdown in which Harris could easily have distracted him. And another on a third down, reaching high and showing his hand strength by holding onto the pass. Of his last five passes, three have gone for scores. But the Redskins still need more from him.

Did you notice?: The Redskins moving Laveranues Coles all around? He twice lined up in a three-point stance, once cutting a lineman and once going out for a pass. He also played more in the slot than he has all year. The Redskins even added a new wrinkle to their game plan when they threw a screen to him in the slot as opposed to being out wide. But Coles' size works against him in the Red Zone, which is why the fades to him usually don't work.

Bad clock management: The Redskins bungled the clock again near the end of the first half, allowing precious seconds to tick off before calling time with seven seconds remaining. They should have called time earlier and would have had at least two more plays. They could have moved into field goal range. Instead, they threw a Hail Mary.


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