When you lose a game by a point, a team can go back and point a finger at almost any moment during the game where something went wrong.
One such moment for the Redskins on Sunday came in the second quarter. With the Cowboys leading 7-3, Washington embarked on one of their better drives of the game, moving from their own 21 to a first and goal at the nine. They got closer after a Kirk Cousins pass to Darrel Young set up third and goal at the two.
Then the march backward started. Santana Moss saw Cousins shift back from under center to shotgun formation. Thinking the ball had been snapped, he took off early. The false start pushed the line of scrimmage back to the seven. It looked for a moment that Mike Shanahan would have a tough fourth-down decision to make as a Cousins pass to Pierre Garçon got them inside the one.
But due to a flag for an illegal shift it became third down at the 12. For good measure, the Redskins had to burn a timeout due to some confusion as they lined up. A Cousins pass to Moss over the middle got the ball to the four and Kai Forbath booted a 22-yard field goal. Where the could have had seven points they were forced to settle for three.
The Redskins actually haven’t been bad in goal to go situations. They have converted those on into touchdowns 73 percent of the time, 11th in the NFL. But when you essentially stop yourself because of a Keystone Cops-style sequence of events when you’re in the 15th game of the fourth year of a coaching regime and lose by a point, the mistakes are magnified.