BY MARK F. GRAY
These are not the Indianapolis Colts of 2007, 2008, or 2009 and when you create opportunities you have to cash on them. The Washington Redskins could not find a way to take full advantage of the chances created by the special teams and defense and fell 27-24 on a night where the Colts nearly gift wrapped the game for them.
The Redskins will lament all week two turnovers by Indianapolis that led to field goals which should have been touchdowns and a missed 49 yard field goal late in the second quarter. Graham Gano could have bailed them or made at least made the final two minutes of the game more compelling but he’s proving to rather unreliable outside of 40 yards.
While the Colts offense played surgically efficient Washington’s defense recovered from two big lapses by creating chances for Donovan McNabb and company to pull off the upset on homecoming night in D.C. Ryan Torain served notice that Clinton Portis days of starting are no more after his 20 carry 100 yard two touchdown performance despite an offensive line with more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.
Despite their 12 play 92 yard drive midway through the fourth quarter, the play calling of Kyle Shanahan set them back. After a game ending hit to Joseph Addai where he fumbled the Redskins found themselves with a third and one at the Colts 26 yard line. Instead of lining up and playing smash mouth they ran a stretch play to the left side and lost three yards leaving them to settle for a field goal. That was an indictment of an offensive line that is being coached up but not talented enough to be a playoff team.
There were moments where the defense was victimized such as when Pierre Garcon got deep and burned DeAngelo Hall and Kareem Moore for a touchdown in the first quarter. Addai got loose in the third quarter for a career high 46 yard run before his overnight delivery to the sideline for good. Despite yielding almost 500 yards of total offense, they kept plugging away against the feared Colts offense and ultimately gave their unit enough chances to win.
It is well documented that the Redskins offensive line is a mess but Kyle Shanahan’s play calling in situations over the last two weeks has left them hanging on a high wire without the net. In addition to the ill conceived stretch play they lack rhythm and never seemed pressed to change the tempo by using the no huddle offense which the Colts used to disrupt any defensive chemistry. They managed to force three turnovers but two more interceptions were left on the field that led to 13 Indianapolis points.
Washington is now 0-for-two versus the AFC south at home in games decided by a total of six points. Football is a game of inches and Houston and Indianapolis were just that much better than the Redskins on both occasions this year. Now they are one game back of the Eagles and Giants in the NFC east looking for redemption and to keep pace in Chicago.
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