(photo by Brian Murphy)
1. “Things Ain’t Like They Used to Be” by The Black Keys
In many ways, the Washington Redskins’ 34-19 loss to the New York Jets was a perfect representation of the 2011 season.
In both instances, the team looked at its best the first time it took the field, gave the fans plenty of reason for hope and then the wheels suddenly came flying off leaving everyone involved wondering what the hell just happened.
Like many other times this season, Washington played well enough to win. The Redskins even held a 16-13 lead with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
But, as has been the case all too often over the last decade or so, the team failed to close out a vulnerable opponent and was left searching for answers after another disappointing defeat.
“It’s frustrating,” said Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. “You come out in the second half and I think we had three series of three-and-outs. On offense we had a chance to get the momentum of the game and we didn’t. They come back with a pretty good play with a little sluggo call. They got the touchdown but we’re still in the football game. I’m just disappointed in the way we finished.”
2. “Doing It Wrong” by Drake
The key play Shanahan that referred to was a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez to receiver Santonio Holmes with 4:49 left in the game. Holmes beat cornerback Josh Wilson cleanly and caught an easy over-the-shoulder pass to give New York their first lead of the game.
Despite having three different leads through the game, the Redskins looked shell-shocked after that score and never recovered.
During the final four minutes of the game, the Jets padded their stats with two touchdowns by running back Shonn Greene to seal the game, but this wasn’t a game that was lost solely by the Washington defense.
“I just thought we were very average collectively on offense,” Shanahan said. “We started out good and for whatever reason we lost – I wouldn’t say we lost our poise – but they got the job done and we didn’t. I thought we took it to them in the first quarter and a half. We had the momentum going and all of a sudden it didn’t seem like we could get anything going. They picked up their run defense a little bit and we went in the other direction.”
After starting the game with an opening drive touchdown for the second-consecutive week, quarterback Rex Grossman and friends struggled to move the chains for most of the game.
The Redskins racked up 133 yards of offense on their first two possessions and then took the rest of the day off. Sadly, their next seven series resulted in six punts and a fumble, which is not going to win many football games.
“That’s why I was disappointed coming out in the second half with three series with pretty good field position, three plays and out,” Shanahan said. “You got a decent opportunity against a football team that’s got a pretty good defense. We didn’t do that. We did it in the first quarter and most of the second quarter. I’m disappointed we didn’t get the ball in the end zone and disappointed with the way we started out the third quarter. We had a chance to at least get ahead by 10 and we didn’t.”
3. “Comedown” by Bush
In his previous two starts, Grossman had completed nearly 73 percent of his passes for more than 600 yards with a quarterback rating of 100.0.
Against the Jets though, The Rex Cannon came back down to earth – completing just 19 of 46 passes for 221 yards with an interception and a QB rating of 47.5.
On the first two drives of the game, Grossman had little trouble moving the ball – connected on five of seven passes for 73 yards. For the rest of the game however, he went just 14 of 39 for 148 yards with an interception.
From the sidelines, it appeared New York did a good job of switching up their defense as the game went on. Whatever they did obviously worked because Washington’s passing game went into a coma and Grossman looked completely uncomfortable the rest of the day.
“Yeah, they did a good job in mixing up all of their stuff,” Grossman said after the game. “They never give you the same look twice. They never play the same type of scheme twice. They did a lot of unique blitzes and you can’t get a beat on them. They are a pretty damn good football team.”
4. “Dumb” by Nirvana
For as often as people bring up the terrible decision to bench Grossman in favor of terrible backup John Beck, you think someone would also mention the questionable decision to go with Ryan Torain over Roy Helu once Tim Hightower was lost for the season due to injury.
In the last six games Torain had a carry he’s rushed 36 times for a paltry 57 yards (1.5 yards per attempt).
In related news, in Helu’s last five games with a carry, he’s rushed 70 times for 325 yards (4.6 yards per attempt) with two touchdowns. Over the last two games alone, Helu has 46 carries for 208 yards and two touchdowns.
Not only does he gain more than two yards each time he touches the ball – which is good enough to beat Torain as it is – but he rushes with a quick burst that seems to catch defenses by surprise.
Even as the offensive line continues to be a work in progress with players shuffling in and out of the lineup, Helu finds a way to stay productive.
It’s too bad his coaching staff didn’t trust him to carry the ball more than 10 times a game until Thanksgiving. The way Helu has handled the increase workload, fans can only wonder how much better the offense would have been this season with the 22-year-old more prominently involved.
5. “Because I Got High” by Afroman
Aside from the game itself, the biggest news of the day was a report that tight end Fred Davis and left tackle Trent Williams would be suspended for the final four games of the 2011 season for violating the league’s substance abuse problem.
If that is indeed the case, it’s a damn shame – especially because the two highly-touted players were playing some of the best football of late.
Davis, who had six catches for 99 yards against the Jets, has been the team’s most consistent weapon this season. He’s done so well in fact, that Redskins fans have all but forgotten about injured Pro Bowler Chris Cooley.
For the year, Davis has a team-best 59 catches for 796 yards and three touchdowns.
Williams, of course, is the central figure in the team’s offensive line and is charged with protecting Grossman’s blind side.
The paper-thin line is already dealing with the loss of guard Kory Lichtensteiger and the diminished play of right tackle Jammal Brown, so losing Williams for something as mindless and selfish as a failed drug test is infuriating.
Just when Washington’s offense finally seems capable of putting points on the board (scoring 66 points over the last three games), two of their most important players are done for the season.
I don’t want to sound like a disappointed parent here, but I hope it was worth it.
Finally, here’s a link to my favorite photos I was able to capture during the game.