Redskins just a quarter away

Redskins just a quarter away
December 16, 2010, 11:48 pm
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Thursday, December 16, 2010, 6:46 p.m.

By Ryan OHalloran
Staff writer


When the end finally comes and the obituary is written on another lost Redskins season, there will be ample words dedicated to in-game ruts they hit, cancelling out the long pass completions and key takeaways.

Be it the first quarter or the fourth quarter, a key turnover or three-and-out, the Redskins have become a team that often does plenty of good things only to break their own backs.

The current result is a 5-8 record (1-5 in the last six games) entering Sundays contest in Dallas.

Its the story of the season, center Casey Rabach said. We play really good football and then you have that lull. The third quarter against Tampa Bay was definitely that lull.

Leading 10-3 at halftime against the Buccaneers, the Redskins offense shifted into park, going three-and-out to keep Tampa Bay hanging around and eventually leave with a 17-16 win.

At times, were stale, receiver Santana Moss said. We had that good freshness about us early in the first half and we came out in the second half and for whatever reason, we were stale. Thats the time we should be sharper and build off what we did earlier.

The Tampa Bay game was the latest example of how a prime opportunity for victory turned into another loss.

In seven of their eight losses, the Redskins have turned in a stinky quarter. A look back:
Week 2 vs. HoustonThe lull: Fourth quarter and overtime.
Before the lull: When Donovan McNabb threw 22 yards to Chris Cooley with 3:51 left in the third quarter, the Redskins led 27-10 and McNabb was on his way to 426 yards and by far his best game of the year.
What then happened: The Redskins fell apart as soon as they seized a 17-point lead (their largest of the season) and lost 30-27 in overtime. Offensively, their last five drives ended with three punts (on three three-and-outs), a blocked field goal and a missed field goal. Defensively, the Redskins ended up allowing 526 yards. Houston scored on four of its last seven drives.

Week 3 at St. LouisThe lull: First seven minutes of game.
Before the lull: The tone was probably set during pregame when punter Josh Bidwell injured his hip while working out in one end zone, triggering a season-long problem at the position. The Redskins are now on their third punter.
What then happened: Against a team that had lost 35 of their previous 38 games and against a rookie quarterback (Sam Bradford) making only his third start, the Redskins were no-shows. St. Louis took the opening kickoff and drove 60 yards for a touchdown. The Rams made it 14-0 just 6:12 into the game after they took advantage of a fumble. The Redskins started fumble-blocked punt-punt and even though they eventually led 16-14, this game was doomed from the start. The Rams won 30-16.

Week 8 at DetroitThe lull: The fourth quarter.
Before the lull: Another year, another struggle in Detroit for the Redskins but they led 25-20 with 8:05 remaining after Brandon Banks 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Redskins were eight minutes away from entering their bye with a 5-3 record.
What then happened: Detroit scored the final 17 points for a 37-25 record and this one can be pinned on the offensespecial teams. The Lions points came on 47-yard drive (thanks to a 37-yard kickoff return), a 37-yard drive after a McNabb interception and a Lions fumble recovery after McNabb was famously benched in favor of Rex Grossman. The Redskins final four drives interception, downs, fumble and end of game. This loss triggered the current 1-5 skid.
Week 10 vs. PhiladelphiaThe lull: The first quarter again.
Before the lull: Hours prior to kickoff, McNabbs contract extension was announced. It was the highlight of his night.
What then happened: The game started and unlike the teams first meeting, Michael Vick didnt get hurt. Philadelphia scored touchdowns on its first four possessions and by the time the first quarter was over, the Eagles led 28-0 and had totaled 255 yards. The Redskins, meanwhile, started punt-interception-punt-punt in what ended as an embarrassing 59-28 defeat that was the worst possible start to the seasons second half.
Week 12 vs. MinnesotaThe lull: The third quarter.
Before the lull: The Vikings and Redskins were tied at 7-all entering the second half. Minnesota had lost running back Adrian Peterson to an ankle injury.
What then happened: Minnesota took the second-half opening kickoff and drove 69 yards for a go-ahead touchdown and later capitalized on a Santana Moss dropped pass-turned-interception to kick a field goal as a raging brawl carried on in front of the press box. The Vikings held on for a 17-13 win when Brett Favre ran for a third-down conversion. In the third quarter, the Redskins offense hit their almost-every-game rut, going punt-punt-interception.

Week 13 at NY GiantsThe lull: The first half.
Before the lull: The Redskins made defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth inactive because of illness. He was suspended two days later.
What then happened: New Yorks running game did whatever it wanted to do. The Giants started the game with identical 7-play, 59-yard touchdown drives and later converted on a Redskins turnover to lead 21-0 at halftime and eventually win 31-7. On their first two scoring drives, the Giants ran on nine of the 14 plays and rushed 21 times for 139 yards in the first half.
Week 14 vs. Tampa BayThe lull: Third quarter.
Before the lull: Despite fumbling the end of the first half (bad clock management), the Redskins entered the third quarter with a 10-3 lead.
What then happened: Armed with decent field position their own 31- and 45-yard lines the Redskins offense stalled, going three-and-out (gaining 15 yards) to keep Tampa Bay in the game. The Buccaneers werent much better but turned a muffed kickoff and a punt into two field goals to get within a point and later win by a point.

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