Monday, September 17, 2012
Redskins can't afford mistakes
By Dan Graziano
The biggest mistake the Washington Redskins made Sunday, and the one that will get the most attention going forward, was Josh Morgan's late-game loss of temper that turned a borderline 47-yard game-tying field goal attempt into an impossible 62-yard one. Morgan was humiliated and contrite and likely knows he'll suffer the scorn of Redskins fans when he runs onto the field for the home opener Sunday.
Josh Morgan's penalty was just one of many that cost the Redskins.
But while Morgan's mistake may ultimately have been the costliest, it was merely the last in a long line of Redskins mistakes that helped cost them a Week 2 game they should have won in St. Louis.
Robert Griffin III was breathtaking once again, but his second-quarter interception was a bad-decision, trying-to-do-too-much play -- the kind for which Michael Vick gets roundly ripped several times a week. It helped the Rams cut a 21-13 lead to 21-16 just before the end of the first half.
The Redskins were penalized 11 times for 96 yards in the game, which (doing some quick math here) means 10 penalties for 81 yards before Morgan lost it at the end. The majority of the penalties came after halftime, as the Redskins were blowing the lead and falling behind. Five of them were either false starts by the offense or offsides by the defense -- avoidable, unforced discipline penalties the likes of which make coaches crazy. Yeah, you're playing in a dome, but you need to stay on the right side of the line.
For the second time in as many games, the Redskins had a punt blocked. This one led to the touchdown that gave the Rams the 31-28 lead in the fourth quarter.
Little stuff, but lots of it, and the Redskins aren't the kind of team that can afford it. The Eagles make their mistakes, but they have this incredibly deep, tough, physical defense that never gets tired and can throttle the opposing offense and give Vick time to find his way back into the game. The Giants make their mistakes, but they have a two-time Super Bowl-MVP quarterback who can win games by himself in the fourth quarter like some kind of magician.
The Redskins? They have a good-looking defense that has some holes. Especially in the secondary, where Rams receiver Danny Amendola found every hole there was and some no one had even known about on his way to 15 catches for 160 yards. The Redskins have a rookie quarterback who looks like everything we've been told he'd be but is still learning on the job and will be better on the weeks when things go right. Down the road, will Griffin be the kind of quarterback who can rescue the Redskins from their mistakes? They believe so. But in Game 2 of his NFL career, it's too much to ask.
The Redskins should have played better, and they probably let some of the Rams' extracurricular aggressiveness get to them. And the losses to injury of Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker surely affected things they were able to do on defense. But they only lost this NFL road game by three points, and you have to believe cutting out just a couple or three of those many mistakes could have swung it the other way for them.