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Tuesday Take: The Best Loss of the Year

Tuesday Take: The Best Loss of the Year

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

Yeah, I know. It’s all about winning. Joe Gibbs will tell you that. Every other coach from Al Saunders to Bob Saunders will tell you that. Every player from Albright to Yoder will say the same thing.

Still, all losses are not created equal. There are good losses and there are bad losses. That’s the case when you are in playoff contention and it’s especially true if you are eliminated, as the Redskins are. The elimination became official when the game ended on Sunday—the Redskins can’t finish any better than last in the division as the Eagles and Giants hold all of the tiebreakers even if one of them finished 7-9 and a team that’s 4th in its division can’t be a Wild Card—but it has been waiting to become official ever since the Redskins lost to the Tennessee Titans on October 15.

Ever since then, the Redskins have had a string of ugly losses. They withered in the second half in Indianapolis, they were utterly unproductive offensively in Philly, they got run over by a weak Bucs team, and they couldn’t keep a reeling Falcons team down despite holding a 14-0 lead at home.

On Sunday, they seemed to be headed to another bad loss. After a crisp opening drive the turnover bug bit. Jason Campbell didn’t see a linebacker and the Philly pick in Redskin territory set up one touchdown. Safety Michael Lewis returned a tipped ball for another. It looked like the defense might be packing it in after Jeff Garcia completed a long pass to Reggie Brown and the Eagles easily completed the drive to make it 21-3. A collapse to a 30+-point loss seemed to be in the offing.

But the Redskins didn’t let it happen. Campbell and the offense cobbled together a drive to a field goal before halftime to make it 21-6. That was the first of four scoring drives in their next five possessions. The Redskin defense tightened up, forcing two three and outs. After Jason Campbell scrambled to set up a first and goal at the three with the score 21-16 it looked like the Redskins would come all the way back.

But they did not. The last seven minutes of the game demonstrated why the Redskins will finish with a losing record for the eighth time in the last 15 years. They had stuck with giving the ball to Ladell Betts, who has having a career day, even when they were down by 18, right up until they got that first down at the three. In three plays their best offensive weapon got zero touches. A penalty and a sack precluded going for it on fourth down. And then, after having held the Eagles in check for most of the second half, the Washington defense let up, allowing Philly to get a couple of first downs and kill the clock without giving Campbell a chance to try to rally the team to a game-winning field goal.

It was the season in a nutshell. Questionable play calling, confusion leading to a dumb penalty, bad luck (Chris Cooley was the primary receiver on the second and goal pass but he stumbled), and the inability to get a key defensive stop adding up to not getting it done.

Still, the good thing was that they were in a position to blow the game at the end. Again, that sounds dumb, but in a season like this one it’s reality. You’d like to think that players making six- and seven-figure incomes wouldn’t mail it in no matter what the score in a game or the situation in a season. But the stark reality is that they do (did anyone see the Rams last night?).

The game also could have been a key in the development of Campbell. He rebounded from a dreadful first half to post a QB rating of 118 in the final 30 minutes. His TD pass to Antwaan Randle El was as perfect as his first interception was ugly.

Tough times don’t mold character, they reveal it. At 21-3, this game was as much of a gut check as being down by four in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. The Redskins passed the test, even though they revealed some of their many flaws in doing so.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington for the 1937 season through 2001. It makes the perfect stocking stuffer for the Redskins fans on your shopping list. For details and ordering information go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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Redskins promote CB Phillips from practice squad, waive Bruton Jr. and Clausell

Redskins promote CB Phillips from practice squad, waive Bruton Jr. and Clausell

The Redskins made a roster move just before departing for Arizona to play the Cardinals.

They signed cornerback Dashaun Phillips from the practice squad and cut offensive tackle Blaine Clausell. The Redskins also waived safety David Bruton Jr. off of injured reserve.

Phillips was the Redskins’ nickel corner for the first three games of the season, and he made four tackles and recovered a fumble. But they moved rookie Kendall Fuller up into the slot corner role in Week 4 and Phillips spent several weeks on the inactive list before being waived on November 12 and added to the practice squad three days later.

The moves became known after Redskins coach Jay Gruden had spoken to the media for the day so we can only speculate as to the reasoning behind them. Actually, the release of Clausell isn’t hard to figure out. He was signed after Trent Williams started his four-game suspension and with Williams set to return on Monday and the other options at backup tackle healthy there was no point in keeping him around.

Phillips is likely going to Arizona as an insurance policy. The Cardinals like to spread the field with a lot of wide receivers. They will want to have five cornerbacks active. They do have Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, and Greg Toler. But Breeland is listed as questionable with an ankle injury and they Redskins don’t want to take any chance of being caught short-handed at cornerback if he suffers a setback. That’s especially true when they don’t need to bring an extra tackle along.

Depending on how things shake out injury-wise against the Cardinals there is a good chance that we could see Phillips on the waiver wire once again as a roster spot will be needed for Williams.

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Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins

Out

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.

T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.

RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.

Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)

Cardinals

Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.